E.g. what were the consequences for Serbia, if they were sentenced for genocide in the Balkan war? Where there just consequences for the leaders and compensations for the affected people or were there economic sanctions, too? If so, how long would they last?
And what are the consequences, if the genocide was accomplished (they can't pay anything to people, who don't exist anymore)?

  • 3
    What does “sentenced” mean in this context?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 1:09
  • Sentenced by the international court of justice. In this case by the international court of justice in Den Haag. Serbia wasn't sentenced but I wonder what had happened, if they were.
    – Nikolar
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 11:54
  • 1
    This was a very strange case to begin with. What could happen is some embarrassment for one or the other country but not much beyond that. But you should add a reference to the case in the question and I would delete my answer because it does not address the ICJ.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 12:06
  • There is no 'sentence' for genocide for the whole country. The only actual case was Germany that was divided and occupied, but it was primarily because of loosing the war, and not commiting genocide. The genocide during the Balkan war can't be compared with Holocaust, Medz Jeghern or Holodomor, which were targeted at completely eradicating the whole group of people. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 8:26

1 Answer 1


The passive voice does a lot of work in your question: Who could do the sentencing, on what basis and following what procedure? Without specifying that, it's not clear what being sentenced even means.

Concretely, reports, official condemnation by individual states, international organizations or bodies like the UN Human Rights Council or the UN Human Rights Committee have no direct legal consequences. The General Assembly and the Security Council also pass many resolutions that amount to very little beyond some vague statements of principle.

But some security council decisions do have serious consequences in that they invite countries to enact sanctions or create peace-keeping missions. Usually, those are not punitive in nature but aim at solving an issue, for example by putting pressure on a government so that it acts in a certain way. But what does happen or not owes a lot to politics so it does not make sense to get too worked up on the principles, whether there would be sanctions, how long they might last, etc. as it's always decided on an ad hoc basis depending on what the members can agree on.

Should it happen today, the only thing that could be construed as a legal finding that a genocide did take place would be a ruling of the International Criminal Court. It does have real and serious consequences (e.g. jail terms) but only targets individuals, not countries. That's also the case for the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that preceded it, which did find two individuals guilty of genocide in Bosnia: Vujadin Popović and Ljubiša Beara.

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