Bosnian leader says UN must right the wrongs of Srebrenica

23 September 2008

The United Nations must take action to reverse the de facto “ethnic apartheid” that has taken root in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of efforts to redress the failure surrounding the Srebrenica massacre, the Balkan country’s leader told the General Assembly today.

The UN has acknowledged that, by its own acts and omissions, it is partially responsible for the July 1995 Srebrenica killings in which nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys lost their lives, casting a shadow over the world body forever, said Haris Silajdžić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“We do not want the United Nations to be haunted,” he told world leaders gathered at UN Headquarters in New York. “This Organization’s credibility is too important to the world to carry the burden of this failure.”

Rather, the world body must ensure that mistakes are not repeated and that past errors are corrected, Mr. Silajdžić stressed.

“We cannot bring back the dead, but we can give dignity and justice to the survivors,” he said. “What we say today is not aimed at the past, but at the future, and not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Despite the positive results delivered by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, many key issues remain, including the blocking of ‘minority’ returns by the authorities of the Republika Srpska, an entity within the country, by either directly taking part in violence or by not protecting people from attacks due to their ethnic background, the Chairman said.

“Dayton never intended such ethnic apartheid to take root in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he declared.

“It is the responsibility of this Organization to make it right,” he added. “Just as we should not have been forced to smuggle arms to defend ourselves, we should not be forced to smuggle basic human rights, justice and democracy” into the country.

 

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