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Abstract

When the country of Yugoslavia disintegrated into war, the United Nations created a research commission, the Yugoslav Commission of Experts, to document war crimes. This commission, led by Cherif M. Bassiouni, depicted the conflict as a perpetual problem with historical roots and also as having victims on both sides, which presented a legal-definitional paradox to the Security Council, requiring litigation of principles, categorization of conflicts, and discussion of further involvement - if applicable. This paper traces the essentialist understandings of the Commission of Experts and the International Human Rights Law Institute – two groups that otherwise had good intentions to bring about peace and justice in the former Yugoslavia, but presented contradictory evidence and descriptions of the conflict. This essentialist portrayal stalled the UN Security Council, stalling adequate aid for the first half of the 1990s.

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