Transitional Justice and the Rule of Law in Western Balkans, with a Focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo

The first panel (from left): Professor Zarije Seizović, Professor Gentian Zyberi, Associate Professor Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Professor Remzije Istrefi. Photograph: C. Kullgreen

On Friday, 2 December 2016 the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights hosted the conference ‘Transitional Justice and the Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies: Critical Reflections on and Lessons Learned from the Western Balkans’. The conference was co-organized by Jasna Jozelić and Gentian Zyberi.
The three panels focused respectively on ‘Transitional justice’, ‘Rule of law, democratic institutions, and EU integration’, and ‘Education and remembrance’. The panels were followed by a lively Q&A session.

Struggle with consolidating the rule of law and fostering reconciliation

The first panel (picture) started with Professor Gentian Zyberi of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights who focused on the challenges of transitional justice processes in the former Yugoslavia, with a focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Professor Zyberi noted the limited degree of progress concerning individual criminal accountability for serious war crimes and reparations for victims and emphasized the need for the international community to remain involved as the countries emerging from the former Yugoslavia struggle with consolidating the rule of law and fostering reconciliation.

Professor Remzije Istrefi of the Faculty of Law of the University of Prishtina pointed out the complexity of the governance situation in post-war Kosovo, with the overlapping powers of the international administration with those of the Kosovar government, and the insufficient work done to prosecute war crime cases by UNMIK and EULEX. Professor Zarije Seizović of the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Sarajevo, explained the complex State system imposed by the Dayton Accords and the shortcomings of the transitional justice process in Bosnia 20 years later.

Challenges concerning common identity-building and EU integration

The second panel started with Dr Gjylbehare Bella Murati of the European School of Law and Governance in Prishtina, Kosovo, who discussed the complex issue of property restitution and the challenges involved in this process for the Kosovar authorities. The second presenter, Jasna Jozelić of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, focused on challenges concerning common identity-building in post-conflict Bosnia. Professor Qerim Qerimi of the Faculty of Law of the University of Prishtina highlighted several challenges concerning consolidating the rule of law in Kosovo and the ongoing EU integration process.

Education and remembrance

The third panel started with Gorana Ognjenović, philosopher and guest researcher at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, who addressed the issue of cultural memory in post-conflict transition in the former Yugoslavia. Next, Professor Goran Šimić of the International University of Sarajevo addressed the issue of the joint effect of media, fragmented educational institutions, and regional institutions on the next generations, concluding that regrettably we are raising generations of haters.

Finally, Professor Dženana Husremović of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo, shared the findings of her research project concerning the teaching of values in the school programs on elementary education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rather worryingly, her research has found that teaching values happens in only 7% of cases.


By Gentian Zyberi
Published Dec. 8, 2016 1:49 PM - Last modified Dec. 8, 2016 3:37 PM