What is Political Reconciliation? Reflections on Reconciliation after the Karadzic Trial

Colleen Murphy is Professor of Law, Philosophy and Political Science as well as Director of the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program. Re-posted from RECOM, found here in English and here in Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian.


By Colleen Murphy

In March 2016, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic guilty on 10 of 11 charges, including genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. He was acquitted on one count of genocide. This verdict spawned significant controversy and commentary. In particular, journalist and scholar Nidzara Ahmetasevic concluded, “In Bosnia now, we are as far away from reconciliation as we were before the Karadzic trial.”[2] Below, I unpack Ahmetasevic’s claim. I focus specifically on the divergent reactions to the Karadzic trial and conviction. Such reactions, I argue, signal an absence of the conditions that would make trust reasonable, and trust is a core component of political reconciliation.

By political reconciliation, I mean the process of rebuilding damaged political relationships.[3] Such repair has a complex set of requirements and entails both institutional and interpersonal changes.[4] Establishing the conditions that make trust reasonable is a key part of the process of political reconciliation, because of what trusting expresses. To trust an individual is to view that person in a particular way, a way that shapes how we interpret their actions and words, and on what words and actions of theirs we concentrate our attention[5] This particular way implies taking a hopeful view of the competence and will of the other. What competence we attribute to someone we trust will vary depending on the relationship in question; competence as a mother is not the same as competence as a citizen or government official. For citizens, basic competence includes the ability to follow the rules and norms that structure interaction among citizens and between citizens and officials. For officials, competence entails knowledge of their role-related responsibilities and rights, as well as recognition of the fact that they act in a public capacity, with the corresponding responsibility to take into account the good of a community when making official decisions. Competence also includes an ability to act on this knowledge. As with competence, the will we attribute to those we trust varies. The robust positive good will towards their children we attribute to trusted parents is different from the more neutral lack of ill will we attribute to trusted citizens and officials. Lack of ill will signals the absence of the desire or intention to harm fellow citizens or officials and a commitment to fair play – a willingness to obey the rules.

Trust also entails a basic expectation of ‘trust responsiveness.’ That is, to trust is to expect the trusted person to be moved to prove reliable, to act in accordance with our expectations, and not to exploit our trust. This expectation is also a moral demand, which is why violations of trust are experienced not simply as disappointments but as betrayals.

Why do we think relationships are damaged when trust is absent? Taking a trusting view and acting on a trustful expectation can express respect and a commitment to reciprocity. It expresses respect, because it implies the presumption of fellow citizens and officials as being competent, basically decent and committed to fair play. And it reflects a commitment to reciprocity, insofar as we take the presumptive view of others we would like to have them take of ourselves. To be trust-responsive is respectful because it implies the right of others to make moral demands of us. In being trust-responsive we are also acting in a manner in which we hope others will act reciprocally.

Political trust is absent following war and repression. Deep distrust is the most typical and, indeed, reasonable attitude to adopt. In the midst of war, a presumptive lack of ill will can make one vulnerable to being killed. This is especially so when conflict is characterized by ethnic cleansing and genocide, as was the case in the Bosnian War. One of the central aims of processes of political reconciliation is to establish conditions where it becomes reasonable to presume the at least basic decency and competence of officials and citizens, and to expect that officials and citizens will prove trust-responsive.

Reactions to the Karadzic trial demonstrate that reconciliation among Bosnians is distant, in part because they point to the absence of conditions that would make such trust as a default response reasonable. One necessary condition for the presumption of the absence of ill will to be reasonable is acknowledgement of past wrongdoing. Acknowledgement entails recognizing past actions and recognizing them as morally wrong. Acknowledgement communicates where the lines for permissible and impermissible conduct should be drawn, and the recognition of such lines on the part of those who are doing the acknowledging. It can provide some evidence of the absence of a desire or intention to harm those previously harmed, and a basic knowledge of how members of a political community should interact.

A commonly shared view of the reactions to the Karadzic trial and verdict is that they reflect “the same ideas pervading local politics.”[6] Among prominent Bosnian Serbs, reactions to the conviction cast doubt on the justice of the verdict, by calling into question the impartiality and competence of the ICTY, characterizing Karadzic as a hero unjustly targeted and victimized by such proceedings, and focusing on crimes against the Serbs that have so far gone unpunished.[7] In the words of President of the War Veterans Association of Republika Srpska, Milomir Savicic, “’I am disappointed with the justification of the verdict. That draconian punishment is based on very weak evidence.’”[8] Mladen Bosić, head of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), stated “The Hague tribunal has once again shown that it is a political court, the politically based verdicts were handed down to all Serb leaders from Serbia, [Bosnia’s autonomous] Republika Srpska and Croatia.”[9]

What is telling is what such reactions omit. Setting aside the question of Karadzic’s particular role, missing from such statements is any recognition that Serbian forces committed any wrongdoing whatsoever during the Bosnian War. Instead, there is scepticism expressed about the evidence of killing, torture, mass rapes and genocide – scepticism which can be interpreted as denial that such wrongs took place. By providing no evidence of acknowledgement of wrongdoing, such reactions also provide no evidence that it is reasonable to believe similar wrongdoing will not happen again in the future.

Such reactions also compound the already deep scepticism among victims and members of their families about the possibility of ever witnessing proper acknowledgement of the wrongs committed. For many Bosnian Muslims, reactions have reflected consternation about the genocide count on which Karadzic was acquitted and the message which that acquittal sent, objection to the limited duration of the sentence, and worries about the trial ultimately being interpreted as vindicating or justifying the actions of Serbs. A mother and widow from Srebrenica, Hatidza Mehmedovic, complained, “This judgment is a reward for Karadžić.”[10] Saja Coric from Mostar reacted, “The whole of Republika Srpska is like a mass grave… we are still searching for our kids… and they claim this is not genocide.”[11] Prior to the verdict, Mirsad Duratovic, who survived the Omarska concentration camp, stated, “’If the judges fail to convict Karadžić for genocide in 1992 in Prijedor, it will be a slap in the face of the victims. Everything else will be a reward for Karadzic and Republika Srpska.’”[12] Underlying such reactions is the anticipation of disappointment and the expectation of continuing denial with respect to the wrongs done and the causes of such wrongdoing.

Such divided reactions also point to important limits to the contributions criminal trials on their own can make to political reconciliation. Trials of individual perpetrators cannot by themselves establish the conditions under which trust of fellow citizens and officials become reasonable. Establishing such post-war conditions requires examining the ideologies, institutions and norms that made possible normalized collective and political wrongdoing, as well as the consequences of past wrongdoing, such as ethnic cleansing, that impede political interaction predicated on respect and reciprocity.[13]

The author is a Professor of Law, Philosophy and Political Science as well as Director of the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is author of the books ‘The Conceptual Foundations of Transitional Justice’ (Cambridge University Press, 2016, forthcoming), and ‘A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation’ (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

[1] I thank John Tasioulas and Riada Ašimović Akyol for their comments on an earlier draft.

[2] Nidzara Ahmetasevic, “The Radovan Karadzic verdict will change nothing,” Al Jazeera March 26, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/radovan-karadzic-verdict-change-bosnia-serbia-160327093504907.html

[3] For an overview of different senses of reconciliation see Linda Radzik and Murphy, Colleen, “Reconciliation”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/reconciliation/

[4] See Colleen Murphy, A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

[5] Karen Jones, “Trust as an Affective Attitude,” Ethics 107 (1996), 4-25.

[6] Ahmetasevic, “The Radovan Karadzic verdict.”

[7] Julian Borger, “Radovan Karadžić’s sentence for Bosnia genocide exposes continuing divisions,” March 24, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/24/radovan-karadzics-sentence-for-bosnia-genocide-exposes-continuing-divisions

[8] Denis Dzidic, “Karadzic Verdict: Mixed Reactions Reflect Divided Bosnia,” Balkan Insight, March 24, 2016, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/karadzic-verdict-mixed-reactions-reflect-divided-society-03-24-2016

[9] Julian Borger and Owen Bowcott, “’Is the tribunal not ashamed?’ Karadžić sentence angers victims,” The Guardian, March 24, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/24/radovan-karadzic-hague-tribunal-sentence-survivors-victims-reaction

[10] Borger, “Radovan Karadžić’s sentence.”

[11] Dzidic, “Karadzic Verdict.”

[12] Borger and Bowcott, “’Is the tribunal not ashamed?’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/24/radovan-karadzic-hague-tribunal-sentence-survivors-victims-reaction

[13] On this see Colleen Murphy, The Conceptual Foundations of Transitional Justice (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Bethany Wages on Cataloging Pre-Revolutionary Manuscripts at the Library of Congress

This summer, REEES M.A. graduate Bethany Wages has been interning at the Library of Congress European Division. Check out her blog posts on her experience, including “How to Identify Yudin Materials 101”:

“So far, my favorite way to identify a Yudin item is by Klochkov tickets. Klochkov was a dealer in rare and antique books and helped Yudin acquire much of his library. Klochkov would put his personalized book seller tickets in the front or back of books he acquired for Yudin. They are often brightly colored (I have seen bright green, pink, blue, purple) and some are quite large and often depict Klochkov himself, spiderwebs and books, or even young people reading.”

Read more at: https://bibliotekarblog.wordpress.com/

Upcoming Deadline! 2013 Summer Research Laboratory at Illinois

The Summer Research Laboratory (SRL) on Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia is open to all scholars with research interests in the Russian, East European and Eurasian region for eight weeks during the summer months from June 10 until August 2. The SRL provides scholars access to the resources of the University of Illinois Slavic collection within a flexible time frame where scholars have the opportunity to seek advice and research support from the librarians of the Slavic Reference Service (SRS).  Graduate students and junior scholars will also have opportunity to attend a specialized workshop on Scholarly and Literary Translation from June 10-15, 2013.

The deadline for grant funding is April 15 and is fast approaching! REEEC will continue to receive applications for the Summer Research Lab after the grant deadline, but housing and travel funds will not be guaranteed.

For more information and to apply, please see the SRL website: http://www.reeec.illinois.edu/srl/

For graduate students, the SRL provides an opportunity to conduct research prior to going abroad and extra experience to refine research skills.  Students will also have the opportunity of seeking guidance from specialized librarians skilled in navigating resources pertaining to and originating from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia.

The SRS is an extensive service that provides access to a wide range of materials that center on and come from: Russia, the Former Soviet Union, Czech and Slovak Republics, Former Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. The International & Area Studies Library, where the Slavic reference collections are housed, contains work stations for readers, a collection of basic reference works, and current issues of over 1,000 periodicals and 110 newspapers in Western and area languages.

The Slavic Reference Service provides access to several unique resources pertaining to the Russian, East European and Eurasian region.  Currently, there are plans at the University of Illinois’ to become the first library in the Western Hemisphere to gain access to the Russian State Library’s Electronic Dissertations Database, which contains the full text of nearly 1 million dissertations in a wide variety of fields.

In addition, the SRS provides access to

  • the only copy of the famous 594-volume Turkestanskii Sbornik  of materials on Central Asia prior to 1917 available outside Uzbekistan;
  • recent direct acquisitions from Central Asia which include the complete national bibliography of Kazakhstan (2002-2010) and the complete digitized national bibliography of Uzbekistan (1917-2009), both of which are not held by any other U.S. library;
  • perhaps the most complete collection of Russian Imperial provincial newspapers (gubernskie vedomosti) in North America; and
  • extensive print, digital, and microform holdings relating to Eastern Europe, including rare materials acquired via Keith Hitchins and other noted scholars.

 

 

Russian Diplomat to Visit Campus

His Excellency, Dr. Alexey Kozhemyakov, Head of the Charter Office of the Council of Europe, will visit the University of Illinois in early November to participate in a European Union Center symposium,  co-sponsored by REEEC, on the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Dr. Kozhemyakov has a doctorate in law from Moscow State University and served as an adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev before working for the Council of Europe.

The one-day symposium, on November 5, will mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Charter for signatures, and will examine the impact of the Charter on European language policy and politics. Dr. Kozhemyakov will give the first keynote lecture at the symposium and will address the topic “What is the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and how is it implemented?”

Watch your email and the REEEC calendar for opportunities for REEEC students and faculty to meet Dr. Kozhemyakov while he is on campus. For more details on the symposium, see the European Union Center calendar.

Crossing Boundaries: Merging Eurasian Insights with the Study of Afghanistan

THE EURASIA PROGRAM of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Central Asia Program at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University are pleased to announce a field development workshop, to be held on the GWU campus November 1-4, 2012.

OVERVIEW

Targeting graduate students and young scholars, this workshop will explore the still relatively unknown political, social, economic, and cultural interactions between Eurasia and Afghanistan. We are particularly interested in examining possible linkages between studies of Afghanistan and the Central Asian regions of Eurasia.

In July of 2012, the international community pledged $16 billion in aid over the next three years to assist with reconstruction and stabilization in Afghanistan. Persistent civil unrest, interethnic hostilities, a collapsed economic system, and corruption raise serious questions concerning Afghan stability and security. Can studies of social, cultural, and political change in Central Asia inform our understanding of the challenges facing Afghanistan over the coming decade? How might an improved understanding of sociopolitical change in Afghanistan contribute to our understanding of Eurasia generally and Central Asia specifically?

“Crossing Boundaries” will convene junior scholars interested in exploring the linkages between Central Asia and Afghanistan for an intensive workshop led by a group of interdisciplinary senior scholars. We hope to welcome a broad variety of work. Projects ranging from direct assessments of border issues and the international drug trade to comparative insights on the ways in which religion influences maternal and child health within and across ethnic groups will be considered. We welcome scholars with a specific research focus on Eurasia who are interested in exploring the broader implications of their research in relation to Afghanistan, and scholars working on themes that cut across Afghanistan and Eurasia. The meeting will provide opportunities to discuss current work, develop ideas for future projects, and solicit feedback from, and network with, fellow scholars interested in merging the study of Eurasia with that of Afghanistan. Professionalization sessions covering data availability, publishing strategies, grant writing, and navigating the job market will also be included.

ELIGIBILITY

Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents and currently either within five years of the completion of their dissertation, enrolled in an accredited PhD program, or enrolled in an area studies MA program. Applicants should have an identified and developed research project that relates to the theme and focus of the workshop. Preference will be given to those developing their dissertation.

Full instructions on how to apply can be found on the program’s website: http://www.ssrc.org/programs/pages/eurasia-program/crossing-boundaries-merging-eurasian-insights-with-the-study-of-afghanistan/

Application materials should be submitted electronically to the SSRC Eurasia Program at eurasia@ssrc.org by 5:00 p.m. EDT on October 1, 2012. Travel costs, workshop meals, and accommodation for participants will be covered by the SSRC. Should you have any questions, please contact the Eurasia Program (eurasia@ssrc.org).

Financial support for the workshop is provided through the Title VIII Program, which is administered by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the US Department of State, providing funding for research and language training to American scholars and students for the study of Eastern Europe and Eurasia (Independent States of the Former Soviet Union). Title VIII maintains US expertise in the regions and brings open source, policy-relevant research to the service of the US Government.

International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF)

Open for applications, next deadline is November 7th 2012. Apply Now

The Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) offers nine to twelve months of support to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who are enrolled in PhD programs in the United States and conducting dissertation research on non-US topics. Eighty fellowships are awarded annually.  Fellowship amounts vary depending on the research plan, with a per-fellowship average of $20,000. The fellowship includes participation in an SSRC-funded interdisciplinary workshop upon the completion of IDRF-funded research.

Eligibility

The program is open to graduate students in the humanities and social sciences — regardless of citizenship — enrolled in PhD programs in the United States. Applicants to the 2013 IDRF competition must complete all PhD requirements except on-site research by the time the fellowship begins or by December 2013, whichever comes first.

The program invites proposals for dissertation research conducted, in whole or in part, outside the United States, about non-US topics. It will consider applications for dissertation research grounded in a single site, informed by broader cross-regional and interdisciplinary perspectives, as well as applications for multi-sited, comparative, and transregional research.  Proposals that identify the United States as a case for comparative inquiry are welcome; however, proposals which focus predominantly or exclusively on the United States are not eligible.

Applicants from select disciplines within the humanities (Art History, Architectural History, Classics, Drama/Theater, Film Studies, Literature, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Political Theory, and Religion) are welcome to request three or more months of funding for international on-site dissertation research (in combination with US-based research, for a total of nine to twelve months of funding). All other applicants (for instance, those in Anthropology, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology, among others) must request nine to twelve months of on-site, site-specific dissertation research with a minimum of six months of research outside of the United States.

Applicants who have completed significant funded dissertation research in one country by the start of their proposed IDRF research may be ineligible to apply to the IDRF to extend research time in the same country. Eligibility will be at the discretion of the IDRF program, depending on completed research time and funding. The IDRF program expects fellows to remain at their research site(s) for the full nine- to twelve-month funding period. The IDRF program will not support study at foreign universities, conference participation, or dissertation write-up. The program does not accept applications from PhD programs in law, business, medicine, nursing or journalism, nor does it accept applications in doctoral programs that do not lead to a PhD. For more information on the 2013 IDRF competition, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

Selection Criteria

The IDRF competition promotes a range of approaches and research designs beyond single-site or single-country research, including comparative work at the national and regional levels and explicit comparison of cases across time frames. The program is open to proposals informed by a range of methodologies in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, including research in archives and manuscript collections, fieldwork and surveys, or quantitative data collection.

Applicants are expected to write in clear, intelligible prose for a selection committee that is multi-disciplinary and cross-regional. Proposals should display a thorough knowledge of the major concepts, theories, and methods in the applicant’s discipline and in other related fields, as well as a bibliography relevant to the research. Applicants should specify why an extended period of on-site research is critical for successful completion of the proposed doctoral dissertation. The research design of proposals should be realistic in scope, clearly formulated, and responsive to theoretical and methodological concerns. Applicants should provide evidence of having attained an appropriate level of training to undertake the proposed research, including evidence of a degree of language fluency sufficient to complete the project.  For more information on the 2013 IDRF competition, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

Program Director
Daniella Sarnoff
Program Manager
Elsa Ransom
Contact

Additional Information


Originating Website: http://www.ssrc.org/fellowships/idrf-fellowship/