Memorialization and the Role of Reparative Justice in the Balkans

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

Please join us for panel discussion about the complexities and challenges of enacting reparative justice and memorialization initiatives in a region where ongoing battles over the historical interpretation of events remain a psychological continuation of these conflicts.

While the carnage wrought by armies and militias may have ended in the region more than twenty years ago, the wars over human rights, history, memory, and commemoration continue to be waged in the fragile socio-political terrain of the Balkans. These issues are, in many ways, painful reminders that the conflicts are still ongoing, having shifted from a physical war with guns to a political war over memories. While much emphasis has been placed on the role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as the primary transitional justice mechanism for the region, many of these criminal prosecutions have not lived up to victims’ expectations.

Reparative justice, on the other hand, is community-oriented and seeks to repair post-conflict damage through other non-judicial forms, including truth-telling commissions, symbolic and monetary reparations, restitution, and memorialization (including memorials, commemorations, and monuments), among others. 


Marijana Toma, former Deputy Director of the Humanitarian Law Centre, Belgrade

Velma Šarić, Executive Director of Post Conflict Research Center, Sarajevo

Laura B. Cohen, Ph.D candidate, Rutgers University, the study of Memorialization of Srebrenica

David Pettigrew, Southern Connecticut State University, Ethical Responses to Genocide

Tanya Domi, Harriman Institute, Moderator

Marijana Toma is Deputy Executive Director at the Humanitarian Law Center, where she works on documenting war crimes, oral history, forced disappearances and transitional justice. She served as the Coordinator of the task force for drafting the mandate for the Regional Commission for establishing facts about war crimes and other violations of human rights in Yugoslavia (RECOM). Prior to this, Toma was a Serbia Programme Coordinator at Impunity Watch, where she worked on the promotion of accountability for atrocities in countries emerging from a violent past, and as part of the International Organisation for Migration Mission in Serbia she worked on the issue of legal migration. Toma is currently a fellow with the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability program at Columbia’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

Velma Šarić is the Founder and President of the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC), Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Diskurs, and Project Manager for the War Art Reporting and Memory Foundation (WARM). Ms. Šarić is a researcher, journalist, peacebuilding practitioner and human rights defender from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has extensive academic and professional experience in the fields of sociology, genocide studies and international law and war crimes.


Laura B. Cohen is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Division of Global Affairs and a graduate assistant at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights (CGHR) at Rutgers University. Ms. Cohen’s research focuses on the intersection of transitional justice, memorialization, and collective memory at memorials erected at sites of atrocity in post-conflict societies. Her forthcoming dissertation builds upon the extensive fieldwork she has conducted across Bosnia and Herzegovina and at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center, in particular, since 2010.

David Pettigrew, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy and Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Southern Connecticut State University. Professor Pettigrew lectures and writes about the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the past year, for example, he delivered invited lectures in Chicago, Prague, Sarajevo, and Stockholm, and his authored essay, "The Suppression of Cultural Memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Prohibited Memorials and the Continuation of the Genocide," appeared in English and in Bosnian. Professor Pettigrew is a member of the Steering Committee of the Yale University Genocide Studies Program.

Tanya Domi is a Columbia University adjunct professor of international and public affairs and a faculty affiliate of the Harriman Institute.