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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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Frames of a just war: the media and political discourse in Kosovo during the Haradinaj trials

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Introduction

The Kosovo conflict—encompassing the civil struggle between Kosovo Albanians and the Serbian regime during the 1990s and NATO’s military intervention in 1999—has gained attention in numerous studies and media representations. This chapter uses a specific trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as an entry point to read the framing of the Kosovo conflict and trace its eventual shifts over time. The focus is on the trials of Ramush Haradinaj—a former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander and Prime Minister of Kosovo—who, in concert with two of his fellow KLA combatants, was indicted by the ICTY for war crimes. The legal proceedings took seven years, from 2005 to 2012, resulting in acquittal.

The chapter is divided into three parts. The first part discusses the roots of the Kosovo conflict, the political context of the post-war international administration, and the ICTY indictment of Ramush Haradinaj et al. It also examines the dominant narrative among the Kosovo Albanians on the Kosovo conflict. Public statements and media reports on the trials of KLA commanders are regarded as a window on war narratives and containers of explanatory power. The second part focuses on the frames of war by analyzing political discourses and media reports. The purpose is to examine the language and representations of the Kosovo conflict, in general, and the trial, in particular. Third, it explores the effects of the trials in politics and culture in Kosovo. It shows...

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