“The Srebrenica genocide was the worst atrocity crime on European soil since the Second World War,” is stated by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a video message for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, commemorated on 11 July.
Twenty-five years later, we pay tribute to the thousands brutally murdered — and pledge to never forget them. We share the grief of their families, including those whose family members are still missing. And we re-affirm our solidarity with the survivors.
A quarter century ago, the United Nations and the international community failed the people of Srebrenica. As former Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, this failure will “haunt our history forever”.
That is why I call on everyone in the region and beyond to counter hate speech and the rhetoric of division and narratives of mistrust and fear. All communities, all leaders and all organizations — including the media — must make this pledge.
All citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve the unwavering commitment of their leaders to work towards an environment of mutual respect without discrimination, hatred or incitement to violence.
On this sombre anniversary, we are reminded that peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still fragile. We cannot let up in working towards genuine reconciliation. We owe this to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, the survivors, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to all humanity.
“The international community, and in particular the UN, has accepted its share of responsibility with respect to the tragedy at Srebrenica and has worked hard to learn from the lessons of its failures,” said Mr. Guterres in a statement earlier.
“The difficult task of building trust to allow for full reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina lies with the people of the country’s various communities. To build a better and common future, the tragedies of the past must be recognized by those communities,” he added, reaffirming UN’s support non-repetition and reconciliation efforts.
In his message, the UN chief also noted that 2017 marks the closing of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a UN tribunal established to prosecute those persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
Both the ICTY and the International Court of Justice have concluded that the acts committed at Srebrenica constituted genocide. The ICTY has determined the criminal responsibility of different individuals for the Srebrenica massacre and has convicted them of genocide.
“The terrible events […] are historical facts and have been documented extensively,” said Mr. Guterres, speaking of the killing of 8,000 boys and men by Bosnian Serb forces when they overran Srebrenica in July 1995.
“On this day, we remember and honour the thousands of men and boys who were slaughtered, and express our solidarity with the families and friends of those whose lives were taken,” he added.
(Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)