11 October 2012

Srebrenica Update

Srebrenica victims are appealing a decision that absolved the Blue Helmets of responsibility for the massacre.  I'm curious how this will go after having read the Srebrenica report, which I wrote a short review about.  It brings up troubling questions: how culpable is the UN for standing by?  What is their responsibility for creating a task force that had no official ability to fight back? 

The victims are not claiming the soldiers themselves were responsible, but the UN as their commander.  If the UN gets involved in violent confrontations, is there any immunity that makes sense?  There are a lot of questions as to the role of an international peacekeeper when it doesn't do anything to stop what's happening.  One, the question is how is that in line with their mission, and two, it's a question of how the idea of immunity affects the way an organization behaves.  The Czech Republic is understanding the problems of lawmakers having immunity.  When immunity is granted, the actions and their consequences differ.  How would have Srebrenica turned out how the UN been held responsible?  It probably would've had a lot more action and less hemming and hawing.  Maybe there would have been hemming and hawing, but it wouldn't have been excused and the UN would have to make an example of itself in future peacekeeping missions in the midst of violent conflict.  It changes the ways organizations make decisions.  To draw other parallels, if Wall Street had been held accountable the way Iceland held theirs accountable, things would be different.  If you're immune to the consequences of your actions, you're not going to play the same way if you were liable to get hurt. 

Genocide, though it continues to this very day, has a huge stinking stigma surrounding it.  "Never again," is the cry and when someone is found guilty of perpetuating or allowing genocide, it riles people up.  This is part of the reason Turkey had that spat over France officially recognizing the genocide of Armenians.  It's a poor mark on any state, organization, or leader.  Germany is still humiliated by its genocidal past (Austria too, but it's difficult to lump them together since they have slightly different interpretations of those events).  No one wants that blood on their hands and the UN is one of them.  Can the Dutch Supreme Court strip the UN of its immunity?  I don't know.  I think it would have to be the ECHM that could make that call or the ICTY.  I wish they would, but others may disagree.