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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 7: Discussion and Conclusions – Change of OHR Impact over Time


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Discussion and Conclusions – Change of OHR Impact over Time

This study has illuminated how the OHR and the most impactful members of its Steering Board have influenced Multi-Level Governance in BiH. From a process sociological point of view, it becomes evident that the OHR had a function for local actors, such as ministers or members of parliament, as it had the power to withhold from them their ability to maintain their public offices or to enact or amend laws. At the same time, the local actors also had the power to withhold much needed support from the OHR that was essential to reproducing its output legitimacy. While the power differential between the OHR and local actors decreased to the disadvantage of the OHR, the character of OHR decision-making has changed over time, diminishing the ability of the OHR to use punitive measures.

As discussed in Chapter 6, the impact of the OHR can be divided into three phases: the consolidation phase (1995–1997), the activist phase (1998–2004) and the disengagement phase (since 2005). In order to provide insight into the process of OHR impact and how it has changed over time, this study has examined official OHR documents, interview data and literature. To my knowledge, this is the first independent and extensive review on the topic to draw on leaked diplomatic US cables, most of them classified as confidential or secret. These reveal valuable insights into how the...

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