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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Just Peace

Between October 4 and 5, 1990, I represented Hong Kong and attended the WIPO Symposium on Industrial Designs at Amboise. I had the opportunity of visiting Chateau du Clos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final three years as King Francis I's guest. There I came to know a Yugoslavian designer who seemed to be very occupied with the state of affairs of Yugoslavia.

The Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1974, like its previous ones, provided for its nations the right to self-determination including secession if all republics consented. Slovenia and Croatia declared independence in June 1991 and were internationally recognized in January 1992, while Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in March 1992 and was recognized in May 1992. When I first participated in the WIPO's international law-making process as a member of the United Kingdom delegation in Geneva in Spring 1992, I could feel the political confusion regarding the seat arrangements for the newly independent States from Yugoslavia.

It was only in July 2017 that I stepped foot upon the soil of the former Yugoslavia by first visiting the scenic Dubrovnik, the pearl of Adriatic at the extreme south of Croatia. I believed little was remembered about the Siege of Dubrovnik (October 1, 1991 - May 31, 1992) by the Yugoslav People's Army during the Croatian War of Independence. When I visited the Ottoman-style Mostar and its Old Bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I learned that they were heavily bombed and the Bridge was destroyed during the armed conflicts (April 1992 - April 1994) as a result of the declaration of independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

When I visited the oriental-style Sarajevo, I could see bullet holes on building walls here and there and could imagine the fearful circumstances when the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina was closing to annihilation during its Siege (April 5, 1992 - February 29, 1996). I visited in particular the Latin Bridge, the site where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated in 1914 by a Serbian nationalist, sparking initially a war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, and then the first World War due to mutual defence alliances. Since the 1980s, I have taken an academic interest on the Law of War and Peace, but now, I do not even accept any just war, and all I wish is - just peace!

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