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Justice in a Time of War

The True Story Behind the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

By Pierre Hazan; Foreword by M. Cherif Bassiouni; Translated by James Thomas Snyder

Publication Year: 2004

Can we achieve justice during war? Should law substitute for realpolitik? Can an international court act against the global community that created it? Justice in a Time of War is a translation from the French of the first complete, behind-the-scenes story of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, from its proposal by Balkan journalist Mirko Klarin through recent developments in the first trial of its ultimate quarry, Slobodan Miloševic. It is also a meditation on the conflicting intersection of law and politics in achieving justice and peace. Le Monde’s review (November 3, 2000) of the original edition recommended Hazan’s book as a nuanced account of the Tribunal that should be a must-read for the new president of Yugoslavia. “The story Pierre Hazan tells is that of an institution which, over the course of the years, has managed to escape in large measure from the initial hidden motives and manipulations of those who created it (not only the Americans).” With insider interviews filling out every scene, author Pierre Hazan tells a chaotic story of war while the Western powers cobbled together a tribunal in order to avoid actual intervention, hoping to threaten international criminals with indictment and thereby to force an untenable peace. The international lawyers and judges for this rump world court started with nothing—no office space, no assistants, no computers, not even a budget—but they ultimately established the tribunal as an unavoidable actor in the Balkans. This development was also a reflection of the evolving political situation: the West had created the Tribunal in 1993 as an alibi in order to avoid military intervention, but in 1999, the Tribunal suddenly became useful to NATO countries as a means by which to criminalize Miloševic’s regime and to justify military intervention in Kosovo and in Serbia. Ultimately, this hastened the end of Miloševic’s rule and led the way to history’s first war crimes trial of a former president by an international tribunal. Ironically, this triumph for international law was not really intended by the Western leaders who created the court. They sought to placate, not shape, public opinion. But the determination of a handful of people working at the Tribunal transformed it into an active agent for change, paving the road for the International Criminal Court and greatly advancing international criminal law. Yet the Tribunal’s existence poses as many questions as it answers. How independent can a U.N. Tribunal be from the political powers that created it and sustain it politically and financially ? Hazan remains cautious though optimistic for the future of international justice. His history remains a cautionary tale to the reader: realizing ideals in a world enamored of realpolitik is a difficult and often haphazard activity.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series on Eastern Europe

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xvii

The tension between realpolitik and justice has existed in every society since time immemorial, and it also manifested itself in the context of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Unlike earlier historic conflicts in which realpolitik ultimately prevailed...

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pp. xix-xxi

This book was born of my need to understand. In Rwanda, in Bosnia, in Kosovo and elsewhere, I, like many others, witnessed the horror in the wake of appalling crimes. I remember the old man, decapitated, and the women crying beside a pile of bodies whose faces had...

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pp. xxiii

I cannot mention all those—they are too numerous—who helped me, whether it was by their personal experience or by their reflection, to better understand and explore the different themes dealt with in this book. I would like, however, to name...

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Introduction: The Theater of Truth

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pp. 3-6

"The Court will please rise.” The bailiff repeats the phrase in French: “La Cour, veuillez-vous lever.” The ritual is invariable. The three judges enter by a side door. They sit on a small platform framed by two flags of the United...

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Chapter One: A Time of Alibis

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pp. 7-25

New York, February 22, 1993. Unanimously, the fifteen representatives of the United Nations Security Council affirm Resolution 808. They have come here to create the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia...

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Chapter Two: Guerrilla Diplomacy: America versus Europe

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pp. 26-42

Behind the diplomatic smiles and the public expressions of consensus, European and American allies at the United Nations in New York are at odds, a still-buried but no less real conflict setting them apart. At stake is domination...

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Chapter Three: A Tribunal Nearly Stillborn

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pp. 43-63

On November 17, 1993, in the grand hall of the Palace of Peace in The Hague, seat of the International Court of Justice, the highest U.N. judicial body of the United Nations opens the first plenary session of the International...

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Chapter Four: A Court Put to the Test

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pp. 64-75

Sure of their impunity, by 1995 the Bosnian Serb leaders are feeling invulnerable. The Tadic indictment handed up on February 10, after three years of war in Bosnia, is not likely to frighten the executors of ethnic cleansing...

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Chapter Five: Tribunal of the Word

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pp. 76-89

On June 27, 1996, three judges, flanked by two United Nations flags, open the Rule 61 hearing in the case against Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. It is a show trial, yet it does hold some surprises because the hearing will shed light...

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Chapter Six: The Quest for Independence

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pp. 90-111

By the end of 1995, the Dayton Accords have silenced the guns in Bosnia. A relative peace is holding in the still-divided country. Some weeks earlier, on October 1, Louise Arbour succeeded Richard Goldstone. Soberly...

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Chapter Seven: The International Court on the Spot

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pp. 112-147

On May 25, 1999, President Slobodan Milosevic is publicly indicted by the ICTY for atrocities committed by Serb forces in Kosovo. Never has an indictment received such instantaneous media coverage worldwide. For the first time...

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Chapter Eight: The Interminable Trial of Slobodan Milosevic

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pp. 148-175

July 3, 2001, Hearing Room 1, ten o’clock in the morning. Case number IT-99-37-I. Behind this bureaucratic and from now on routine number for this new trial lies the ideal image for international justice: “The Prosecutor v. Slobodan...

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Chapter Nine: A Court Standing above It All

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pp. 176-196

"My grandson is three years old. If the murderers of twelve members of our family are not punished as they ought to be, it will be up to him, when he is twenty, to kill them. Justice will thus...

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pp. 197-202

In 1969, Charles de Gaulle dismissed the ban on French television of Marcel Ophul’s documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity, about French collaboration with the Nazis, by saying, “Our country does not need truth. What we must give it is hope, cohesion...

Appendix: Amended Statute of the International Tribunal

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pp. 203-216


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pp. 217-237

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 239-240


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pp. 241-248

E-ISBN-13: 9781603446396
E-ISBN-10: 1603446397
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585444113
Print-ISBN-10: 1585444111

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 12 b&w photos.
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series on Eastern Europe

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • International criminal courts -- History.
  • Yugoslav War Crime Trials, Hague, Netherlands, 1994-.
  • International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 -- History.
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