47 Geo. J. Int'l L. 1321 (2015-2016)
Establishing the Facts about Mass Atrocities: Accounting for the Failure of the ICTY to Persuade Target Audiences

handle is hein.journals/geojintl47 and id is 1332 raw text is: 


                           MARKio MILANOVI(*


  In an earlier piece, I discussed thefindings of a series ofpublic opinion surveys
in the former Yugoslavia, probing the attitudes of the respondent populations
regarding the mass atrocities committed during the Yugoslav wars of the 1 990s,
such as the Srebrenica genocide. That article concluded that the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the first modern, post-
Nuremberg international criminal jurisdiction, failed to persuade the target
audiences in the former Yugoslavia that the findings in its judgments are true.
The surveys show that denialism is widespread and governed by ethnic bias. For
example, only 10% of the Serbian population accept the facts about the
Srebrenica genocide, the greatest crime committed in Europe since World War II,
as they were established by the ICTY While that companion piece addressed the
empirical, what question, this one looks at the equally, if not even more
important, why question: why has the ICTY proven to be so ineffectual in
inducing attitude change? In answering this question I proceed primarily from
the theoretical standpoint of social psychology, enabling a more sophisticated
understanding of how the target audiences in the former Yugoslavia have so
persistently resisted internalizing the ICTY's factual findings. I argue that the
causes of the ICTY's ineffectiveness are complex, turning on an interplay between
subjective and objective limitations on individuals'processing of information
about war crimes, limitations that are largely independent of the quality of the
Tribunal's own work. For example, average citizens normally lack any immedi-
ate experience of the event, which necessitates the mediation of information by
third parties, e.g., the media and political and intellectual elites, while they
similarly lack the time, expertise and resources to rigorously examine the
information by themselves. Remoteness from the event also facilitates the avoid-
ance of revising previously acquired beliefs about the event, for instance through
discrediting certain sources of information, such as the ICTY. Crucially, ethnic

    * Associate Professor, University of Nottingham School of Law; Vice-President, European
Society of International Law; Associate, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights. E-mail:
    I would like to thankJutta Brunee,Jacob Cogan, David Fraser, Monica Hakimi, Larry Helfer,
Zarko Markovic, Sam Moyn, Roger O'Keefe, Christian Tams, Sandy Sivakumaran, Ed Swaine,
Anne van Aaken, and Ingrid Wuerth for their comments.  2016, Marko Milanovic.


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