Paramilitaries are a common phenomenon in wars, such as during the disintegration of Yugoslavia. On 7 April Iva Vukusic (History and Art History) defends her dissertation titled 'Serbian Paramilitaries in the Breakup of Yugoslavia'' online.
PhD dissertation Iva Vukusic: Serbian Paramilitaries in the Breakup of Yugoslavia
While significant variations exist in different conflicts, one thing is true – paramilitaries as violent actors are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. In the former Yugoslavia virtually everything written on the war discusses paramilitaries, and recounts incidents in which units expelled civilian populations and murdered or detained innocent people. However, there was never comprehensive research conducted on Serbian units specifically, which were most numerous, and which engaged in attacks on civilians for a decade in three theaters of war: in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.
Vukusic dived into the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague to answer questions such as where, how, why and by whom these key units were established, and how they functioned and transformed during the war and immediately after. The dissertation analyzes the nature and purpose of paramilitaries, and the ways in which they interacted with state institutions and organized crime. This research illuminates how units were established to boost troop numbers and provide a way for the Serbian leadership to outsource some of the violence to seemingly independent actors. The regime of Slobodan Milošević did this in order to achieve war-time goals while remaining ostensibly detached from violence which was illegal and which caused diplomatic backlash.