Resolution on the Genocide in Srebrenica: a new boiling point for chauvinism in Serbia

The resolution on the Srebrenica genocide would have found its way onto the agenda no matter how Serbia behaved. It is also possible that some hypothetical Serbia with more dignity, one that has taken responsibility for victims, the past, and the future, would have agreed with the resolution.


In spite of the delay, the draft resolution whose goal is to warn once again against the devastating moral, political, and value consequences of denying the Srebrenica genocide will be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly. The reaction in Serbia to the very possibility of the resolution being proposed, and then to its draft, has proven the drafters right in seeing the need for the adoption of such a document, and use the platform of the highest international authority to make it known that the majority of the international community regards Serbia’s practice of constantly glorifying criminals with disdain.

For days we have seen outbursts of frustration, anger, hysteria, and hatred towards the resolution, its sponsors, and anyone in Serbia who reasonably and responsibly tries to point out that the resolution is not the result of any ontological enmity of the West towards Serbia and Serbs. Unfortunately, this resolution is without doubt a consequence of the ever more aggressive refusal of the Serbian side in the war and its ideological proponents today to face their responsibility for the most vile mass crime in European history after World War II - the genocide in Srebrenica. Additionally, the idea that it is only the qualification of genocide that is unacceptable to the “Serbian world” is a great deception, and not a very convincing one.  Serbia has done nothing to provide its own public, as well as the regional and global publics, with a credible assurance that its state structures have come to recognize the nature of the responsibility of the Serbian side, and Serbia itself for the wars and crimes of the 1990s. In fact, what we are witnessing is precisely a crescendo of evidence to the contrary.

The irrational reaction of a portion of the Serbian public to the idea of a resolution that would remind the international community of the ever more pronounced disdain for victims an glorification of criminals when it comes to Srebrenica is essentially the consequence of three decades of the most reprehensible muddling of Serbia’s said responsibility for the crisis and wars of the 1990s. The immediate cause of this reaction is the willfully disseminated deception concerning some sort of dire consequences for Serbia and Serbs in other countries if the resolution is adopted. This is not just demagoguery - it is the stupidest line of argumentation they could have come up with. Putting it briefly, the adoption of the resolution cannot produce consequences one iota stronger than those already produced by court verdicts establishing that genocide had taken place. Quite simply, the legal power of verdicts by international courts that have already had their say on the crime in Srebrenica is immeasurably stronger than the power of a document such as a resolution, even one adopted by the UN General Assembly. The political and moral weight of such a document is indisputable, but it has a limited scope, whereas it simply cannot produce any practical consequences. This kind of resolution serves as an appeal to the international public, as well as to those targeted by the content, to get them to do more to change the state of affairs the resolution points to. 

One especially dangerous, and, it must be said, ridiculous idea is the notion, repeated ad nauseam, that there is a concerted effort by the West to present the Serbs as a genocidal people, which is supposedly the only reason for the aforementioned court verdicts establishing genocide, as well as the present draft resolution. This is a claim also repeated by those who “admit” that a crime had happened in Srebrenica, some of them will even say “horrible crime”. Following that demented logic about accusing Serbs of being a “genocidal people”, assuming that international courts had instead adopted the qualification “war crime” or, more likely, “crime against humanity”, which is a qualification apparently endorsed even by these genocide deniers, wouldn’t that make Serbs a “criminal people”? Why that characterisation would be any “better” (and it is the logical conclusion of this insane line of thinking) is unfathomable to any mind unencumbered by the frustration of national paranoia.

However, the lowest level stooped to by this ideology of genocide denial in Srebrenica is the daily political instrumentalization by the chauvinistic government and a part of the “national forces” outside of government. They have made the question “do you accept that what happened in Srebrenica was genocide?” into a test of national righteousness posed to political opponents at every opportunity - from parliament to electoral debates for local elections. This is nothing short of a psychopathic callousness toward the victims who are allegedly “recognized” as having been killed in that “terrible crime”. Another equally disgusting form of abuse is the announcement by president Aleksandar Vučić himself, that Serbia would flood the UN system with draft resolutions on Serbian victims in the coming period. The idea of this “reactive”, infantile, and capricious response is an affront precisely to the victims he wants to honor through this unhinged action. In the same vein, it would also be wrong to interpret the draft resolution on the Srebrenica genocide as a form of “pressure” on Vučić - and there are tendencies toward this interpretation.

The resolution on the Srebrenica genocide would have found its way onto the agenda no matter how Serbia behaved. It is also possible that some hypothetical Serbia with more dignity, one that has taken responsibility for victims, the past, and the future, would have agreed with the resolution. In that scenario, the resolution would no doubt highlight Serbia’s attitude as a positive example, as having distanced itself from a criminal past and having rejected solidarity with perpetrators of crimes. However, this version of Serbia cannot be gleaned even on the distant horizon. Instead, Serbia’s attitude towards the crime in Srebrenica is perhaps best illustrated by the court cases against those accused of the crime, either completed, or still in progress before the Serbian judiciary, in synergy with genocide denial. Namely, on one hand, there are court cases, shamelessly dragged out and obstructed, being listlessly implemented in Serbia, along with a handful of verdicts and an almost total oblivion on the part of the Serbian public that these cases are being prosecuted before domestic courts. On the other hand, we are facing a hysterical, massive, ever-present genocide denial in public. The juxtaposition of those two situations best illustrates the state of awareness in Serbia on the Srebrenica genocide.