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The Disintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina

From Ethnic Cleansing to Ethnified Governance


Alim Baluch

This book argues that the «international community» created and managed the dysfunctional state of Bosnia and Herzegovina by effectively rewarding ethnic cleansing, drawing up a transitional constitution which, in turn, generated a complex ethnifying polity incapable of independent reform. This constitution, which was only added as an annex to the Dayton Peace Agreement, has continued to encourage ethnification, understood in this book as the reproduction of imagined communities of descent.

While accepting that foreign interference was necessary to end the war in the late 1990s, the book offers a critical review of the actions of the Office of the High Representative of the International Community (OHR) and other foreign actors since that period. It includes meticulous examination of hundreds of OHR decisions, as well as secret diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks revealing how the US embassy intervened in the country's trade and foreign policy.

Drawing on a process-sociological perspective, the book interrogates the notion of ethnicity and offers a radical new perspective on post-war state-building in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Chapter 6: Analysis of OHR Impact on Policies in BiH


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Analysis of OHR Impact on Policies in BiH

In this chapter, OHR involvement is analysed according to its impact on the crucial policy areas which were subject to extensive OHR interference. Policy-makers such as governments and international organizations typically term certain sets of intended adjustments in policy areas as “reforms”. This term “reform”, however, inherently conveys the notion of improvement; therefore, it can be considered a euphemism, rendering the use of this terminology without critical discussion questionable. For that reason, the term ‘adjustments’ or ‘structural adjustments’ is preferred in this study. References to the “police reform” or the “defence reform” will still occur if considered necessary to avoid confusion, given that this terminology has shaped the discussion of the OHR involvement in BiH over the last decade.

This chapter focuses broadly on the impact of the OHR on 5 policy areas.

6.1 Military matters

For obvious reasons, military structures are crucial to peacekeeping missions in post-war polities. The Armed Forces in post-war BiH were not only ethnified along entity lines, but even within the FBiH, the Armed Forces remained ethnified along Bosniak and Croat regiments. The OHR, being equipped with the Bonn Powers in December 1997, had more leverage at its disposal and used it in early 1999. Confronted with contradicting interpretations of the chains of command in the context of Annex 4, the OHR (Westendorp) intervened in February 1999 with the decision on the...

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