In August 2001, a trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia (ICTY) handed down the tribunal's first genocide conviction.
In this landmark case, Prosecutor v. Radislav Krsti6, the trial chamber determined
that the 1995 Srebrenica massacres-in which Bosnian Serb forces executed 7,000-
8,000 Bosnian Muslim men-constituted genocide. This Note acknowledges the
need for a dramatic expression of moral outrage at the most terrible massacre in
Europe since the Second World War. However, this Note also challenges the
genocide finding. By excluding consideration of the perpetrators' motives for
killing the men, such as seeking to eliminate a military threat, the Krsti6 chamber's
method for finding specific intent to destroy the Bosnian Muslims, in whole or in
part, was incomplete. The chamber also loosely construed other terms in the
genocide definition, untenably broadening the meaning and application of the
crime. The chamber's interpretation of genocide in turn has problematic
implications for the tribunal, enforcement of international humanitarian law, and
historical accuracy. Thus highlighting instances where inquiry into motives may
be relevant to genocide determinations, this Note ultimately argues for preserving
distinctions between genocide and crimes against humanity, while simultaneously
expanding the legal obligation to act to mass crimes that lack proof of genocidal
Southwick, Katherine G.
"Srebrenica as Genocide? The Krsti Decision and the Language of the Unspeakable,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
1, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol8/iss1/5