John Laughland

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There seemed to be no immediate consequences when, in 1908, Austria annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. Vienna was in clear violation of the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, which it had signed and kept Bosnia in Turkey, yet the protests of Russia and Serbia were in vain. The following year, the fait accompli was written into an amended treaty. Six years later, however, a Russian-backed Serbian gunman exacted revenge by assassinating the heir to the Austrian throne in Sarajevo in June 1914. The rest is history.

Parallels between Kosovo in 2008 and Bosnia in 1908 are relevant, but not only because, whatever legal trickery the west uses to override UN security council resolution 1244 - which kept Kosovo in Serbia - the proclamation of the new state will have incalculable long-term consequences: on secessionist movements from Belgium to the Black Sea via Bosnia, on relations with China and Russia, and on the international system as a whole.…  Seguir leyendo »

Whenever a head of state or government faces trial these days, human rights activists say the event is unprecedented. Slobodan Milosevic's trial was "ground-breaking"; the conviction of Jean Kambanda of Rwanda was "historic"; the trial of Charles Taylor of Liberia was "a break with the past". No surprise, therefore, that Human Rights Watch welcomed Alberto Fujimori's extradition from Chile to his native Peru, where he will stand trial next month, saying it was "the first time that a court has ordered the extradition of a former head of state to be tried for gross human rights violations in his home country".…  Seguir leyendo »