Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

Helsinki Commissioners Laud Bosnian War Crimes Tribunals, Call for Continued Cooperation from Balkan States

WASHINGTON – At a briefing held today, Commissioners of the U.S. Helsinki Commission praised the progress of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and called on Serbia , Bosnia and other Balkan states to cooperate with the tribunal in order to bring to justice those guilty of war crimes. In the wake of a Commission briefing, which was held in cooperation with the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the commissioners noted the success of the tribunal and praised the recent establishment of the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber.

“Nothing can ever undo the carnage that was unleashed by the Balkan wars of the 1990s, but out of those dark days the global community established that justice is a global principle to which all nations must adhere,” said Commission Chairman Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). “The ICTY has lain to rest the idea that national sovereignty is a shield behind which the most horrible crimes can be committed with impunity.”

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe , also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

“The genocide and ethnic cleansing that occurred in Europe during the 1990s is something that we never expected to witness again after 1945. The existence of such atrocities is proof that the world must always be on guard and prepared to bring to justice those who would commit the most heinous acts. That principle has been reaffirmed by the International Criminal Tribunal,” added Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Dayton Agreement which ended the 1992-1995 civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The war, which was characterized by the “ethnic cleansing” of civilian populations, was the most violent conflict in Europe since the Second World War. After the war’s conclusion, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was established at The Hague to prosecute those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“It has been a long, hard road, but slowly there has been a reckoning for those who committed the most brutal atrocities in Europe since the Second World War. Governments are beginning to realize that their place in the international community is dependent on their adhering to a standard of international justice. I call on all governments in the region to immediately apprehend and extradite the remaining at-large war criminals to the ICTY,” said Commission Ranking Member Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

The 55 participating States in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) played a crucial role in helping to stabilize the situation in Bosnia by assisting in peacekeeping efforts and election monitoring subsequent to the signing of the Dayton Agreement. The OSCE was established pursuant to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act which enshrined for the first time in international affairs the idea that issues of security were directly related to the acceptance of human rights. The outcome of the Bosnia conflict, specifically the establishment of the war crimes tribunal, has been seen by some experts as a reaffirmation of the Helsinki principles.

“Some of the worst alleged war criminals remain at large, but it is only a matter of time before they are caught and brought to justice,” added Commissioner and President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). “The international community was universally horrified by the atrocities that we saw in the Balkans. A sharp line has now been drawn in the sand, and the word is out that no nation may cross it.”

This year, with considerable U.S. support, the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber has become operational. This specialized court is part of the effort to complete the work of the ICTY by bringing the focus of the tribunal down to the national level.

“The establishment of specialized courts to try the crimes that have been committed in the region is part of a long-term goal to bring justice closer to home for those who believed that their positions made them immune to justice,” added Chairman Brownback. “Now we are a step closer to achieving that ambition.”

Media contact

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Hearings

Hamas’ Hostages, Putin’s Prisoners, and Freeing Inte...

Oct 25, 2023

The practice of seizing hostages and political prisoners, as well as actively terrorizing civilians is a constant displayed by Hamas in Israel and Russia’s war against Ukraine. To highlight issues related to the United States’ strategy to free hostages and political prisoners, last year the Commission’s Ranking Member Congressman Steve Cohen and Chairman Joe Wilson […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner

Sep 20, 2023

Stream here: HEARING: Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner – YouTube Vladimir Kara-Murza, a father, husband, and a freedom fighter, has been in detention for over five hundred days and is currently being transferred to a prison in Siberia. As he is being moved, his family has lost all contact with him and are faced with worry […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Rescuing Ukrainian Children and Women from Russia...

Jul 26, 2023

Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, from wartime atrocities and from other threats such as human trafficking. Ukraine’s children are suffering serious injury […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Russia’s Alpine Assets: Money Laundering and S...

Jul 18, 2023

Switzerland has for years been a primary destination for Russian money laundering and, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a weak link in Western sanctions enforcement. This Helsinki Commission hearing examined Switzerland’s poor track record of rooting out dirty Russian money and examined potential paths forward for U.S. policymakers in persuading Switzerland to uphold its […]

screen-reader-text
Articles

United States Demonstrates Global Leadership on Ukra...

Jul 14, 2023

The Helsinki Commission’s four senior leaders helmed the United States’ bicameral, bipartisan delegation to the 30th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly last week in Vancouver, Canada. Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), serving as Head of Delegation, was joined by Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) as Deputy Head of Delegation as well as Ranking Members […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Supporting A Democratic and Secure Moldova

Jul 12, 2023

In recent years, Moldova has made notable steps to improve its democratic institutions and combat corruption. President Maia Sandu and her Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) have spearheaded wide-ranging reforms and backed a number of high-profile anti-corruption cases. Moldova has also made strides toward greater integration with the European Union (EU). In 2022, the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Chair and Co-Chair Lead Delegati...

Jul 10, 2023

WASHINGTON—Helsinki Commission Co-Chair Senator Ben Cardin (MD) and Helsinki Commission Chair Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the 30th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) in Vancouver, Canada from June 30-July 4. As Head of Delegation and Deputy Head of Delegation respectively, Senator Cardin and Representative Wilson welcomed the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Hearing: Supporting a Democratic and Secure Moldova

Jul 06, 2023

Wednesday, July 12, 2023 2:00 pm Cannon House Office Building, Room 210 Live stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm-R6rfQbCo In recent years, Moldova has enacted numerous reforms under current Moldovan President Maia Sandu to strengthen its democratic institutions, combat corruption and kleptocracy, and integrate with the European Union. In 2022, the European Union granted Moldova “Candidate” status in its […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Leadership Celebrate Pardon of N...

Jun 23, 2023

Washington—Today, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Steve Cohen (TN-09), applauded Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili’s decision to issue a presidential pardon for journalist Nikoloz “Nika” Gvaramia. Mr. Gvaramia, an outspoken media figure and […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Chairman Wilson and RM Cohen Mark Third Annual Count...

Jun 16, 2023

WASHINGTON—Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Joe Wilson and Ranking Member Steve Cohen, Co-Chairmen of the Counter-Kleptocracy Caucus, marked the third annual Counter-Kleptocracy Month. “Foreign corruption and kleptocracy is the main reason that we face a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine today. It is the way that the Islamic Republic of Iran sustains itself. It is the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HELSINKI COMMISSION SENDS APPEAL TO GEORGIAN PRESIDE...

Apr 28, 2023

WASHINGTON— The leadership of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02), Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), and Ranking Members Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Senator Roger Wicker (MS) sent a letter to Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili urging her to intervene to break […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Leadership Statement on Georgian...

Mar 06, 2023

WASHINGTON—In response to news that the Georgian parliament is considering Russian-style foreign agent legislation, which would have a chilling effect on Georgia’s vibrant civil society, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-2), Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (MS) issued the following joint statement: “Since regaining independence, the Georgian people have clearly and […]

screen-reader-text