‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life’: Steps towards Accountability for Genocide in Srebrenica


Simić, Olivera, and Kathleen Daly. 2011. “‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life’: Steps towards Accountability for Genocide in Srebrenica.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 477–91. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr020.

Authors: Olivera Simić, Kathleen Daly


On 15 July each year, Women in Black, an antimilitarist and feminist organization based in Belgrade, organize or participate in events in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to mark the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica. In 2010, in collaboration with a number of artists, Women in Black blocked the main pedestrian mall in Belgrade and, under police protection, laid out about 500 pairs of shoes given to them by Serbian citizens. Each pair represented the life and death of a person killed in the massacre, and each carried a handwritten message from the person who gave it. We analyse the meaning and significance of this campaign as a civil society mechanism of accountability and moral reparations. Although criminal prosecutions for war crimes in the Balkans have been taking place for nearly two decades, they have not been able to address the conflicts and animosities that persist in the region. We argue that by participating in ‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life,’ Serbian citizens have begun to take steps towards publicly accepting responsibility for failing to prevent the crime of genocide perpetrated in their name.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Genocide, Justice, Reparations, Transitional Justice Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2011

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