A look behind the scenes of the Yugoslavia tribunal:“The ICTY has written history here in The Hague”

Art & design Collaboration Innovating justice Peace

Yesterday afternoon, a one-of-a-kind photo exhibition was opened by The Hague Deputy Mayor Saskia Bruines at City Hall. As international city of peace and justice, the Yugoslavia tribunal figures prominently on the city’s track record as forward-thinking pioneer in advancing international criminal justice. The exhibition can only be seen until Friday, so hurry over to have an exclusive look behind the scenes of the institution that has written history.

In the 1990s, the Yugoslavia tribunal was created to prosecute war criminals while the war in Yugoslavia was ongoing. The tribunal was a unique institution, the first criminal court to be established after Nuremberg and Tokyo, a pioneer for the many tribunals that were established in The Hague after its inception. The exhibition, titled Yugoslavia behind the dunes: A look behind the scenes of the Yugoslavia tribunal, provides a unique glimpse into the world of international criminal law and the Yugoslavia tribunal that closed its doors on December 31st 2017.

Journalist Jorie Horsthuis and photographer Martino Lombezzi were given an exclusive look behind the scenes over the period of a year. They focused their work on the employees who were essential to the organization but remained largely unseen. They met with translators, witness experts, archive employees, security officers, researchers, and video technicians. As a result, their work provides the public with a unique glimpse into the fascinating world of international criminal law.

A milestone in international justice

“Twenty-four years ago, this international tribunal was set up in The Hague. The ICTY has convicted 161 people,” Deputy Mayor Saskia Bruines introduced the exhibition. “The ICTY has written history here in The Hague. It has pronounced judgment and has given the victims something that has been taken from them, a voice.”

“This exhibition tells us the untold story of the employees behind the scenes of the tribunal and residents of The Hague who come from the former Yugoslavia. These people have been given a face and an opportunity to share their unique stories,” she added.

“The establishment of the tribunal in 1993 was a milestone in international justice, in addressing impunity, and in the development of The Hague as a center of international criminal law” – Deputy Mayor Saskia Bruines

Untold stories

Photographer Martino Lombezzi explained, “In the beginning of 2017, we thought it would be interesting to document the final year of existence of the ICTY. We wanted to collect, with images and interviews, the stories of the ones who worked inside the institution and through their words get a sense of their unique experience.”

“We were there at 7AM in the morning, when security officers raised the UN flag in the small garden outside the building. And we didn’t leave until the late afternoon when the last rays of light landed on the terrace,” he described the experience.

Revealing the details

“The challenge for me as a photographer was to find interiors and details that could reveal something of the special nature of this institution,” he explained. “And to portrait all the different people we met, trying to condense in one image something about their role, their working environment, and their character.”

Journalist Jorie Horsthuis added, “We got the chance to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the Yugoslavia tribunal. We really hope you’ll enjoy this exhibition and, by looking at it, get a glimpse of the unique world of international criminal justice.”

Interested? From 19-23 February, the exhibition Yugoslavia behind the dunes: A look behind the scenes of the Yugoslavia tribunal can be seen in the Atrium Den Haag.