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An anthropological study of war crimes against children in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s

An anthropological study of war crimes against children in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s
Julie Ann Roberts

2011

College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UNITED KINGDOM.

ABSTRACT

Between 1991 and 1999 war broke out across Former Yugoslavia. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and many more were internally displaced or forcibly expelled from their countries. In 1993 the United Nations established the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to investigate war crimes allegedly committed in the region. Its work is still ongoing.

This research comprises an anthropological study of the children in Kosovo and Bosnia- Herzegovina who were killed as a direct result of war crimes perpetrated during the conflicts of the 1990s. It is based on primary forensic data collected by investigators and scientists on behalf of ICTY between the dates of 1996 and 2000. From this data, a single integrated database was created which allowed the numbers of child deaths, causes of death, demographic profiles of the deceased, and post-mortem treatment of their remains to be analysed. As well as examining these factors within each country a significant aspect of the research included comparative analysis between the crimes committed against children in Kosovo and those in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Broad comparisons were also made between adult and child data in both countries. The findings from the research were analysed within their wider socio-political context and an assessment was made of how closely the forensic evidence supported accounts from other literary sources.

In its current form, the research can be used as a historical and scientific resource by those wishing to study both the events surrounding the wars in Kosovo and Bosnia- Herzegovina, and the scientific methods used by experts in the field to investigate the crimes. The methodology employed during the research, including the creation of the database, is described in detail and is directly transferrable to other studies of a similar nature. Solutions employed to address the considerable problems encountered during the construction of the database can be applied to other similarly large and unmanageable datasets. The database itself can be expanded to include the forensic evidence collected in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo since 2001, when ICTY handed over responsibility for the exhumations to local government agencies. It can also be used to examine other aspects of the wars, and adapted to analyse data from other countries. Ultimately it is hoped that this research will be of use in formulating pro-active strategies which might assist in protecting children involved in future conflicts.