International Court of Justice rules on genocide claims

The United Nations' highest court, the International Court of Justice, ruled on Tuesday 3 February 2015 that neither Croatia nor Serbia had violated the Genocide Convention during the civil war that led to the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.


The Court held that its jurisdiction to entertain Croatia's claims extended prior to 27 April 1992, when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia) became a state.  The Court accepted evidence in respect of both claims that acts constituting the physical element of genocide were carried out in the region, including killings and widespread attacks against civilian populations and infrastructure. It was accepted that groups of Croats and Serbs living in affected areas of the region constituted a "substantial part" of the larger ethnic or national groups for the purposes of establishing genocide. However, the "specific intent" required to establish genocide was not made out.


Keir Starmer QC and Katherine O'Byrne represented the Republic of Croatia and Wayne Jordash QC represented the Republic of Serbia.

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