3rd February 2012
Panel Discussion with Martti Koskenniemi, International Lawyer and Jacques Verges, Defence Counsel with Robert Murtfeld as chair and discussant.
When former President Milosevic began his defence at The Hague, now 10 years ago, there was no reason to be surprised by his chosen tactics. By turning the accusing finger towards the West, in particular the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), for their alleged complicity in first destroying what Milosevic called "mini-Yugoslavia" (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and in 1999 waging a war of aggression against his own country, he aimed to avoid conducting his defence under conditions laid down by his adversaries. At the same time, his manoeuvre highlights, like so many other cases, the difficulty of grappling with large political crises by means of individual criminal responsibility and gives reason to question the ability of criminal trial to express or conserve the 'truth' of a complex series of events involving the often erratic action by major international players, Great Powers, the European Union, the United Nations, and so on.
This panel discussion will explore - on the eve of the decennial anniversary of the Milosevic case - whether international justice oscillates ambivalently between the wish to punish those individually responsible for international crimes and the danger of staging show trials in that process.