Understandings of Law in Croatia

  • Ivor Sokolić
Part of the Memory Politics and Transitional Justice book series (MPTJ)


The inconsistent effects of the transitional justice process in Croatia have allowed a tolerance for certain crimes to develop, such as revenge crimes, crimes of passion or killings of Serb civilians. Transitional justice institutions had to operate in the context of localised complexities and normative expectations in attempting to instil a rule of law norm in the public, which at times did not take hold. This chapter unpacks this. Respondents regarded all domestic and international institutions, including legal ones, as corrupt and inefficient, which they were consequently dissatisfied with and distrustful of. They felt powerless in an unresponsive system where justice was imposed from above. This allowed for an apologetic attitude towards certain crimes, based on an understanding of the law that was not legally consistent but was consistent with emotional and political narratives, such as the dominant war narrative.


  1. Arendt, H. (2006). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evil. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  2. Belgrade Human Rights Centre. (2011). Informisanost i stavovi građana Hrvatske prema Haškom tribunalu i suđenjima za ratne zločine pred sudovima u Hrvatskoj [Awareness and attitudes of the citizens of Croatia towards the ICTY and war crimes trials in Croatia].Google Scholar
  3. Brodersen, K. H. (2014). The ICTY’s conditionality dilemma. European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, 22, 219–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Caritas Croatia and the Franciscan Institute for the Culture. (2001). Peace in Croatia: Results of research. Zagreb: CROPAX.Google Scholar
  5. Elster, J. (2004). Closing the books: Transitional justice in historical perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hagan, J., & Ivković, S. K. (2006). War crimes, democracy, and the rule of law in Belgrade, the former Yugoslavia, and beyond. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 605, 130–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ipsos Puls. (2012, January). Izbori 2011 [Elections 2011].Google Scholar
  8. Karsai, L. (2000a). Crime and punishment: People’s courts, revolutionary legality, and the Hungarian holocaust. InterMarium, 4, 1–13.Google Scholar
  9. Karsai, L. (2000b). The people’s courts and revolutionary justice in Hungary, 1945–1946. In I. Deák, J. T. Gross, & T. Judt (Eds.), The politics of retribution in Europe: World War II and its aftermath (pp. 233–251). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  10. Kolstø, P. l. (2011). Strategies of symbolic nation-building in west Balkan states: Intents and results. University of Oslo. Available at
  11. Lamont, C. K. (2010). International criminal justice and the politics of compliance. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  12. Luban, D. (2004). A theory of crimes against humanity. Yale Journal of International Law, 29, 124–131.Google Scholar
  13. McAuliffe, P. (2010). Transitional justice and the rule of law: The perfect couple or awkward bedfellows? Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 2, 127–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Meares, T. L., & Kahan, D. M. (1998). Law and (norms of) order in the inner city. Law & Society Review, 32, 805–838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Panakova, J. (2011). Law and politics of universal jurisdiction. Amsterdam Law Forum, 3, 49–72.Google Scholar
  16. Radbruch, G. (1946). Gesetzliches unrecht und übergesetzliches recht. Süddeutsche Juristenzeitung, 1, 105–108.Google Scholar
  17. Sampson, R. J., & Bartusch, D. J. (1998). Legal cynicism and (subcultural?) tolerance of deviance: The neighborhood context of racial differences. Law & Society Review, 32, 777–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sarkin, J. (2015). The interrelationship and interconnectness of transitional justice and the rule of law in Uganda: Pursuing justice, truth, guarantees of non-repetition, reconciliation and reparations for past crimes and human rights violations. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 7, 111–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shklar, J. N. (1964). Legalism: Law, morals, and political trials. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Slaughter, A. M. (2004). A new world order. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Spoerri, M., & Freyberg-Inan, A. (2008). From prosecution to persecution: Perceptions of the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in Serbian domestic politics. Journal of International Relations and Development, 11, 350–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stover, E. (2005). The witnesses: War crimes and the promise of justice in The Hague. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Subotic, J. (2009). Hijacked justice: Dealing with the past in the Balkans. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Teitel, R. G. (2005). The law and politics of contemporary transitional justice. Cornell International Law Journal, 38, 837–862.Google Scholar
  25. Tladi, D. (2012). Cooperation, immunities, and article 98 of the Rome statute: The ICC, interpretation, and conflicting norms. ASIL Annual Meeting Proceedings, 106, 307–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. United Nations Security Council. (1993). Resolution 827. Document S/RES/827.Google Scholar
  27. Zambelli, N. (2010). A journey westward: A poststructuralist analysis of Croatia’s identity and the problem of cooperation with the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Europe-Asia Studies, 62, 1661–1682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivor Sokolić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GovernmentLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

Personalised recommendations