This fascinating report analyses the systems of war-related payments that have been implemented in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the war in the former Yugoslavia. It shows that payments to civilians who suffered harm in the war, and payments to war veterans, whether injury-based or by way of recognition of service, have merged confusingly with social welfare benefits for the protection of the poor and vulnerable in the society.
A lack of coherency in the underlying rationale for eligibility for the various payments awarded means that the true purpose of the payments is unclear. According to the findings of this study, only payments to victims of sexual violence and rape in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina bear sufficient resemblance to the characteristics of compensation or reparations payments, as required by international law, for them to be classified as such. Other payments to civilian victims of war, which are assessed on the basis of physical disability, are a curious blend of characteristics drawn from welfare models, as well as from compensatory or reparatory models. Payments to former servicemen and their families are also confusingly poised between some kind of recognition for service, recognition of harm incurred during service – and welfare considerations.
In fact no comprehensive and specifically designated reparations scheme has been established and questions have arisen as to the legitimacy and justice of the existing scheme of (partially) war-related payments. Consensus is difficult to establish as to how the system should be reformed to increase transparency and public acceptance, while at the same time reducing the enormous economic burden on the States in question.