DECEMBER 10, 2017


A recent sentence by the international court in The Hague to condemn General Ratko Mladic for the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, though 22 years later, was welcomed by the families of the victims.

While it may indicate almost a closure of a catastrophic period, there remain a number of pending questions about accountability of others during the conflict in Former Yugoslavia. Not only fighters from the fragmented region but others who played a direct policy role were never completely exposed.

To its credit, the Netherlands authorities have tried to examine a culpable role by the Dutch troops which arranged to withdraw despite announcing the area as a safe haven. There were also some expressions of regret by certain UN officials about "mistakes that were made by everyone".

UN accountability was left vague, although the role of specific UN officials was less than clear. Since then, a number of these officials took different turns in career or life. Some joined their governments, rejoined their national armies and some stayed or rose at the UN without any reprimand or accountability, including the UN peacekeeping officer who was specifically handling the issue's file.

It is useful to point out that then-Peacekeeping Chief Kofi Annan, later Secretary-General, had cautioned about a potential human tragedy if no precautionary measures were taken in time. Certain others were not readily open.

With the passage of time, public relations experts would always suggest to close a chapter and look forward to the future. Raising questions now is not to dwell on lack of due accountability but to express a hope that past shortcomings would be taken into consideration when taking future action.