Before You Ask a Wise Man, Ask Someone Who Has Done It.

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?

2017-09-01T16:46:14+00:00