Budimir Ivanišević - Serbia

"The HLC is systematically fighting for justice, which is of crucial importance since there is an obvious lack of political will in the ex-Yugoslav states to sincerely deal with this issue."

Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Centre

About the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC):

The HLC was established in 1992, at the outset of war in the former Yugoslavia. During the wars of the 1990s, the HLC focused its work on documenting and reporting war crimes and human rights violations. This wealth of documentation has been expanded and used for multiple activities, providing the backbone of the organisation’s work ever since. The HLC conducted a far-reaching transformation of its programmes and structure in 2004, in order to address the shifting needs of post-Yugoslav societies, introducing the concept of dealing with the past and transitional justice strategies in the region, and refocusing the use of documentation to support an array of judicial and non-judicial processes for dealing with the past. Another shift is approaching, with the HLC developing into an open and widely accessible documentation center on the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Namely, in early 2018, the HLC will launch a campaign with the aim to establish a Documentation and Memory Center, which will preserve and open its Archive and enable the implementation of new educational programmes on judicially established facts about the crimes in former Yugoslavia, exhibitions, performances, art installations, debates, public testimonies of victims, and movie projections, as well as independent exploration of the rich documentation available in a specialized and technologically equipped research section.



The HLC supports post-Yugoslav societies in the promotion of the rule of law and acceptance of the legacy of mass human rights violations, and therefore in establishing the criminal responsibility of perpetrators, serving justice, and preventing recurrence.

The Transitional Justice programme HLC implements within the following programme units:

1. Documentation

2. Justice and Institutional Reform

3. Education

4. Initiative for RECOM

5. Memorialisation

6. Outreach


There are different modalities through which the HLC is advocating for justice:

1. Researching, identifying and collecting evidence against unpunished individual perpetrators of war crimes,

2. Submitting criminal complaints against individuals about whom sufficient evidence of responsibility for war crimes and other crimes against international law during the 1990s is available,

3. Publishing dossiers, which document war crimes and reveal the responsibility of selected police/military/paramilitary units and individuals for war crimes, other crimes against international law and/or mass human rights abuses,

4. Legal representation of victims in war crimes and reparation trials,

5. Filing applications to the European Court for Human Rights and to different UN Committees for the state’s failure to conduct effective investigations in cases of violations of the right to life and torture, or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment,

6. Monitoring and informing on war crimes trials in Serbia.


The HLC strongly appeals to the ICC to remain devoted to the fight against impunity, as this is one of the basic conditions for long‐term peace, stability and development in post‐conflict societies.

The justice system in Serbia with regard to achieving justice in relation to the ex-Yugoslav wars of the 1990s is extremely inefficient. There is still no single verdict against high-ranking members of the Serbian police and/or army units. At the same time, the legislation regarding the rights of civilian victims of war is very rigid and discriminative.

The HLC is leading the regional network of CSOs advocating for establishment of the Regional Commission for the establishment of facts about war crimes and other serious violations of human rights committed in the former Yugoslavia between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2001. The HLC is also collaborating with its partner organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo with regard to legal representation of victims in war crimes and reparation cases before the courts in Serbia.

"With the political elites displaying ignorance of the recent past in the Balkans, the persistance of the civil society remains the last hope for achieving justice"