The EU accession and transitional criminal justice in Serbia and Croatia
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The international mechanisms to pursue the legal accountability of the past atrocities evolved from the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials to the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). As a result of such development, the post-Cold War international tribunals appear to hold particular characteristics; they impose a legal obligation for states under their jurisdiction to cooperate and they are dependant on such state cooperation to fulfil its legal mandate. To secure such cooperation, third party coercion appears to be effective as a determining factor of the state’s behaviour in the face of legal obligation. In this scope, former Yugoslavian states offer a significant example. In 1993, the United Nations (UN) established the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as an international court to prosecute those who were most responsible for the massive human rights violations committed during the bloody Balkan Wars in the1990s. In the due course of its operation, the political pressure from third party actors, most notably the EU, played a vital role to yield a significant outcome of the tribunal’s mandate. This study is to address such impact of the EU accession conditionality on the politics of Transitional Criminal Justice in post-conflict Croatia and Serbia. For this purpose, the author conducted the comparative analysis of those two cases with a scope of the Most Similar System Design (MSSD). She combined several qualitative methods, such as content analysis, secondary analysis and interviews with experts, to trace the evidence showing the changes that occurred before and after the EU’s imposing its political pressure. The outcome of this study showed that the EU accession conditionality could facilitate positive and stable development in the overall cooperation with the tribunal, while such external pressure had a counterproductive effect at the level of domestic war crime prosecution. Therefore, the findings of this study contain a warning that partial involvement of a third party in the area of Transitional Justice could result in an undesirable outcome.