Croatia–Serbia genocide case

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Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)
Tribunal Internacional de Justicia - International Court of Justice.svg
The Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the ICJ.
Court International Court of Justice
Citation(s) Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)

The Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)[1] is a case set to be heard before the International Court of Justice.

The Republic of Croatia filed the suit against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on July 2, 1999, citing Article IX of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[2] The application was filed for Croatia by American lawyer David Rivkin.[3] With the transformation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into Serbia and Montenegro and the dissolution of that country in 2006, Serbia is considered its legal successor.

The Republic of Serbia counter-filed a genocide lawsuit against the Republic of Croatia on January 4, 2010.[4] The application covers missing people, killed people, refugees, expelled people and all military actions and concentration camps with historical account of World War II persecution of Serbs committed by the Independent State of Croatia, puppet state of Nazi Germany, and Ustaše during World War II.[5]

Both applications have a financial aspect, seeking compensation of damages. Opening arguments began on Monday 3 March 2014 and will last until 1 April 2014.[6][7]


Croatia waited for the conclusion of the Bosnian Genocide Case against what was then Serbia and Montenegro before it proceeded with its own case. Sakib Softić, agent of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its case, has said that Croatia is in a much better position than his country was in its own court suit.[8]

Preliminary objection[edit]

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia returned its preliminary objections on September 1, 2002.[9] On November 18, 2008 the court decided on preliminary objections to the case filed by Serbia. The court ruled against Serbia's three objections to the case, while finding that one of these objections was not purely preliminary. Finally, the court decided that it had jurisdiction over the case.[2] Croatia was represented at the proceedings by its justice minister, Ivan Šimonović.[10] The decision made headlines in Croatia and Serbia, more poignantly due to the fact it was the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar in 1991 to Serb forces.[11]

Serbian officials sought from Croatia to withdraw the lawsuit multiple times.[12][13] Then President of Serbia Boris Tadić said that "Serbia considered in previous years, and still believes, that it is always better for all conflicts from wars during the 1990s to be solved in extra-judicial processes, through peaceful means, however, for such an approach of Serbia, partners on the other side are needed" and the Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić said that "I think it would be better for Croatia for it to never come to this process. Our main goal and wish is not to sue each other, but to cooperate on the road towards EU integration, to build good neighborly relations, to solve problems which we have inherited."[14][15] In November 2013 Serbia's Prime Minister Ivica Dačić reiterated a mutual withdrawals of lawsuits between the two countries.[16]

Serbia v. Croatia[edit]

Following the court ruling that it has the jurisdiction in Croatia's case, Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremić announced a plan to file a counter-suit against Croatia.[17] The application was submitted on January 4, 2010. The document will include information on crimes committed against Serbs of Croatia in Gospić, Sisak, Pakrac, Karlovac, Osijek, Paulin Dvor and during the operations Flash, Storm and Medak Pocket. The lawsuit also covers all those victims murdered after the war as they tried to return to their homes they left as refugees. The lawsuit against Croatia contains a historical account, with a focus on World War II persecution of Serbs.[4]

A public opinion poll in Serbia by Blic found that 69.7% of people supported a counter-suit, while 9.1% opposed it.[18] The lawsuit has been opposed by the minor opposition Liberal Democratic Party whose leader said that "Serbia needs a smart foreign policy, which will not respond with a mistake to a mistake that was made in the last century by Croatia".[19][20]

Serbia has repeatedly called for a mutual withdrawal of the genocide case as late as January 2014.[21]

Relation to ICTY[edit]

In the final verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the case of Prosecutor v. Gotovina et al. was an acquittal, some German media have speculated that this opens a possibility for Serbia to pay large reparations to Croatia.[22] However, Serbian media pointed out that several main suspsects involved in the war such as Momčilo Perišić, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović have also been acquitted by the ICTY, leading to speculation on pending likely the closure of Serbia's potential criminal responsibility.[23]


Date Event
July 2, 1999 Croatia files against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
March 1, 2001 Croatia submits a memorial to the ICJ, ahead of the March 14 deadline to do so.
September 1, 2002 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia submits a counter-memorial to the ICJ, ahead of the September 16 deadline to do so.
February 4, 2003 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is reconstituted as Serbia and Montenegro.
April 25, 2003 Croatia submits its written statement, ahead of the April 29 deadline to do so.
June 5, 2006 Serbia and Montenegro separate into individual countries with Serbia succeeding the state in all legal capacity.
February 26, 2007 A judgment is delivered in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro).
May 26–30, 2008 Public hearings on the preliminary objections in the case.
November 18, 2008 The court rules that it has jurisdiction over the case.
January 4, 2010 Serbia files a counter-memorial against Croatia.
December 20, 2010 Croatia's submits its reply to the Serbian counter-memorial on the day of the deadline to do so.
November 4, 2011 Serbia submits its rejoinder on the day of the deadline to do so.
August 30, 2012 Deadline for Croatia to submit its additional reply to the Serbian counter-memorial.
March 3, 2014 Start of the hearing of the case.
February 3, 2015 Croatia v. Serbia ruling delivered.

See also[edit]