Croatia v Serbia: ICJ Establishes Criminal Acts Of Genocide But Finds No Genocide Proven!

ICJ Room

ICJ Room


UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) chief judge Peter Tomka read the court’s judgment February 3, 2015 in the case for genocide, Croatia v Serbia and Serbia’s counterclaim, which dismissed (15 to 2) Croatia’s claim that Serb forces committed genocide during Croatia’s war of independence and dismissed (unanimously) Serbia’s counterclaim which claimed that Croatian forces during 1995 Operation Storm (which liberated Serb occupied Croatian territory) had committed genocide.


Criminal acts of genocide established but these do not constitute genocide by the court’s interpretation
Judge Tomka said Serbs and the Yugoslav People’s Army under Belgrade’s direction committed mass killings, sexual violence/rape, forcible displacement/ethnic cleansing of Croats (found by the court to constitute criminal acts of genocide) in the Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia during the early 1990’s, but that Croatia had not proved genocide, which “pre-supposes the intent to destroy a group, at least in part“. Similar conclusions were made for the killings of Serbs that occurred during the fleeing of Serbs from Croatia after Operation Storm, although the latter were at a much smaller scale than those systematically committed by Serbs against Croats across Croatia over a prolonged period of time.
So, according to ICJ there was genocide but it was not genocide because no such intent was proven in accordance with ICJ standards of proof that would include “destruction of a whole people or significant part of a whole people”.


Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman vindicated
In relation to Serbia’s claim of genocide against Serbs during the 1995 Operation Storm Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman and his leading team have been vindicated in this judgment. In the ICJ Judgment article 504 it says: “….President Tudjman’s reference — on which Serbia places so much emphasis — to the aim of the Croatian forces being ‘to inflict such blows that the Serbs will to all practical purposes disappear’ must be read in context, and specifically in light of what immediately follows: ‘that is to say, the areas we do not take at once must capitulate within a few days’. Taken as a whole, that sentence is clearly more indicative of the designation of a military objective, rather than of the intention to secure the physical destruction of a human group”.


Attempts to create ethnically pure Greater Serbia involved forced deportation of Croats and other non-Serbs
The ICJ found without doubt is that the concept of creating Greater Serbia existed and within this frame multitudes of crimes were committed against Croats (and other non-Serbs) in Croatia – primarily war crimes, crimes against humanity. ICJ found that these acts do not represent the act genocide (as defined by the Genocide Convention) but Serbia did engage in aggression against Croatia and occupation of Croatian territory and the instruments for these were the Yugoslav People’s Army and Chetnik and other Serb formations, that everything was directed from Belgrade – people were killed and forcefully deported from their homes. Also, and very importantly, the ICJ has finally put a stamp on the 1995 Operation Storm as a legitimate military operation that liberated the Croatian occupied territory.


Excerpts from ICJ Judgment dated 3 February 2015
It’s worthwhile here to quote some articles from the ICJ Judgment dated 3 Fenruary 2015:
In Article 401 of the ICJ Judgment 3 February 2013 “The Court is fully convinced that, in various localities in Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia, the JNA and Serb forces perpetrated against members of the protected group acts falling within subparagraphs (a) and (b) of Article II of the Convention, and that the actus reus of genocide has been established”.
403. Croatia contends that the crimes committed by the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) and Serb forces represent a pattern of conduct from which the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is an intent on the part of the Serbian authorities to destroy in part the Croat group. It maintains that the Croats living in the regions of Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia targeted by those crimes constituted a substantial part of the protected group, and that the intent to destroy the protected group “in part”, which characterizes genocide as defined in Article II of the Convention, is thus established.
426. According to the ICTY, the leadership of Serbia and that of the Serbs in Croatia, inter alia, shared the objective of creating an ethnically homogeneous Serb State. That was the context in which acts were committed that constitute the actus reus of genocide within the meaning of Article II (a) and (b) of the Convention. However, the conclusion of the ICTY indicates that those acts were not committed with intent to destroy the Croats, but rather with that of forcing them to leave the regions concerned so that an ethnically homogeneous Serb State could be created.
428. The Court therefore concludes that Croatia’s contentions regarding the overall context do not support its assertion that genocidal intent is the only reasonable inference to be drawn.
In simple words, even though Serbs carried out ethnic cleansing and mass killings (found by the same court to have been criminal acts of genocide) of Croats and other non-Serbs in Croatia this does not constitute genocide largely because Serbs did not in the act of ethnic cleansing go about killing everyone they locked into concentration camps or deported forcibly from their home!
As to Serbia’s claim that Croats committed genocide against Serbs during the 1995 Operation Storm in its Judgment, article 472. “The Court concludes from the foregoing that it is unable to find that there was any indiscriminate shelling of the Krajina towns deliberately intended to cause civilian casualties. It would only bein exceptional circumstances that it would depart from the findings reached by the ICTY on an issue of this kind. Serbia has indeed drawn the Court’s attention to the controversy aroused by the Appeals Chamber’s Judgment. However, no evidence, whether prior or subsequent to that Judgment, has been put before the Court which would incontrovertibly show that the Croatian authorities deliberately intended to shell the civilian areas of towns inhabited by Serbs. In particular, no such intent is apparent from the Brioni Transcript. Nor can such intent be regarded as incontrovertibly established on the basis of the statements by persons having testified before the ICTY Trial Chamber in the Gotovina case, and cited as witnesses by Serbia in the present case.
475. The Court concludes for the foregoing reasons that it has not been shown that “killing[s] [of] members of the [protected/Serbs] group”, within the meaning of Article II of the Convention, were committed as a result of the artillery attacks on towns in that region during Operation “Storm” in August 1995.
485. The Court’s conclusion is that killings (of Serbs) were in fact committed during the flight of the refugee columns (after Operation Storm ended), even if it is unable to determine their number, and even though there is significant doubt as to whether they were carried out systematically. These killings, which fall within the scope of subparagraph (a) of Article II of the Genocide Convention, constitute the actus reus of genocide.
515…Accordingly, the Court finds that it has not been proved that genocide was committed during and after Operation “Storm” against the Serb population of Croatia.
523…The Court encourages the Parties to continue their co-operation with a view to offering appropriate reparation to the victims of such violations, thus consolidating peace and stability in the region.


One cannot but draw a conclusion that this UN court (ICJ) has in this judgment failed humanity and the truth for all it did is provide a licence for mass killings to occur worldwide without the responsibility for genocide – if the “masses” killed fall a bit short of some numerical criteria the court sticks to and is obviously unwilling to consider re-visiting the definitions of genocide as they might fit better the modern world. This judgment only serves the utterly unfair political agendas that promote sharing of guilt and the equating of victim with the aggressor. This court decided to give its final ruling against genocide on the “forcibly deported” Croats not killed and ignore the Croat masses killed across Croatia in an obvious genocidal campaign that lasted for years, as well as masses tortured and raped in its definition of genocide. An ugly face of modern “justice” that is deeply unsettling. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Not quite sure what to think of all the media buzz yesterday and today over they say is a case of neglect on the legal team’s part to take into account the date of Serbia’s transition from Yugoslavia to Serbia, in its case. I’d trust Luka Misetic with my life, and if there had been a way to co-accuse Yugoslavia then I’m sure that would have been done. I suspect that there probably isn’t a statutory way of accusing a defunct state in that particular court. Which would be a blatant oversight of the court, not the legal team.

    It’s laughable that Nikolic considers the decision a victory, although his colleagues and predecessors, ever since the Battle of Kosovo, have had a skewed view on what constitutes victory and what constitutes defeat. They have absolutely nothing to celebrate. The case was dismissed on a technicality, rather on its merit, and if anything it’s Croatia that has benefited not only because of the points you have mentioned Ina, but also because we did not back down. Thankfully there was enough political pressure on Pusic and Josipovic that made it impossible for them to bail without facing an angry voting horde.

    So Nikolic isn’t coming to KGK’s inauguration because she took a strong stance saying that this isn’t the end and that all Serb and JNA units that committed crimes have to and will be prosecuted. If the guy’s going to make stupid diplomatic blunders like that, then so be it. He and all his cohorts need to learn that the days of walking all over our presidents are over. We finally have a strong, patriotic, hard-working woman in that office, and unlike her two predecessors, she’s got a brass pair!

    • Serbia’s Nikolic can go and jump in the lake as far as I am concerned. Who wants him at the Croatia’s presidency inauguration anyway. And yes, Brankec, the technicalities ICJ used to bring about the ruling are unfortunate – the victims and their families know that best.

  2. Am left speechless! Why do we have the UN anyway when it has no clue about human nature and justice it deserves. Peace cannot be achieved until Serbia takes on board its vile ways in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    • I’d like to see the day when Serbia accepts its vile ways in attempts to creating a Greater Serbia too, Mariot. Don’t hold my breath, though

  3. RebelRouser says:

    Seems to me ICJ thinks in terms of the idiom “a little bit pregnant”. It was either genocide or not genocide but I’m struggling with the concept as to how one can find or establish genocide occurred to turn around and say well it really wasn’t genocide…

    • A bit to humour inserted here rests well here, RebelRouser – only I’m not laughing as I believe you’re not either – it all is mind-boggling but let’s pluck out the good part and build on that.

  4. I had a look at the definition of genocide, and the paragraphs from the ICJ which you quote seem unduly restrictive. I found it here:

    Genocide is the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

    Driving people from a “Greater Serbia” which would have included parts of historic Croatia perhaps did not involve killing enough people.

    • Yes, Clare, that is a large part of the court’s reasoning however whether “destruction”/killing should in cases of such multifaceted violence (killing, forced deportation, rape, murder, concentration camps, cruelty, torture…systematic destructive behaviour) be the only final aspect that defines genocide is another question. I think opportunity has been missed here and the could could have if it wanted to modernised the definition to suit into what is going on…by their view of things it’s easy to imagine that for example ISIS etc of today will never answer for genocide because they do not subscribe to Genocide Convention nor have an actual state etc…surely if UN is truly about peace then its justice system and standards must be those that first and foremost consider the victims and not political agenda…

  5. How can this be????? I am shocked.. and very disappointed

    • I’m disappointed too, Sue – as such judgments do nothing to help peace, which inevitably or finally comes once the victims receive justice. A important opportunity missed here to re-define genocide into the modern world rather than keeping it old and impossible to prove despite it going on!

  6. Junacki Narod says:

    On one hand I really wanted a verdict of genocide just to ‘stick it’ to our neighbors to the East and make them pay retributions for their actions but on the other hand I am kind of glad it wasn’t called Genocide against the Croatia people…..even if we all know that it was….. Here is why……

    When I think of victims of genocide, I think of helpless and hopeless people who could do not nothing to defend themselves against their aggressors. Like the Armenians in WW1, Ukranians from the Soviet Union in the 30’s and the Cambodians from Khmer Rouge etc….. That was not us!……We stood up like a Nation of Heroes and defended our Country and our People. The war of the early 90’s could have easily been a Genocide against the Croatian People and it would have been called so by the enitre world…but it wasn’t, becasue we stood up and defended every inch of land we could with whatever we could! Not only did we defend our Country, we victoriously drove the invading army back to where they came from. The ONLY reason the war in Croatia was not called Genocide is becasue we are a nation of Heroes who defended with Honour, Valour and Love of our Homeland.
    If I were a Politician in Croatia today, this would be my message….Instead of …”Poor us that the Genocide ruling did not go our way”…. I would say ‘Of Course it didn’t go our way’….’ It didn’t go our way becasue we are a nation of Heroes who did not lay down and let Genocide happen to our Country and to Our People’

    The History books will say that there was no evidence of Genocide in Croatia and this may be true…..but not becasue the ICJ said so…… but becasue of the Heroics of a small and Proud Nation.

    • Good way to be, Junacki Narod – and the confirmation by the ICJ that Operation Storm in 1995 was legitimate and just means a great deal especially there are those, including some in Croatia like former president Stjepan Mesic – who have spent almost fifteen year spreading lies against Tudjman and Operation Storm. Time to finally get rid of communists/former communists from important positions in Croatia.

  7. Neither country had the slightest slimmer of a hope of winning these cases. I, for one, am happy they are over and both of the representatives comments on moving on and forging positive relations for the future is encouraging, enlightening, and inspiring. Let us put our pasts behind us and look to the mutual future we share. God bless.

    • There’s much to be gained through peace, Zarko, I think however that processing individuals suspected of committing war crimes is an important factor for the victims and governments will need to see to that especially Serbia that has been somewhat reluctant to process this and this judgment may help it along.

  8. The Serbians have POWERFUL friends in the British Parliament!
    This verdict proves that it is OK to invade a country…kill,rob, rape, pillage,torture, destroy religious institutions, destroy local industry and plant land mines in your back yard!…all with IMPUNITY & FORGIVENESS! This will set a precedent, that any country can do this and be forgiven! The Serbs will try again in a short while to take-over Croatia, Bosnian, Kosovo, Montenegro, Makedonia!..because the “‘World Court in the Hague” says it’s OK! This is was all with the accommodation of Josipovic, Mesic, Pusic, Milanovic et. al! This verdict was a classic and the serbs knew the outcome! Croatia puts in a CLAIM and the VLAH cigar, Savo Strbac (Veritas…why would these orthodox bother with the Latin language anyway?), would put in a counter CLAIM! The Serbs are the classic Balkan politicians, and hesitate to say the best politicians in the world!…better than the British, Russians, French!
    The serbs proved that …..1.) there is NO God
    2.) Jesus NEVER existed
    3.) that the world respects these savages and rewards them for GENOCIDE!….it’s really OK!….keep going!

    • It does seem that ICJ Judgment has sent messages worldwide you speak of Tempus Fugit. But Croats are a heroic people and will defend their land as always if it comes to that.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why do we even do we listen to the UN and ICJ, they always play to their own agenda, whether it be helping the serbs or just smearing us in order to push it as a conflict that was a “civil war.” when it was a war of aggression and extermination. We saw what had happened with Gotovina and Markac, and the our people for Herzegovina. This is a move to get us to bow down to their hypocritical stance, no wonder why the United States wants to leave these organizations, and I agree with their stance, Croatia should do the same or try to play Serbia’s game and delay everything for long as possible. Hopefully with Kolinda’s victory the SDP will lose its strangle hold in government and we could move on as a nation and a people.

  10. Make no mistake, this is the new face of genocide denial – Mishka Gora

  11. therealamericro says:

    Serbia’s genocidal intent, and military planing for such was outlined in the Rampart (RAM) Plan that explicitly listed the targeting of civilians as a strategic means to “demoralize the enemy” (Beverly Allen, Rape Warfare).

    The ruling is a farce that used a technicality and ignored inconvenient truths, namely

    a) The same government that carried out the crimes and issued orders to target civilians (RAM Plan) was in power before and after Serbia signed the treaty in March of 1992
    b) The “Krajina” ethnically cleansed, killed, and or arrested 99.5% of the non-Serb population and barred their return (see Martic and Babic findings and rulings).

    The West and International Community have washed their hands of their complicity with this ruling, and via historical revisionism and convenient suppression of exculpatory evidence in numerous ICTY proceedings against Croats and B&H Croats, equated guilt.

    • Nothing changed in Serbia before or after March/April 1992 – same people, same intents, same crimes … the ICJ verdict is indeed a coverup and a shame, therealamericro.

  12. So something the whole world knows about, can’t be proven? BS! It’s a given that all governments have cover-ups… but to make it so blatantly obvious… it’s shameful.

  13. Many politicians want to defy reality .History will judge them..Great article.

  14. Shameful is to put it mildly. The court decided the case was not properly put forth – guess who, after dismissing the previous lawyers, took over the process? A certain “lawyer” who is no longer the Croatian President perhaps. He/they did everything to have the court reach this conclusion because they wanted it to be so… They should leave Croatia and be with their good friends elsewhere.

    • I too had the same fears when some original legal professionals were replaced under the current government and outgoing president, Marice & Tonci

  15. There is no justice coming from this court. All they wanted to do is appease both sides but they failed to do even that.

  16. Never should have been a genocide lawsuit. Croatia should have tried for a lesser charge and for war reparations. Establishing the aggressor is one thing, but making the aggressor pay for their misdeeds is what should have been pursued. Serbs are pursuing MPRI for damages, and will get some reparations…how absurd…the aggressor gets a bloody nose and they are paid for it. Croatia continues to be impotent and apologetic about leaving Yugoslavia. What a disgrace to our defenders and fallen and to all those who sacrificed so much treasure, blood sweat and tears.

  17. It seems like a blatant contradiction.

  18. Reblogged this on IdealisticRebel's Daily View of Favorites.

  19. Hi Ina, I found this to be shocking. How could they find no evidence. Hugs, Barbara

  20. Sindy Degraw says:

    Hi Inavukic! Informative writing ! I learned a lot from the points – Does someone know if my company can find a sample a form version to type on ?


  1. […] 3 February 2015 the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered the verdict in the landmark case «Croatia vs. […]

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