Bosnia: Reshaping the International Machinery
Bosnia: Reshaping the International Machinery
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans
Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans
Report 121 / Europe & Central Asia

Bosnia: Reshaping the International Machinery

After six years and billions of dollars spent, peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains far from complete. Reshaping (‘recalibrating’, in local jargon) the international community (IC) presence is vital if the peace process is to have a successful outcome.

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Executive Summary

After six years and billions of dollars spent, peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains far from complete. Reshaping (‘recalibrating’, in local jargon) the international community (IC) presence is vital if the peace process is to have a successful outcome.

This presence is the result of ad hoc expansion since the Dayton Agreement was signed in December 1995.  It is beset by five main problems: lack of a shared strategic vision; uncoordinated leadership; duplication and lack of communication; personality clashes and cross-cutting institutional interests; and ineffectual management of economic reform. 

Based on interviews with scores of international and local officials at many levels in Bosnia, this report analyses and assesses the current exercise in IC reform. It urges those involved to agree on a comprehensive proposal – based on the Kosovo ‘pillar model’ – that can not only be endorsed by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) Political Directors at the next Steering Board meeting in Brussels on 6 December 2001, but which will mark a break with the muddle, inconsistency and half-measures of the past.

Reform must amount to more than just downsizing, or changing the seating plan at the international top table in Sarajevo. It must reflect a coherent strategy, finally, to make Bosnia a stable, viable state with a robust rule of law and enduring central institutions, capable of making its way towards membership in the European Union (EU). This requires a plan to complete the implementation of the Dayton Agreement by equipping Bosnia with the institutions it needs to fulfil the strategy. Once declared complete, Dayton implementation can yield to the technical imperatives of European integration.

Above all, however, the reform must acknowledge that if Bosnia cannot be put on its feet by evolution, nudged along by the High Representative, or by some negotiated constitutional settlement, then the IC must be ready to impose a more workable and democratic model than Dayton envisaged. This could involve creating a strong but fully representative central government, clearing away the counterproductive entity and cantonal structures, devolving substantial powers to the municipalities, and designing largely depoliticised structures for regional administration. It is not too soon for the PIC Steering Board to start consultations on post-Dayton structures.

Time is now of the essence.  The IC should take advantage of the current Bosnian leadership’s commitment to partnership in effecting positive change, and give Bosnians something positive to vote for in next year’s elections, rather than find itself starting again with less amenable politicians in 2003.

Sarajevo/Brussels, 29 November 2001

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