Relatives of those killed at Srebrenica are attempting to sue the United Nations and the Dutch government over the massacre. This is a civil case in addition to the various war crimes tribunals being held at the Hague.
I have two positions on this. First off, I don’t think the Dutch government should be held liable, or culpable in this case. The Dutch “Peace keepers,” were screwed before they got to Bosnia. Their hands were tied long before they ever set foot on the gorund by UN restrictions. Things like being unable to carry loaded weapons, or return hostile fire, or enforce UN mandates, or do anything other than give up when confronted by the Serbian partisans. Those soldiers were put in an untenable position, charged with a task that they were in turn not allowed to actually do.
ould they have done something at that time? Maybe, but it would ultimately have been futile, and would only have made them out to be “bad guys” for exacerbating the violence. Besides that, they are good soldiers. They followed the legal orders of their commanders, who were taking their orders from the duly authorized legal authority of the UN. I cannot hold them accountable for what they did, as it was exactly what they were told to do, and was confirmed by their superiors in the UN “command.” I have no doubts, from published accounts, that it galled them no end, and it still bothers them deeply today, a decade later.
The United Nations on the other hand, should be held liable, culpable, and accountable for what happened. It was thier decisions which allowed this to happen. the stated “rules of no-engagement,” the direct order to the Dutch soldiers to stand down and give in to the Serbs, the lack of any sort of enforcement capability, directly contributed, and allowed the events at Srebrenica to happen. In effect, the UN polices regarding thier peace keepers, and the so called “safe zones,” aided and abeted the Serbian insurgents efforts.
So here’s to hoping the Srebrenica relatives and survivors win their case. While they may never collect anything from the UN, it will put on record what the UN did, and did not do in Bosnia. It will enter a legal judgement against the UN for being the ineffectual hypocrites that they are.