Head Chair: Irene Ezran

Topic Guide: International Court of Justice (ICJ)


Topic 1: Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro (Bosnian Genocide Case)ICJ

After the end of the Holocaust, Europe and the rest of the world swore to never let another genocide happen again. However, since 1945, there have been dozens of mass murders in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan, and many other countries.


The Bosnian Genocide was the ethnic cleansing of Muslims by the Bosnian Serb Army during the Bosnian War, from 1992 to 1995. While Muslims represented a majority of the Bosnian population, many Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats immigrated to Bosnia, which set the scene for ethnic and religious conflict. After the communist Yugoslavia was dismantled in the early 1990s, Serbian separatists wanted to create a “Greater Serbia”. However, when the United States and the European Community recognized Bosnia as an independent nation, Bosnian Serbs bombarded Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. While the government of Bosnia tried to prevent further killings, by 1993, Bosnian Serbs and Croats controlled a majority of the country. The Srebrenica Massacre was the most tragic event in the genocide, in which 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed and thousands of women and girls were sent in buses to Bosnian territory. This brutal killing was described by the Secretary General of the United Nations as the worst crime in Europe since the Second World War. In addition, Richard Holbrooke, then the US Assistant Secretary of State, declared that Bosnia was “the greatest failure of the West since the 1930s”, as the United Nations stood by the massacre without taking action.


In the 1990s, the United Nations General Assembly declared that ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims was genocide. However, in 2013, the president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic, formally apologized for the massacre, but he did not recognize it was a genocide. Is Serbia legally responsible for the Bosnian genocide in the eyes of the world?


Topic 2: Nicaragua v. the United States (Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua)ICJ 2

During the 45-year Cold War between the Western and Eastern Blocs, the Soviet Union and the United States fought indirectly on several fronts known as proxy-wars, one of which was the Nicaraguan Revolution. In 1979, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) violently ousted the Somoza dictatorship and came into power, while the rebel group Contrarrevolucion, also known as the Contras, opposed the Sandinista government. While the Sandinistas received economic and military aid from the Soviet Union, the US strongly supported the Contras, even though this group was loyal to the previous dictatorship. This resulted in the Contra War, in which the FSLN gained increasing power and used force against Nicaraguan groups that sought self-determination. The Contras, who were heavily backed by the CIA, launched a major offensive, and, in 1990, the FSLN handed over power to Violeta Chamorro, who brought peace to the country.


Was it justifiable for the US to intervene in Nicaragua? Could the US deploy forces in Nicaragua on the basis of collective self-defense? Did the US breach its international law obligation to not violate the sovereignty of another state?


For questions or concerns regarding the committee, topics, or the position paper, Irene can be contacted at dmunc.icj@davismun.org.