RECOM is the acronym for the Regional Commission for the establishment of the facts about the war crimes and other serious violations of human rights committed in the former Yugoslavia from 1 January 1991 until 31 December 2001. The establishment of RECOM is advocated by a network of civil society organizations from post-Yugoslav countries – the Coalition for RECOM – with 2,050 members. The Coalition brings together human rights organizations and activists, associations of families of missing persons, refugees, and veterans, and associations of families of former prison camps inmates, family members of war crimes victims, artists, writers, journalists, lawyers, researchers and other individuals who are directly involved in the promotion of the idea of establishing the Regional Commission.
The initiative for the establishment of the Regional Commission was launched in 2006 by three non-governmental human rights organizations: the Humanitarian Law Center (Serbia), Documenta (Croatia) and the Research and Documentation Center (Sarajevo).
The Coalition for RECOM was established on 28 October 2008 in Pristina. After four years of debates on the goals, objectives and future activities of the Regional Commission, the Coalition on 26 March 2011 adopted the Draft Statute of RECOM.
In May and June 2011 the Coalition for RECOM organized a campaign for the establishment of RECOM in 13 cities of the post-Yugoslav countries, during which 550,000 citizens signed a petition seeking the establishment of the Regional Commission.
At the end of June 2011, the Coalition handed the petition with 550,000 signatures and the Draft RECOM Statute to the then presidents of the post-Yugoslav countries, inviting them to set up jointly an intergovernmental commission tasked with establishing the facts about war crimes and other serious human rights violations, making roll-call records of the persons who lost their lives in the wars in the former Yugoslavia from January 1991 to December 2001, drawing up a register of prison camps and other detention facilities and acknowledging the injustices that were committed against the victims.
With a view to taking the Initiative for the establishment of the Regional Commission to a political level, the Coalition in September 2011 asked all the Presidents of the states in the region to appoint their Envoys to RECOM, to proffer their opinions concerning the RECOM Draft Statute in the context of the constitutional and legal conditions for the establishment of the RECOM. The Presidents and the Presidency of B&H accepted the Coalition’s proposal and appointed the following eminent figures to be their Personal Envoys to RECOM: Professor Zlata Đurđević, (Croatia); Justice Siniša Važić, (Serbia); Luben Arnaudoski, Deputy Secretary-General for legal and financial affairs in the Cabinet of the President of Macedonia; Professor Sonja Tomović Šundić, (Montenegro); Selim Selimi, legal advisor to the President of Kosovo; Aljoša Čampara, Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo (appointed by the Bosnian Member of the Presidency of B&H) and Goran Mihaljević, legal expert on cooperation with the Hague Tribunal (appointed by the Croatian Member of the Presidency of B&H).
After working together for a year, and following consultations with the Presidents/Members of the Presidency who delegated them, the Personal Envoys on 28 October 2014 handed to the Coalition the document Amendments to the RECOM Statute.
On 14 November 2014, the Assembly of the Coalition discussed the Amendments to the RECOM Statute and approved it with no objections. The Coalition found that “the gist of the Draft Statute has not been changed, and that the removal of punitive powers will also remove the fear that RECOM might take over judicial responsibilities, and that the procedure for putting forward candidates and the election of the Selection Board and Commission Members has been substantially simplified“. The Coalition for RECOM welcomed the changes made with regard to funding the Commission, according to which RECOM will be funded through domestic and foreign donations and funds received from international organizations instead of through contributions from the states, as proposed by the Coalition. The Coalition particularly welcomed the Envoys’ idea of introducing another goal for RECOM, namely, “the improvement of educational programmes in accordance with the facts that the Commission will establish“.
In the meantime, a new B&H Presidency has been elected, and Croatia now has a new (female) President. So the Coalition must now secure support from these new leaders: Dragan Čović and Mladen Ivanić, the Croatian and Serbian members of the BiH Presidency respectively, and Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, President of Croatia. To be able to do this, the Coalition needs strong public support.
The good news: After the meeting with the Public Advocates for the RECOM Initiative on the 6th of July 2015, the Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić announced to the media that the Serbian government supports the establishment of a regional commission.
Coalition for RECOM, July 2015