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  • That Someone Guilty Be Punished: The Impact of the ICTY in Bosnia
  • Inela Selimović (bio)
Diane F. Orentlicher, That Someone Guilty Be Punished: The Impact of the ICTY in Bosnia (Open Society Justice Initiative 2010), 210 pages, ISBN 978-1-936133-28-4.

Diane Orentlicher's That Someone Guilty Be Punished: The Impact of The ICTY in Bosnia exposes and analyzes Bosnian war survivors' varied views on the [End Page 890] International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia's (ICTY) work as the war survivors attempt to come to terms with the past atrocities in the country that has an unripe democratic selfhood. It is unsurprising, then, that reconciliation—with all its manifestations, benefits, and challenges—remains a significant element of nearly each chapter. Although at the heart of the treatise, Bosnians' perceptions (as well as misperceptions) of the ICTY's work are not Orentlicher's sole foci. As such, the book places an equally significant emphasis on "the Tribunal's impact on those who committed or silently condoned wartime atrocities in Bosnia, and on Bosnia's domestic capacity to ensure criminal accountability for war crimes."1 Ultimately, then, That Someone Guilty Be Punished mainly rests on several major thematic pillars: the ICTY's creation and performance; complex processes of victims' claims for and understanding of justice; and the ICTY's assistance with fostering Bosnia's nonfragmentary selfhood through "transitional justice."2

These thematic pillars have emerged as a result of a three-year-long effort (2006–2009), mainly revolving around interviews Orentlicher carried out in Bosnia as well as in the Netherlands. According to the author, such interviews "were conducted with a wide cross-section of individuals from each major ethnic group in Bosnia"3 and professionals from several relevant institutions such as the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina's War Crimes Chamber and the ICTY. The author makes clear that these interviews helped with gauging "other aspects of the ICTY's performance that have either frustrated victims' expectations or gone farthest in meeting them."4 In her introduction, Orentlicher provides a quick overview of a gap between Bosnians' "original expectations and their perceptions of what the ICTY has achieved seventeen years on."5 The rest of the study draws analytical attention to the deeper cleavages among the three major ethnic groups' takes on the ICTY's performance as well as its prospects.

At the outset, the author offers a thorough background on the ICTY's formation and then in the ensuing chapters shifts her focus to the more specific causes and corollaries of the Tribunal's intricate work. While the author's persuasive and well-researched arguments permeate each chapter, the third and sixth are particularly compelling because they capture in more depth some of the major causes for as well as the ramifications of the ICTY's emergence and performance in the Netherlands and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the chapter "Victims' Justice," Orentlicher revisits Foča in April 1992, outlining the genesis of contemporary "crimes against humanity of enslavement and rape" through a series of interviews with numerous war survivors on international humanitarian law violations, reconciliation, and—for many—an often semi-reached justice.6 The reconciliation complexities among the three key ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina remain particularly well dissected in this chapter as the author brings together a multifarious choir of national [End Page 891] and international voices, which have tackled the reconciliation's definition, implementation, outcomes, and failures in the Bosnian context.

The notion of reconciliation is pushed to the next level in the ensuing chapters as well. In chapter six, for instance, Orentlicher examines "transitional justice" to demonstrate the ICTY's concrete impact in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stating, "the Tribunal has played a distinctive role in spurring and shaping a major transition within Bosnia's domestic system for prosecuting wartime atrocities … [and] helped launch a specialized war crimes chamber within the newly established Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina."7 The discussion that precedes Orentlicher's analysis of the locally prosecuted wartime crimes addresses both the achievements and challenges that have emerged and remained between Bosnia's War Crimes Chamber and the ICTY. The reconciliatory approaches furthermore remain central...


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