On the evening of 16 February in the Speaker’s Corner, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia premiered its outreach documentary series with a viewing of “Dubrovink and Crimes against Cultural Heritage”. This was followed by a panel discussion on the Tribunal’s legacy by renowned experts, including The Hague University’s own Dr Marina Lostal.
By Alexandrea Wagenaar
Guests were warmly welcomed at the doors with complimentary ICTY merchandise. Introductory remarks were presented by the Tribunal’s current and final president, Judge Carmel Agius, who spoke about its significant role in establishing accountability for the destruction of cultural heritage property and raising awareness.
The documentary itself was highly informative and provided a wealth of information on the historical, cultural and legal aspects of the destruction of cultural heritage property during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. It showcased courtroom footage such as testimonies from expert witnesses and judicial decisions; interviews with journalists, experts and prominent Tribunal staff; actual recordings of the relevant destruction taking place, and more.
Among the audience were Tribunal staff, university alumni, and legal academics, as well as law students. The panel was comprised of Dr Lostal, representing the legal scholarship’s perspective; Ms Quaedvlieg, Secretary-General of Europa Nostra, a European federation of NGOs involved in cultural and natural heritage property; and Ms Baig, a Senior Appeals Counsel in Office of the Prosecutor of the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, and former ICTY prosecutor. The diversity of the panel resulted in a fascinating discussion, after which the audience was invited to pose any of their questions, some of which were answered by the moderator, Mr Petar Finci, who was responsible for the ICTY Outreach Programme’s documentary production.
Dr Lostal shared a few key points on cultural heritage property regarding the Tribunal’s legacy, notably its contribution that cultural property shall be protected regardless of whether it is officially on the list of World Heritage sites, and whether it is an international or non-international armed conflict. She also compared the Tribunal’s perspective on protecting cultural heritage to that of the International Criminal Court.
Ms Baig spoke of the legal lessons which may be derived from the Tribunal’s standard of protection for cultural heritage property, including the fact that one should always consider whether cultural property destruction can serve as evidence of mens rea to help establish criminal responsibility and support allegations of other crimes against humanity or war crimes. Ms Quaedvlieg discussed the importance of “rebuilding bridges” and ensuring remembrance of such tragedies through establishing the truth, as the ICTY has strived to do.
The event was followed by a borrel (reception with drinks and snacks), where there was an opportunity to converse and network. Overall, the premiere was a highly successful and educational event.