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Article International: Genocide Conviction Against Ratko Mladic Upheld

(June 15, 2021) On June 8, 2021, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) upheld the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s (ICTY’s) 2017 judgment against Ratko Mladic. As the former commander of the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army, Mladic was sentenced to life in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws or customs of war. He appealed this conviction in 2018. The final verdict in this case means that the trials spanning the last 25 years regarding the atrocities of the 1992–95 wars leading up to and resulting from the breakup of the Yugoslav federation are drawing to a close, with the retrial of another ICTY case ongoing at the IRMCT.

Genocide comprises such acts as killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a group that are committed “with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” This definition of genocide was set out in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), the first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, and in article 6 of the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court in 1998. This definition was also incorporated in article 4 of the 2009 Updated ICTY Statute.

According to the chief prosecutor in the case, Serge Brammertz,

[t]he Appeals Chamber rejected appeals filed by the defence and upheld the key findings of the Trial Chamber. Mladic was found guilty for commanding violent ethnic cleansing campaigns across Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. He was further convicted for commanding a campaign of crimes against the civilian population during the Siege of Sarajevo. He was also convicted for using the forces under his command to commit genocide against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica. Finally, he was convicted for taking UN peacekeepers hostage and using them as human shields.

The IRMCT and the ICTY

 The IRMCT was established in 2010 by UN Security Council Resolution 1966 to complete the remaining work of two specialized criminal tribunals, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the ICTY. The ICTY was established in 1993, and its mandate expired at the end of 2017 after it had indicted 161 individuals for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.

While the final judgment in the Mladic case marks an important milestone for the IRMCT, its work is ongoing, as it recently heard closing arguments in the retrial of the case against Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, who were acquitted by the ICTY Trial Chamber in 2013. Furthermore, several cases are also ongoing against individuals charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda in 1994, including Félicien Kabuga, who was arrested in May 2020 in Paris.

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Boomer, Elizabeth. International: Genocide Conviction Against Ratko Mladic Upheld. 2021. Web Page.

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Boomer, E. (2021) International: Genocide Conviction Against Ratko Mladic Upheld. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

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Boomer, Elizabeth. International: Genocide Conviction Against Ratko Mladic Upheld. 2021. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.