International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Expert Witness to Speak at PLNU

Monday, November 11, 2013

PLNU’s Department of History and Political Science welcomes Robert Donia Ph.D. on Tuesday, November 12th, at 3:30pm, in Colt Forum, as he discusses the current crisis facing human rights enforcement. 

An historian specializing in Southeastern Europe and human rights, Donia has been called to testify as an historical expert witness in fifteen war crimes trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) the United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s. Specifically, Donia has testified at the trials of former Yugoslav President Milošević and, in August of this year, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, General Ratko Mladić.  

During Tuesday’s event, which is free and open to the public, Donia will make the case for relying less on international judicial redress while increasing legislative and executive actions to deter human rights abuses and intervene swiftly to end them when the occur. “The international human rights movement is facing a crisis of enforcement, a crisis brought on by the collapse of the key enforcement mechanisms that proponents of human rights have relied upon since the Second World War” says Donia.”

Donia’s lecture, “Confronting the Crisis in Human Rights Enforcement” argues that several acquittals at the ad hoc UN tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda have shown international courts to be unreliable instruments of justice. According to Donia, “ambivalence and deadlock among the world’s leading powers have precluded an effective response to recent human rights abuses in the Middle East.” He encourages policy-makers and citizens alike to recognize the gravity of this crisis and explore alternative means of promoting human rights objectives around the globe.

After three years in the US Army in Germany, Korea, and Vietnam, Donia received a Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 1976. He has been visiting and studying Southeast Europe since the 1960s. He is the author or editor of five books, most recently Sarajevo: A Biography, a history of the city published in 2006 by the University of Michigan Press; and Excerpts from the Bosnian Serb Assembly, a collection of speeches by Bosnian Serbs published in 2012 and used in evidence at the ICTY. He has most recently been a Visiting Professor of History at the University of Michigan. A resident of San Diego, Donia lives in La Jolla with his wife, Jane.