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Center for Balkan

Tel: 978-461-0909
Fax: 978-461-2552
[email protected]

Restoring a Multiethnic Bosnia

Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts
April 24-26, 1998

Selim Beslagic, mayor of Tuzla and a staunch defender of a multiethnic Bosnia, speaking at conference.
A national conference for the Bosnian-advocate community, policy makers, journalists, scholars, students, and others concerned with strengthening Bosnia as a nation and the promotion of democracy, multi-ethnic tolerance, long-term peace, and justice. Issues addressed will be the historical precedent for a multiethnic Bosnia, the reconstruction of Bosnia's political and social institutions, the need for justice following a genocidal war, the political climate in neighboring Serbia, US policy in the region, and the current instabilities in Kosovo. Workshops were held covering grassroots action, resettling refugees in the U.S., and the current student protests in Kosovo.

Sponsors: Friends of Bosnia and the Wellesley College Committee on Lectures and Cultural Events

Panel 1: Demystifying Bosnia's Multiethnic History
Rusmir Mahmutcehajic: (paper read by moderator) 1991-1992, Vice-President of the BiH Government. Since 1996, President, Editorial Council, Dialogue: Journal for Philosophy and Social Issues, Sarajevo
Michael Sells: Professor of Religion, Haverford College. Author of The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia
Tom Cushman: Professor of Sociology, Wellesley College, coeditor of This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia

Panel 2: U.S. & Western Policy in the Balkans
George Biddle: Vice President, International Crisis Group
Steve Walker: Director, The Balkan Institute; former U.S. State Department Croatian Desk Officer
Nina Bang-Jensen: Special Counsel and Advocacy Director, Coalition for International Justice

Panel 3: Current Political Dynamics in the former Yugoslavia and the aggression in Kosovo
Sonja Biserko: Chair, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
Ellen Elias-Bursac: Department of Slavic Languages and Literature, Harvard University (Speaking on Croatia)
Julie Mertus: Professor in Law and Religion, Emory University School of Law. Author of Open Wounds: Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo
Selim Beslagic: Mayor, Tuzla, BiH; President, United BH Social Democrats (UBSD)

Panel 4: Justice Compromised: The Status of War Crimes Prosecution
Sheila Berry: U.S. Department of State, Office of the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues
Senka Nozica: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Sarajevo
Fionnuala Ni Aolain: Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Michael Scharf: Professor, New England School of Law. Author of Balkan Justice: The Story Behind the First International Criminal Tribunal Since Nuremberg

Panel 5: initiatives for Reconciliation in the Balkans
Sara Kahn: Psychosocial Outreach Coordinator, Antemortem Database Project, Physicians for Human Rights, Tuzla
Max Marcus: Bosnia Researcher, Human Rights Watch, Sarajevo/New York
Landrum R. Bolling: Director-at-Large (Balkan Region), Mercy Corps International

Speaker Biographies

Nina Bang-Jensen
Nina Bang-Jensen is Special Counsel and Advocacy Director for the Coalition for International Justice, a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization created to provide support for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the form of technical legal assistance, advocacy, and public education. Prior to joining the Coalition, Ms. Bang-Jensen served for five years as Counsel to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT).

Sheila Berry
A Foreign Sevice Officer since 1985, Ms. Berry began a tour in the State Department's Office of United National Political Affairs in 1992, where she was instrumental in the creation of the Yugoslav Tribunal. In 1994, Ms. Berry was seconded by the State Department to the Tribunal, where she functioned as political adviser to Judge Richard Goldstone. From 1996 to 1997 Ms. Berry served in the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo, coordinating the international community's involvement in discovering the fate of persons missing as a result of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Ms. Berry returned to Washington in 1997 to serve as special assistant to Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer.

Sonja Biserko
Chair, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. Founding member of the Center for Anti-War Action (CAA), Belgrade. Organized the first international meeting on severe breaches of humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia. Awarded the prize for human rights work by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York. Foreign Service Officer, Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs, SFRY, 1974�1991. Resigned from the Ministry in 1991 at the time of the dismemberment of Yugoslavia in disagreement with the policies of the Rump Yugoslavia Government.

Selim Beslagic
Mayor of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina(BiH) and President of the United BiH Social Democratic Party, was chief organizer of the defense of the city of Tuzla when its citizens succeeded in turning back the Yugoslav Army in April 1992 after a ferocious battle that secured the Tuzla airfield, currently being used by U.S. peackeeeping forces in the region. The upset was the first Bosnian victory in the war. Beslagic is reknown for his anti-nationalist politics and has managed to retain a multiethnic character to the city of Tuzla, during and after the war.

George C. Biddle
Vice President of the International Crisis Group (ICG), a private, multinational organization committed to strengthening the capacity and resolve of the international community to anticipate, understand and prevent man-made crises.

Previously, Mr. Biddle was the founding President of the Washington-based Institute for Central American Studies (ICAS), a nonprofit organization established in 1989 to assist the isthmus in its progression from war to peace.

Mr. Biddle serves on the Board of Directors of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and is Chairman of the IRC�s Program Committee, and a member of its Executive Committee. Mr. Biddle also served on the Boards of Directors of Delphi International and the Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas, and on the Advisory Board of The Foundation for a Civil Society�s Project on Justice in Times of Transition.

Before founding ICAS, Mr. Biddle served as Assistant to the President at the Institute for East-West Security Studies in New York.

Landrum R. Bolling
Director-at-Large (Balkan Region), Mercy Corps International. Dr. Bolling is Senior Advisor and Board Member of the Conflict Management Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a nonprofit consulting firm that originated from the Harvard University Program in Negotiation. He is also Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC. Dr. Bolling has authored or co-authored numerous publications, including Search for Peace in the Middle East; Private Foreign Aid; This is Germany; Reporters Under Fire; Private Diplomacy With the Soviet Union; Conflict Resolution: and Track Two Diplomacy.

Thomas Cushman
Thomas Cushman is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at Wellesley College. He is the coeditor of This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia and author of Critical Theory and the War in Bosnia. Mr. Cushman is the General Editor of the book series on "Post-Communist Cultural Studies" published by Penn State Press. He is currently at work on a sociological study of trust in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Sara Kahn
Sara Kahn holds master�s degrees in both social work and public health from Columbia University. Ms. Kahn has been involved in both clinical treatment and program development for families and communities in crisis. During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ms. Kahn helped develop a psychosocial program for internally displaced families in Zenica. More recently, she served as Psychosocial Consultant to Physicians for Human Rights Antemortem Database and Identification Projects, which seek to help identify bodies recovered from the mass graves of Srebrenica.

Rusmir Mahmutcehajic
Received his Ph.D. in 1980 from Zagreb University. Between 1991 and 1992 he was vice president of the Bosnia-Herzegovina government. He resigned for not accepting then prevailing policy. He was also a member of the Council of Universities in Sarajevo and Osijek and president of the Committee for Social Issues in the Bosnia-Herzegovina government. Since 1996, he has been the president of the Editorial Council of Dialogue: Journal for Philosophy and Social Issues and chief editor of the Blagaj Journal for Islamic Tradition and Bosniaks Heritage. In 1997, he was elected the first president of the International Forum Bosnia. He is widely published in his field of scientific specialization and has published eighteen books of prose and philosophical and political essays.

Julie Mertus
Julie Mertus is a Visiting Professor and Fellow in Law and Religion at Emory University School of Law. Formerly Counsel to Helsinki Watch (focusing on the former Yugoslavia), a Fulbright Scholar (in Romania), a MacArthur Foundation peace fellow, and a Harvard Law School Human Rights program visiting fellow, Ms. Mertus specializes in ethnonational conflict and the human rights of women and ethnonational minorities. She is the author of National Truths and coauthor of Open Wounds: Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo. She is the coeditor of The Suitcase: Refugees' Voices from Bosnia and Croatia.

Fionnuala Ni Aolain
Assistant Professor, International Law, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Visiting Professor, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, New York. Past Special Representative of the Prosecutor, former Yugoslavia, monitoring domestic war crimes trials. Publications in the field of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Ph.D. from Queens University, Belfast.

Michael A. Sells
Michael Sells is Professor of Comparative Religions at Haverford College in Haverford, Penn. He is the author of The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. He is also the author of three books and more than forty scholarly articles on religion and the Bosnian conflict, Arabic literature, the Qur'an, and mysticism in the Greek, Latin, and Arabic traditions.

The Bridge Betrayed has been honored with the 1997 American Academy of Religion award for excellence in the historical study of religions. The book has received major reviews in The New Republic, The San Francisco Examiner, and the Toronto Globe & Mail, and a feature article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. His earlier article, "Religious Dimensions of Genocide in Bosnia" was honored with selection for the volume: Common Era: The Best Writings in Religion, 1994.

Professor Sells is the president and founder of the Community of Bosnia Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting a multireligious, culturally pluralistic Bosnia and to helping Bosnians in tangible ways.

Michael P. Scharf
Professor, New England School of Law. J.D. Duke University School of Law. Worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State, where he served as Attorney-Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Attorney-Adviser for U.N. Affairs, and a member of the U.S. Delegations to the U.N. General Assembly and Human Rights Commission. He is currently the managing director of the Public International Law and Policy Group. Author of Balkan Justice: The Story Behind the First International Criminal Tribunal Since Nuremberg.

Stephen W. Walker
Mr. Walker is the director of the Balkan Institute, Washington, D.C., and former director of the American Committee to Save Bosnia. A former U.S. career diplomat, he resigned from the State Department in 1993 in protest over U.S. policy toward Bosnia. At the time of his resignation, he was the State Department's Croatia Desk Officer and a member of the Balkan Conflict Group in the Office of East European Affairs. The Balkan Institute was formed in May 1995 to educate the public on the nature of the crisis in the Balkans and its humanitarian, political, and military consequences. Through public education and discourse, it promotes a greater understanding and higher level of awareness of the ongoing threats to peace in the region and U.S. interests in the Balkans and beyond.