The Serbian Project and Its Adversaries

A Strategy of War Crimes

James Gow

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The Serbian Project and Its Adversaries Paperback
May 2003£20.00
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This work offers a military-political analysis of the Yugoslav war. James Gow identifies the core of the war in Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian strategic project to create and consolidate borders through ethnic cleansing, and at the same time considers the approaches to the war of each of Belgrade’s adversaries. The work is based on research for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and on interviews and Yugoslav materials. Its point of departure is the importance of this material to the practical need legally to establish jurisdiction to hear cases at The Hague Tribunal and of the conceptual distinction between acts of war, on the one hand, and war crimes and crimes against humanity, on the other. Gow argues that the Serbian strategy at the heart of the war was in essence criminal – a strategy of war crimes. Despite this, a strategic understanding may, controversially, mitigate some of the charges against Serbian military-political leaders.


James Gow is Professor of International Peace and Security at King's College London. He is the author of several books on the former Yugoslavia, among them The Serbian Project and its Adversaries: A Strategy of War Crimes (Hurst, 2003), Triumph of the Lack of Will: International Diplomacy and the Yugoslav Way (Hurst, 1997) and Legitimacy and the Military: The Yugoslav Crisis (1992). He was the first prosecution witness to be called at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


‘As James Gow shows in his extremely important, well-researched and highly persuasive book, the violence that hit Croatia and Bosnia in 1991–92 was far from random. Rather, it followed an entirely coherent pattern and was deployed in support of rational, albeit reprehensible political ends. Gow’s interpretation is based on his pioneering work as an expert witness to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague.’ — Brendan Simms, Sunday Times