I will never abandon you.

Introduction to the srebrenica case

At the beginning of the 1990s war broke out in former Yugoslavia. The humanitarian situation in Eastern Bosnia, in particular around the city of Srebrenica, was absolutely catastrophic.

‘I Will Never Abandon You.’
In March 1993, Force Commander General Morillon of UNPROFOR gave the people of the city of Srebrenica the following pledge: “Vous êtes maintenant sous la protection de l’Onu… Je ne vous abandonnerai jamais.” (translation: ‘You are now under the protection of the UN ... I will never abandon you.’)

To fulfil this pledge to protect the area around the enclave of Srebrenica and the people living in it, the UN passed several resolutions. For the implementation of those resolutions the United Nations requested the Netherlands to send military forces for the protection of what was termed the Safe Area. In response the Dutch cabinet provided an Airborne Battalion (Dutchbat) for that mission in 1994-1995.

Fall of the Enclave
Following the surrender by Dutchbat of a number of observation posts, the attack on the enclave of Srebrenica by Bosnian-Serbian forces (VRS) began early July 1995. The VRS took the enclave on 11 July 1995. The tragic nadir of the fall of the enclave was the subsequent mass murder by the VRS of approximately 8,000 predominantly Muslim men. That constituted the first act of genocide in Europe since the Second World War. Apparently, the Dutch battalion that was present in the enclave was under the UN mandate unable to hold the enclave nor to protect from the VRS the tens of thousands of refugees present in and around the compound of Dutchbat III.

Mothers of Srebrenica
Since then a group of some 6,000 surviving relatives of the victims of the fall of the enclave of Srebrenica has formed itself. This group are also known as ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’. These surviving relatives hold the State of the Netherlands and the United Nations jointly responsible for the fall of the enclave and therefore liable for the death of their family members and the consequent loss suffered. Law firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef has been asked to commence legal proceedings in the Netherlands on behalf of the 6,000 surviving relatives against the State of the Netherlands and the United Nations.

A team of 14 lawyers from the Netherlands and Bosnia-Herzegovina have worked on this case, supported by a group of advisors. This international team is led by the lawyers Marco R. Gerritsen and Axel Hagedorn.

Public Interest
In this unique case, it is of vital importance to Van Diepen Van der Kroef Advocaten that the general public is informed of the facts, so as to instil a correct understanding of history. We are furthermore of the opinion that it is in the interest of society to maintain public awareness of this case. For these reasons and as an exception, important documents in the proceedings are published here.

The Srebrenica case in the media

Newspapers / news organizations

Videos