This book contains the Final Report and Annexes (the latter is available online through Intersentia Publishing) of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 (1992). The Commission of Experts was the first international initiative to advance international criminal justice since the post-WWII experiences. The Cold War had brought a sharp stop to the international community's efforts to advance international criminal justice. As such, it was befitting for the Security Council to establish such a Commission of Experts, whose mandate was to investigate violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
The Commission of Experts’ investigation, which was originally intended to be something of a continuation of post-WWII prosecutions, was politically challenging because some of the European countries most directly involved at the time were focused on bringing about a political settlement. To them, pursuing peace and justice at the same time was simply impossible.
The United Kingdom's Lord Peter Carrington and then Lord David Owen, representing the European Union, were pursuing a political solution. They probably believed that negotiating with the heads of the warring factions of the time would not be possible if the factions’ leaders knew they were being investigated by a UN commission – and were likely to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Perhaps those involved in the political settlement negotiations also contemplated offering some sort of immunity to the leaders, and maybe a few others, as a quid pro quo for agreeing to a political settlement. And that would not have been possible with a United Nations fact-finding body in place and functioning.
Whatever their reasons, those active in the political settlement field, particularly the negotiators from the United Kingdom, first fought the establishment of the Commission of Experts and then, used bureaucratic and financial means to thwart the Commission's work.
The Commission of Experts’ work was a long and arduous battle because of the political, financial and bureaucratic obstacles it faced, as well as the horrific nature of the alleged crimes. But it ended with invaluable, credible evidence, documenting atrocious crimes.