by Tina Svalina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Once the dynamic duo, Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein and Bill Stuebner hit the stage, they were unstoppable. Although, the situations addressed were not in any way comical, both speakers incorporated some dark humor to draw us deeper into the conversation and at a couple points also allowed for a peek into the incomprehensible Balkan psyche.
Amb. Klein has served as a Transitional Administrator in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium with the rank of Under-Secretary General, as well as Principal Deputy High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and most recently as Special Representative and Coordinator of United Nations operations in Liberia from 2003 – 2005. Bill Stuebner worked as the special advisor for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International War Crimes Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for OSCE, and as the Executive Director of the Alliance for the International Conflict Prevention and Resolution. Their combined experience allowed for a comprehensive analysis of UN missions and international war crimes tribunals, and touched on truth and reconciliation commissions. Amb. Klein’s presentation on his mission in Liberia shed light on the complexity within UN missions, a complexity which was mirrored by the many cultures present in his battalion. He discussed the challenges of achieving disarmament, establishing rule of law, a judiciary and and restoring state authority, as steps to a successful mission. Furthermore, he asked “is the justice you get, the justice you really want?” We have found that justice is not the same for everyone. In many conflicts it is hard to distinguish who’s justice it is we are looking for. Are we there to restore the lives of the victims, to gain peace of mind because we initially turned our heads pretending not to see or implemented ineffective half measures to make it look like we were doing something?
Both speakers highlighted that it is often difficult to draw a clear line between victim and aggressor. As in the case of the former Yugoslavia, where war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by all sides. The ICTY mandate was to prosecute those who were most responsible. Stuebner explained that the first case, Tadić, was a low hanging fruit that was picked for the sole purpose of showing the international community that something was being done and put ICTY on the map. Again the question arises, whose justice is it? That of the international community, that of the victim, or that which we see in our heads as compensation enough for survivors of tragedies such as Srebrenica?