The Observer view on the effectiveness of international law | Observer editorial

World justice is failing the innocent when tyrants kill with impunityThe recent conviction of Ratko Mladić, the former Bosnian Serb commander, on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the 1990s may come to be viewed as a high-point for global justice. Mladić’s life sentence for his leading role in ethnic cleansing operations in Bosnia, the battle for Sarajevo, and the massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica was fully deserved. But this symbolic success cannot hide the fact that the international criminal justice system is under siege from within and without. In 2017, its problems grew worse.

Mladić’s conviction followed the successful prosecution of another high-profile figure, the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadžić, in addition to nearly 160 other criminal indictees. All this is the work of the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), created by the UN security council in 1993.

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