Monday, May 26, 2008

ICJ: Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)

Today, oral proceedings commenced in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia). The hearings, which will last through Friday, pertain only to Serbia's preliminary objections regarding jurisdiction and admissibility.

In its application, Croatia alleged that "[b]y directly controlling the activity of its armed forces, intelligence agents, and various paramilitary detachments, on the territory of . . . Croatia, in the Knin region, eastern and western Slavonia, and Dalmatia," Serbia and Montenegro was liable for "ethnic cleansing" committed against Croatian citizens, "a form of genocide." Croatia requested reparations, included a declaration that Serbia and Montenegro "ha[d] breached its legal obligations" to Croatia under the Genocide Convention and a finding that Serbia "ha[d] an obligation to pay to . . . Croatia, in its own right and as parens patriae for its citizens, reparations for damages to persons and property, as well as to the Croatian economy and environment . . . in a sum to be determined by the Court." Croatia founded the Court's jurisdiction on Article IX of the Genocide Convention.

In accordance with ICJ practice, the parties' written pleadings have not yet been made public. An ICJ press release, though, indicates that Serbia bases its preliminary objections on a number of grounds:
  • that "the Court lack[s] jurisdiction over the dispute because the FRY was not party to the Genocide Convention on 2 July 1999, the date proceedings were instituted before the Court. Serbia [contends] that it did not become party to the Convention until 10 June 2001, after its admission to the United Nations on 1 November 2000, and, in addition, that it never became bound by Article IX of the Genocide Convention because it entered a reservation to that article when it acceded to the Convention";
  • "that Croatia’s Application was inadmissible insofar as the most serious incidents and omissions described therein occurred prior to 27 April 1992, the date on which the FRY came into being, and could not therefore be attributed to it"; and
  • "that certain specific claims made by Croatia were inadmissible or moot."

The verbatim record of the proceedings (updated daily) can be found here.