Monday, February 26, 2007

A Solomon's verdict

Some might call it it a Solomon decision, others would call it a political decision, today's ICJ;s decision. I tend to agree with the latter. However, political verdicts are not by definition unwise.

The dolus specialis, the special intent needed for a crime to be the crime of genocide, is hard to prove, if not impossible to prove, for state institutions. And here it is not proven. In my humble opinion it is in any way hard to do this. How can an institution, namely the Serbian state, be held responsible for the intent to commit genocide, without holding its leaders criminal responsible for it, as was the case in this case? Convicting a state for this would make it a rouge state by definition, and therefore not eligible for accession into the European Union, and, keeping this rational in mind, ready for regime change, since the regime now is considered a direct successor the regime of the nineties? Ok, acceptee, I am simplifying things here, but what were the expectations of BiH when it started this case?

The answer is not simple, but I think it can be found in the time in which the case was initially brought before the Court- 1993. At the height of the war. I think they wanted to make a political statement, hoping that the world would help them, and would lift the weapons embargo that was enforced upon them.

I am afraid that that is exactly what they got- a political statement. But one they seem not to like today. A Solomon's verdict....

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Today is a big day, provided that you are interested in International (Humanitarian) Law. Today is the day the International Court of Justice in The Hague will render its judgment in the case concerning the application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or to say in layman's words: whether Serbia Montenegro committed genocide in BiH. Although this is not a criminal case, and therefore the threshold for proving whether genocide was committed is lower than in a criminal case, the outcome is still important for the crimes currently tried here before the court of BiH and before the ICTY, for obvious reasons. But it might have grave political consequences too, no matter what the verdict might be (it is now 09.00 am, and the verdict will be rendered at 10.00). If BiH will be proven right, which is the impression you will get walking around here (ok, not very surprisingly), this will put a strain on their relationship with Belgrade, because they will ask for billions of Dollars/ Euros in compensation, but it will also divide the Bosnian serbs and the Bosniaks again. For obvious reasons the Bosnian Serbs, who are about half of the Bosnian population, did not agree with their national government to go forward with this case.

I do not argue with the fact that the case was brought before the ICJ. As a jurist it makes sense. however, thinking ou of the legal box, all I see is a loose-loose situation on a political level today at 10.00 o'clock. No matter what the verdict may be.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Idle time

Apparently I have not been completely clear in my blog- I am still here. And 'here' is Sarajevo, ljubavi moja. I have some unfinished business here, and once that is done, I am heading northwards (I like the mystery of 'unfinished business'. I will therefore not tell you yet what it is. Regard this blog as a very robust cliffhanger).

So until that is done, I have some idle time. Until yesterday I said I was unemployed, but now I have decided I am on a sabbatical. Sounds good, I think.

Tomorrow Nenad the Neighbour will take me on a trip to the places he fought during the war. It is something I have mentioned before, but now it will finally happen. There is an exiting feeling about it, and I am a bit embarrassed to admit that. In some, if not many ways, I am still a tourist here. One who might really try hard to understand the country, but still does not completely. But wouldn't it be a bit presumptuous to pretend you would, anyway?

Monday, February 19, 2007

On welfare

In Dutch there is a saying: "to burn your ships behind you", which is (but of course) a naval expression meaning so much as making sure there is no way back. That was the feeling I had today, when I was shredding the last evidence of my existence at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Although last Friday was my last working day, I had to come in today to go through all the binders I accumulated over the last 2,5 years of work, and to sign a last decision in which I was the legal officer. At 16.00 I was done with this, and from now on I can at least look the 45.5% unemployed of this country in the eyes again. Every disadvantage has it's advantage, is what a great Dutch philosopher once said....

Last Friday night I had a hard time falling asleep, and the next day I felt hungover without having had a single drop of alcohol the night before (I am on antibiotics currently, and I was not allowed to drink until today. I never realized how much I enjoy drinking until this week. I am getting worried). Existential questions ran through my head: "Am I crazy to quit a very well paid position for the insecurity of no job at all?" "Does my bright and shining future lie behind me?" "Is there life after unemployment?" "What am I going to do with my life?". and for two days I was feeling sorry for my self (which is actually quite nice for a short period of time. Some misanthropic or depressed feelings are great for artistic thought- the best writers had miserable youths, and I didn't, so I have some catching up to do...) .

Anyhow, although I have not figured things completely out yet, I am happy with my decision. In all fairness, I actually know quite well what I want to do, and those of you who have talked to me know it too- my own secrets are not safe with myself.... As soon as things concerning my future plans become more clear, I will 'blog' them.

So for now: stop wining like a little girl, and get your act together (So no stress, this is the last blog about not working and stuff like that)! For those who feel sorry for me after reading this: thanks, thanks a lot. However, empathy will not keep me of welfare. Money does. Call me for my bank account number, and don't be shy...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Human Rights Watch

So we have done good. According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, who accoring to their motto are 'defending human rights worldwide' the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina holds fair and efficient war crimes trials. Well thank you very much. We have done what could. De nada.

Last week their report on the Court came out. In general they agreed with our work. In this timeline you can see how long the court is operational (I started working for it in August 2004).

I am leaving the Court in two days. There have been days that I hated my work. But when I read this report and the comments, I am gddmn proud of what we, and I, did here. Because against many, many odds, a crew of about 15 people turned an idea of trying war crimes in the country where they were committed, in less than three years into a fully operational Court of more then 300 people.

No matter what I will do after this, how much I might mess up my future carere, I can forever say that once I accomplished something, something that mattered, and that is bigger than myself.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


In a moment of weakness I yesterday surfed to the lemma of Marco Borsato on Youtube. Borsato is the most popular Dutch singer of the moment, but more importantly to him at the moment, is that he also is an Ambassador for War Child Nederland, an organisation that strives for a healthy mental development of children who have lived through war. I have seen that that is easier said than done, making sure that a kid with PTSS has a healthy metal development, and have therefore quite some admiration for this organisation. And for Borsato, who I used to associate with songs with lyrics like: "I am lying on my back, and stare at the moon, and ask her why we exist". I am not a poet, and maybe it is deep, but those lyrics don't do the trick for me. However, one of his song gives me the chills, and maybe because the first shot of the videoclip that comes with it is filmed close to my house, at the corner between the Ali Pasjino Mosque and Discotheque the Club. It is the clip for the song Speeltuin, 'Playground', in which hearthtrob Borsato sings that a child can be taken out of a war, but that it is harder to take a war out of a child. The video is made of eight-o'clock news clippings, and are all about BiH, but it could be about Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and so on, and so forth, too.

In all his cliches in his song Playground, Borsato is right, very right in his song. Trauma's die hard.

No matter that this guy makes songs with lyrics like "most dreams are fake, but when I wake up next to you, it feels like I am still dreaming" (!), if you use your fame to be such an sincere advocate for battered child victims of war, I am a fan. However, this won't stop me from turning down the voulme when I see his videoclips. 'cause i am a bigger fan of his cause, than of his voice.

By the way: second place. My brother. He will be big one day, mind my words.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ruben Jakob Hein

For someone so convinced of himself like me, it is terrible to admit, but the one with talent in my family is not me. It is my brother.

He mailed me today to tell me that he will be playing -he is a professional jazz pianist- at the North Sea Jazz Festival in July, and "o,yeah, by the way, I totally forgot to tell you, but I decided to join the Dutch Jazz vocalist concourse, and I managed to make it to the finals. I beat a few Idols finalist in the process of making it there. Neat, isn't it? The finals are tomorrow. Shame you can not make it."

But what has this infomercial about my brother to do with BiH? Nothing, and that is exactly the point. There are occasions you really don't want to be in Sarajevo, and this is one of them: I would like to see him 'star' tomorrow at 15.30 in Zwolle
(ok, of all places), in stead of being away. I do not want to go back to Holland, but missing this is indeed a shame.

So those readers who are in Holland, go there tomorrow, and cheer for him, on my behalf. Like a proud brother would do.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Job opportunities

It has been a riviting week. I have resigned, and am leaving the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the 16th of February. I will be unemployed from then on....

However, opportunities ahead: the position of Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY will be vacant from September onwards, as will be the position of High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the latter position Larry Butler's name is mentioned, so I am afraid I do not stand a fair chance. Whos is going to succeed Del Ponte is still a mystery.

The departure of both of those persons, who play an important role in BiH, is greeted with mixed feelings. Up until now both have not delivered what they were supposed to do: Del Ponte did not bring Karadzic and Mladic to trial, and Schwartz-Schilling did not manage to reform and harmonise the Bosnian political playing field enough for the international community to feel comfortable leaving the country, and close down
However, with tensions rising in BiH regarding Kosovo, the departure of those two people, how ineffective they might have been, might not be chosen at the right moment.

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