Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The International Tribunal and Beyond: Pursuing Justice for Atrocities in the Western Balkans

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 10:00am
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission) for a joint briefing on the state of accountability for atrocities committed during the 1990s wars in the western Balkans, as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) completes its mandate.

Between 1991 and 2001 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, made up of six republics, was broken apart by a series of brutal armed conflicts. The conflicts were characterized by widespread and flagrant violations of international humanitarian law, among them mass killings of civilians, the massive, organized and systematic detention and rape of women, torture, and practices of ethnic cleansing, including forced displacement.

In 1992 the U.N. established a Commission of Experts that documented the horrific crimes on the ground and led to the 1993 creation of the ICTY. This month, after more than two decades of persistent, ground-breaking efforts to prosecute the individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in the former Yugoslavia, the ICTY is concluding its work. As it prepares to close its doors, this briefing will assess the tribunal’s achievements and limitations, and most importantly, what still needs to be done by the countries of the region to seek justice in outstanding cases, bring greater closure to victims, and foster greater reconciliation among peoples.

Panelists will discuss these questions and suggest ways that the United States, Europe and the international community as a whole can encourage the further pursuit of justice in the Western Balkans. 

This briefing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Mr. McGovern) at 202-226-6379 or or Matthew Singer (for Mr. Hultgren) at (202-226-3989) or or Bob Hand of the Helsinki Commission staff at or 202-225-1901.

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chair, TLHRC
Sen. Roger Wicker
Chairman, Helsinki Commission
Randy Hultgren, M.C.
Co-Chair, TLHRC


Opening Remarks

  • Rep. Randy Hultgren, Co-Chair, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
    Written remarks
  • Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee
    Written remarks


  • Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
    Written statement
  • Nemanja Stjepanovic, Humanitarian Law Fund (from Belgrade, Serbia, live via video)
    Written statement
  • Diane Orentllicher, Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University
    Written statement


  • Robert Hand, Policy Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission


115th Congress