The highest court within the UN has ruled the acts of war committed by Croatia and Serbia against the other’s population in the 1990’s does not qualify as genocide.

The International Court of Justice says they recognize acts of rape, torture, and widespread killings had taken place between the two countries, but by the formal definition of genocide, no such act was carried out during the conflict.

According to the official report, genocide implies there is a laid out plan to systematically wipe out an entire population of peoples and to prevent any further births from occurring within the targeted population. While the acts of war carried out were brutal, the court claims there was no such plan on either side.

According to NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, the decision should come as no surprise since the “U.N. courts have never charged any Serbs or Croats with genocide in each other’s territory.”

“The Croatian government alleged that Serbia committed genocide in the town of Vukovar and elsewhere in 1991,” said Nelson. “Tens of thousands of ethnic Croats were displaced, and hundreds of Croat men were detained and killed. Serbia later filed a counterclaim over the expulsion of more than 200,000 Serbs from Croatia.”

Peter Tomka, the president of the International Court of Justice, said, according to Reuters“Croatia has not established that the only reasonable inference was the intent to destroy in whole or in part the (Croatian) group.”

Tomka went on to say the desire to expel ethnic groups from towns and cities does not constitute genocide since the intention is not to destroy the groups. This also led Tomka to say Serbia’s counterclaim of genocide did not met the definition either, and therefore denied the country’s claim. 

The foreign minister of Croatia, Vesna Pusic, said, according to the New York Times, she hoped this ruling would help bring a “better and safer period for people in this part of Europe.” Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic of Serbia echoed these hopes.

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