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International Criminal Tribunals as Actors of Domestic Change

The Impact on Media Coverage, Volume 1

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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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ICTY trials and media frames in Republika Srpska: Plavšić and Lukić & Lukić

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Introduction

This chapter focuses on the ICTY’s impact on media frames in the Republika Srpska, the Serb entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and therefore supplements with the first chapter of this volume which Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc dedicated to the influence of the ICTY on media frames in the Federation of BiH. Due to the immense caseload concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina and specifically Republika Srpska, it was impossible to cover all trials which could be relevant for the assessment of the ICTY’s impact on media frames. Instead, I concentrated on two cases: the prosecutor vs. Biljana Plavšić and the prosecutor vs. Milan and Sredoje Lukić. Both cases were chosen keeping in mind the overarching objective of the research project – shifts in media frames about the underlying conflict.

The Biljana Plavšić case was chosen because it involved one of the most influential wartime leaders of Bosnian Serbs. Due to the high position of Biljana Plavšić in the political establishment of wartime Republika Srpska and due to the characteristics of her case, media coverage was likely to be big enough to provide an abundance of media sources which would enable me to detect frame changes or even small shifts within the same frames. Biljana Plavšić can be considered as one of Republika Srpska’s founders. Her indictment and arrest led to a plea agreement with the prosecution and a confession of guilt which was withdrawn after the (relatively lenient) verdict against her. Hardly any...

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