Change in Presidential Administrations

The series of events leading to the establishment of the ICTY commenced during the Bush, Sr. administration, when the USG began compiling detailed reports on atrocities in the Balkans, sent them to the UN, and began working (publicly and privately) on the creation of an ICT for the FRY. The Clinton administration continued USG support for the establishment of what would become the ICTY. Thus, the change in presidential administrations had no significant impact on this tribunal’s genesis, in contrast to the effect the transition from FDR to Truman had on the transitional justice response to Nazi atrocities.243 This fact is especially noteworthy given that continuity was maintained for the FRY when successive presidents were members of different parties whereas policy goals changed for Nazi Germany when successive presidents shared partisan affiliation.

One explanation offered for why the Bush, Sr.-Clinton transitional justice policy remained consistent was because of overlapping staff representation in both administrations; therefore, these staff members’ preferred policies remained the same.244 Moreover, the staffers who crafted the USG’s transitional justice policies for the FRY were largely career civil servants rather than senior political appointees. As these low- to mid-level bureaucrats were primarily responsible for drafting policy toward the ICTY, one might infer that the USG considered the matter less a priority than their predecessors in the 1940s. In comparison, the decision over addressing Nazis was debated at the highest levels of the USG. The scope of atrocities and the presence or absence of U.S. troops distinguish the two cases and help explain the different levels of attention and controversy their transitional justice responses received.

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