The Yugoslav Crises: A Brief Synopsis

The Yugoslav Wars were the culmination of ethnic conflicts, wars of independence, and insurgencies fought from 1991 to 2001 in the former Yugoslavia, which led to the breakup of the state. The Humanitarian Law Center estimates that the series of conflicts led to the death of 130,000 people, the evacuation of 2.4 million people, and internal displacement of 2 million people.

At its core, the conflicts were based around the territorial control of Southeast Europe, a region of great ethnic and religious diversity. After the death of socialist dictator President Josip Broz Tito in 1980, a period of instability ensued for the country of Yugoslavia and its people. In response to this mutability, the Serbians sought to expand their political influence within the six-republic federation, which, at the time, included Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.

The Yugoslav crises are remembered today, characterized by ethnic cleansing, the indiscriminant shelling of towns and cities occupied by innocent civilians and mass rape that took place within the region for nearly a decade. Many of the wars ended with the signing of peace agreements, such as the General Framework Agreement for Peace, which was signed when Bosnia secured its independence.

The effects of such an unthinkable disaster are multi-directional, complex, and still exist within the social and political landscape of Southeast Europe. To help restore justice for the lives that were lost during this period, the United Nations established a court of law, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where people who committed war crimes were tried. This institution, formed in 1993, was a body established to prosecute serious crimes committed during the Yugoslav Wars, and to try their perpetrators. The ICTY indicted 161 individuals for war crimes, such as murder, torture, rape, and enslavement, in connection with the Yugoslav Wars.

Read about the effects of the Yugoslav crises here.