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Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada

BOOK: Research of Genocide Victims with a Special Emphasis on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: November 6, 2009  


Every country whose territory is the site of a war, and particularly one which falls victim to an act of aggression, as was the case with the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has the first-degree state interest and obligation to investigate and determine the roots, reasons, aims, spread, duration, scope and intensity of all forms of crimes against humanity and international law, i.e. the overall human victims and material destruction. Starting from this point, and having in mind the United Nations’ “raison d’être”, with the proclamation of “never again” repeated on multiple occasions after the Holocaust and the genocide in World War II, this obligation is of ever larger significance for a country where genocide was committed.

During and following genocides and other forms of crimes against humanity and international law committed after the Holocaust, whose victims have by and large been civilians, various forms of manipulation are carried out in relation to the character of conflict and the character of crimes, which, among other issues, also implies the problem of status and total number of victims. This phenomenon is accompanied by genocide denial, which most genocide scholars confirm to be the final stage of genocide. Therefore, we are not amazed by the hypocrisy of certain political subjects that deny, lessen, relativize and minimize genocide, while intending to – amongst other things – make a scientifically founded approach to research and the acquisition of scientific truths about the qualitative and quantitative markers of genocide impossible.

To research into the human victims and material losses, particularly crimes against persons and buildings protected by international humanitarian law, from the perspective of science theory and a methodological paradigm, and in accordance with the basic rules and demands of logical, scientific thought, is an extremely complex, difficult, longterm task. This complexity is particularly obvious in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of the 20th century, where the aggressors and their collaborationists have both during the aggression and after the signing of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dayton Peace Accord, November 1-21, 1995), denied genocide and have undertaken various activities to completely coneceal, relativize, minimize and falsify the truth on their crimes. Research so far has, apart from various scientifically founded works on the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, mostly been reduced to the discovery, identification and documentation of excess death victims.

Unfortunately, some research and their results have contributed to the marginalization of victims of genocide and to an inappropriate tradein their number and status, opening up various speculations. From these reasons stem both the academic and the humane need for determining, identifying, forming, and defining objective criteria for scientific knowledge, and the establishment of a scientific truth on the victims, as part of the overall human and social knowledge, as well as human and social experience.

This work is based on two postulates:

  • First, the research of victims of genocide and other forms of crimes against humanity is a complex, sensitive and responsible task of research, which determines and demands knowledge of the essence of the problem and of the subject of research, of the nature of research as well as the conscience and responsibility of all actors in the research;
  • Second, only a valid, reliable, applicable project of scientific research can lead to objective and truthful results on these crimes, to be used as a theoretic and methodological basis for empirical research in science.

The meaning and content of the mentioned postulates has been illustrated through essential questions of scientific theory, theoretic and methodical methodology of empiric research, as well as through a critical scientific analysis of the non-scientific findings recorded on victims of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I am taking this opportunity to extend my particular gratitude to a variety of colleagues Yehonatan Alsheh and Mr. Muhamed Mesic, for their support in compiling the most important scientific theory works in the research of the Holocaust, genocide and other forms of crimes against humanity and international law, as well as for assistance in translating relevant sources and reference materials, in whole or in part, into the Bosnian language.

I also most sincerely thank my reviewers for their constructive suggestions and significant ideas.


Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada