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Britain drafts divisive Srebrenica UN resolution

June 10, 2015

Britain has taken initiative in drafting a UN resolution to mark the 20th anniversary of the atrocities committed in Srebrenica. But not everyone has welcomed the use of the term "genocide."

Skeletal remains discovered near Srebrenica
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Britain has said it is working toward drafting a UN Security Council resolution to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, reflecting in particular on the UN's failure at the time to prevent genocide. The move was reported to have angered Bosnian Serbs, who live in their own autonomous region in Bosnia.

Edward Ferguson, Britain's ambassador to Bosnia, said that the exact wording of the resolution was still under discussion.

"We expect that it will commemorate the victims of the genocide at Srebrenica, and those who suffered on all sides in the war, and that it will encourage further steps towards reconciliation and a brighter future for Bosnia and Herzegovina," he explained.

Zeljka Cvijanovic, prime minister of Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic, home to a majority of Orthodox Christian Serbs, has called the move "an attack."

"When judging such initiatives, you have to consider whether it is stabilizing or destabilizing the situation here," Cvijanovic told reporters, according to the FENA news agency.

Worst atrocity on European soil since World War II

On July 11, 1995, about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were rounded up and taken from the Dutch-mandated UN compound of Srebrenica - which had been considered a safe haven for displaced people - and later executed. Their bodies were ditched in pits in surrounding areas. International courts, including the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, have ruled the events a genocide.

Bosnian Serb forces were commanded by General Ratko Mladic, who awaits trial before an international court in The Hague facing 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war, which left a total of 100,000 dead. The events in Srebrenica are considered the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

The draft resolution is expected to come up for a vote during the first week of July as Bosnia prepares to hold commemorations at the Srebrenica memorial on July 11.

Twenty years after the war ended, Bosnia remains in a fragile state, with its economy stagnating on account of the complex power-sharing system and tensions between its two constituent republics. During a visit to Sarajevo last week, Pope Francis called for reconciliation and peace between the country's conflicted ethnic groups.

ss/cmk (AFP, Reuters)