The truth as a phenomenon has always been an inherent element of human existence. Every human being aspires to comprehend the truth, because its absence often leads to the feeling of uncertainty, injustice and despair. These feelings are strong especially in the event of death of the closest relatives, when their torments and deaths remain mysterious and elusive. In that case, an individual loses the faith in other people, the truth becomes merely a farce, and the very human existence is just a platitude.
The horrible killings of tens of millions of people during the twentieth century, orchestrated by some countries and centers of power, do not cease to appall to this day that part of humanity that is dedicated to the democratic values and the humanization of every aspect of private and public life.
The United Nations are an eternal symbol of the triumph of peace, hope and truth, but at the same time a reminder that these values are very fragile and that they constantly need to be maintained and enriched. Moreover, every human being has the universal duty to continually work on their preservation and promotion. The defeat of the fascist vision of the world in 1945 was just the first step in the realization process of the undoubtedly the most ambitious and most complex project in the history of mankind. It envisioned the well-being of an individual as the highest value. Every goal defined in the UN Charter is ultimately an instrument for achieving that value.
In the spirit of the realization of this universal project, the UN decided in 2010 that 24 March would be the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.
On that day, in 1980, the archbishop Romero of El Salvador was murdered while serving Mass, as a man who dedicated his whole life to fighting poverty, social injustice and who sincerely believed in a more just and better world. No one was held accountable for his death, although this tragic event did stir up the international community which saw traces of the past times and the risk of implosion of everything developed in the past decades, in the gross human rights violations and in the general degradation of human dignity in El Salvador, torn apart by civil war for years.
The UN, aware of the moral duty to discover the truth about this, but also many other brutal human rights violations in El Salvador during the 1980-1991 period, had formed a special commission whose final report from 1993 was symbolically titled “From Madness to Hope”.
The results were petrifying – more than 95% of the human rights violations had been perpetrated by the Government of El Salvador. The fundamental human values had been systematically stomped upon – people brutally murdered, tortured, thousands missing.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights conducted several studies that pointed out that the right to the truth concerning gross human rights violations is an inalienable right, which corresponds to the obligation of every state not only to protect this right, but also to promptly conduct an investigation and enable adequate legal mechanisms for satisfaction.
The UN General Assembly passed the resolution in 2010, following the proposal of the Human Rights Council, which, besides the formal inclusion of 24 March in the UN calendar, focuses on the preamble – it is permeated by the very essence of the ideas of the UN.
“ Recognizing the importance of promoting the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and the importance of the right to truth and justice,
Acknowledging, at the same time, the significance of paying tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all,
Recognizing in particular the important and valuable work of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was actively engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights in his country, and whose work was acknowledged internationally through his messages, in which he denounced violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations
- Proclaims 24 March the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims..”.
Serbia was not spared from the atrocities of war and mass murders during the twentieth century.
Refusing to accept the fascist values, Serbian people stood together with Jews and Roma people, and as a result, paid a huge price for their liberty, for the second time in the same century.
The dignity and the right of peoples of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to self-determination were defended by as many as two resistance movements, each with its own vision of the future state.
The newly formed Socialist Yugoslavia was one of the founding states of the UN, which is yet another confirmation of the dedication to democratic values and faith in the rights of every individual and peoples. Sadly, the end of the twentieth century brought severe sufferings and the decadence of all the values that renowned individuals had fought for just few decades ago.
The people from all around Yugoslavia are very well familiar with the hopelessness, darkness and the absence of faith – the emotional states all pointed out by the archbishop Romero.
For these reasons, 24 March is an especially tough day for Serbia. That day we remember all the mothers and fathers deprived of the right to the truth about the death of their children even 25 years later. We remember hundreds of thousands of refugees wiped out by The Storm. We remember the “Merciful Angel” that, in the name of the human rights, deprived arbitrarily tens of thousands of civilians of the very same rights, in flagrant violation of the basic principles defined in the UN Charter. We remember the international community that looked the other way during these violations, and also many unfair judicial processes.
However, at the same time, we have to be aware of the series of wrong actions committed by ourselves, and face the accountability for numerous victims. We must remember those victims every 24 March and show them that we are a mature society that punishes the wrongdoers regardless of race, sex, language or religion.
Justice and truth belong to every individual and every victim. It is our universal duty to fight for them and to remember all the victims, because this is the only way to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.
- Stojanovic, Zoran, Medjunarodno Krivicno pravo, Beograd, Pravna knjiga, 2015
Bachelor of Law, Lav Dimovic,
Master Degree Student – International Law