Olivera Simic


This article explores the role of the local non-governmental association ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ in the complex transitional justice processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The association gathers women who survived the Srebrenica genocide in July 1995 and creates an important public space for the crying out of their grievances and lobbing for their goals. The ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ also create a space for widows and displaced women to share their concerns and support each other. While the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ use the rhetoric of victimhood and motherhood whenever they speak out, I argue that they, in fact, challenge the notion of passive victims by the actions they have tirelessly undertaken over the last 13 years. With their resilience and activities, the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ have become known worldwide. Their existence and actions have generated a mixture of feelings: respect, regret and shame among not only those accountable for the crimes in Srebrenica, but also the wider international community. Yet, although ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ use a variety of approaches to address past atrocities, it appears that their emphasis is on punitive justice which, they believe, is the only means to bring the peace that they have long yearned to their souls.

Author Biography

Olivera Simic has an LLM in International Human Rights Law (Essex University, UK) and MA in Gender and Peacebuilding (UN University for Peace, Costa Rica). She is currently at the Law School, University of Melbourne, researching for a PhD thesis entitled ‘Is the zero tolerance approach to sex between UN peacekeeping personnel and local people in the context of UN peacekeeping operations the best way to prevent “sexual exploitation” in the future?’