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International Criminal Tribunals as Actors of Domestic Change

The Impact on Media Coverage, Volume 1


Edited By Klaus Bachmann, Irena Ristić and Gerhard Kemp

Do International Criminal Tribunals trigger social change, provide reconciliation, stabilize fragile post-conflict societies? Many authors claim they do, but they base their assumptions mainly on theoretical considerations and opinion polls. The editors and authors of this book take a different position: based on extensive field research in nine European and African countries, they examine whether tribunal decisions resulted in changes in media frames about the conflicts which gave rise to the creation of these tribunals. International Tribunals hardly ever shape or change the grand narratives about wars and other conflicts, but they often manage to trigger small changes in media frames which, in some cases, even lead to public reflexion about guilt and responsibility and more awareness for (the respective enemy’s) victims. On an empirical basis, this book shows the potential of International Criminal Justice, the possibilities, but also the limits of International Criminal Tribunals. Volume 1 presents the evidence from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and Croatia.

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The Invisible Hand of the ICTY: Narratives on Dubrovnik in Montenegro



Montenegro was the smallest federal unit of the former Yugoslavia,2 situated south from Serbia, with a short Adriatic coastline east from Croatia. In the course of Yugoslav crisis and dissolution, its political leadership followed the line of the Milošević regime in Belgrade,3 thus it was perceived as a “satellite” of Serbia.4 When the Yugoslav dissolution became fait accompli, Serbia and Montenegro formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in April 1992. The common state was restructured into the “State Union of Serbia and Montenegro” in 2003, until Montenegro opted for independence in 2006. Some Montenegrin citizens were conscripted into the various pro-Serb military units fighting in the Yugoslav wars (1991–1995), and others participated voluntarily. When evaluating the role of Montenegro in the Yugoslav wars, one event is specifically related to the question of Montenegro’s responsibility in the Croatian war – the attack on the coastal medieval town of Dubrovnik by the Yugoslav People’s Army [Jugoslovenska narodna armija – JNA] from the territory of Montenegro in the autumn of 1991. The attack was supported by the Montenegrin Territorial Defence forces5 and special police units. In this chapter, I will analyze how the ←57 | 58→Dubrovnik operation has been narrated in the Montenegrin media before and after the only ICTY case that dealt with this event – the trial of General Pavle Strugar, the commander of the JNA forces that conducted the military campaign against the Dubrovnik region.

The Dubrovnik operation

After constitutional changes towards...

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