Check out this week’s Get Educated, One Topic At A Time! This week learn about the history of the Bosnian War. Check out our past blog posts from this blog series, including: “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority”, “A Reform For The World”, “The Rural Challenge”, “Help Starts Young” and “A Voice For Women”.
Yugoslavia, once an economically thriving socialist state under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito, faced a steady decline from the early 1980s until it finally split into several different nations in the early 1990s.
Three of these nations, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, quickly found themselves embroiled in a bloody and brutal ethnic conflict. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an ethnically and religiously diverse place which consisted, at the time, of about 44% Bosniak Muslims, 31% Eastern Orthodox Serbs, and 17% Roman Catholic Croats. When Bosnia and Herzegovina tried to declare its official independence from Yugoslavia and establish itself as a single nation, the Presidents of Croatia and Serbia, Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević, respectively, were outraged, wishing to divide the land up between themselves based on dubious at best ethnic majority lines.
The Serbs and Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared their own independences, creating three ethnic states within the same borders: The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, and Republika Srpska. Tuđman and Milošević funneled weapons, troops, and money into the pockets of their newly established ethnic allies, giving them a substantial advantage over the militarily weak Bosniaks. The Croat and Serb militants made it their business to cleanse Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Bosniaks, often wiping out entire cities full of civilians and detaining thousands more in prison camps. The atrocities committed against women were particularly brutal, as they were forced to watch their husbands and sons be murdered, then they were sent to what the Serb soldiers themselves called “rape-camps”.
The United Nations Security Council worked tirelessly to put an end to this humanitarian disaster, but despite the constantly increasing efforts of NATO and the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to maintain the no-fly zone and defend the UN Protected Areas were civilian refugees could stay, the war only escalated until 1995. The results were tens of thousands dead and displaced, entire cities burned to the ground, and a formerly united country torn into pieces. It was not until the Washington-brokered Dayton agreement of 1995 that fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina finally came to an end.
The simulation that our delegates will be participating in puts them right in the middle of this conflict, representing the 1993 UN Security Council. As the fighting and ethnic cleansing approaches its peak, our delegates will have to join together in an attempt to end this war as it happens, with new events and crises being introduced as they go. Will they manage to pacify the fighters before the Bosniaks are wiped out, or will the war grow to an even more disastrous level? Their actions will determine the outcome of the war and shape the future of the region.
While the war itself ended in 1995, those that orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of the Bosniaks are still on trial today in the International Court of Justice, and you can continue to follow their stories.