This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
June 15th, 2008
Accountability for Human Rights Violations

For a decade, Slobodan Miloseviç and his Serbian regime oversaw a reign of terror in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. Miloseviç’s orders led to the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of civilians from their homes; rampant massacres and executions; abuse and starvation; and the systematic rape of countless women. Miloseviç targeted non-Serbs with the intention of establishing a Serbian majority in these territories. The international community eventually stopped him before he was able to achieve his vision.

Using Miloseviç’s brutal nationalism and the implementation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as a case study, students will consider the question of whether those who commit massive violations of human rights should be held accountable in international courts of law. Are such courts effective in bringing international criminals to justice? Students will examine these two perspectives:

  • International courts of law should be used for holding individuals and groups accountable for large-scale atrocities and human rights violations committed against civilians.
  • International courts of law should not be used for holding individuals and groups accountable for large-scale atrocities and human rights violations committed against civilians.

With the Academic Controversy model, students will develop skills in: creating and presenting arguments; researching; collaboration and communication; conflict resolution and consensus-building. Students will be evaluated on participation, use of student organizers, and a culminating project, which will demonstrate their understanding of the content and their mastery of the Academic Controversy process.

Grade Level: 9-12

Time Allotment

Longer Version: This lesson can span from one to two weeks. Ideally, two to three days of introduction to Academic Controversy, student research, and position-development should be allowed; one to two days for engaging in the Academic Controversy itself (presentation of positions, open discussion, reversal of positions); and two days for the synthesis of the positions and the preparation of a joint report. If the teacher chooses to extend the lesson by assigning additional case studies to individual students or small groups of students, the lesson could last for a couple of weeks.

Compressed Version: This lesson could also be completed in two to three days. This would include one day for introduction to Academic Controversy, student research, and position-development (with one-two homework assignments to supplement class time); one day for the structured controversy; and one day for the synthesis of the positions and the preparation of a joint report.

Students Will

Investigate the rise of Serbian nationalism under Slobodan Miloseviç’s leadership, and understand its consequences.

Examine Miloseviç’s human rights violations, and consider whether the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is the best way to hold him accountable for his crimes.

Explore the consequences of an extreme nationalism that believes in the superiority of one ethnic group over others.

Consider the issue of international courts of law vs. national and local courts of law in criminal cases such as the one studied here.

Understand the following terms and concepts: genocide, refugees, nationalism, ethnic groups/ ethnic minority/ ethnic majority, massacre, ethnic cleansing, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, United Nations, International Criminal Court, human rights, crimes against humanity.

Develop research, presentation, writing and conflict resolution skills that can be applied to numerous other content areas and case studies.

Academic Standards:

Historical Understanding Standard 1

Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns. Benchmark: Understands historical continuity and change related to a particular development or theme.

World History Standard 44

Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world. Benchmarks: Understands the role of political ideology, religion, and ethnicity in shaping modern governments; Understands the role of ethnicity, cultural identity, and religious beliefs in shaping economic and political conflicts across the globe.

United States History Standard 30

Understands developments in foreign policy and domestic politics between the Nixon and Clinton presidencies. Benchmarks: Understands the influence of U.S. foreign policy on international events from Nixon to Clinton.

Civics Standard 22

Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy.

Benchmarks: Understands the significance of principal foreign policies and events in the United States’ relations with the world; Understands the purposes and functions of major governmental international organizations and major nongovernmental international organizations; Knows some important bilateral and multilateral agreements to which the United States is signatory.

Language Arts Standard 4

Gathers and uses information for research purposes. Benchmarks: Uses appropriate research methodology; Uses a variety of print and electronic sources to gather information for research topics; Synthesizes information from multiple research studies to draw conclusions that go beyond those found in any of the individual studies; Writes research papers.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2022 WNET.ORG Properties LLC. All rights reserved.