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New Book: Post-War Bosnia: Ethnicity, Inequality and Public Sector Governance

8 Feb 2006



Ten years after the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, ethnicity continues to matter and the country remains dependent on international intervention. At the same time, the country is making strides to catch up with the European integration process.

Florian Bieber’s study shows the potential and limits of governmental and institutional reforms for managing deeply divided societies, especially when such societies have been plunged into war. The Dayton peace accords that ended the war produced one of the most complex systems of government in the world. The country became, in a sense, a semi-protectorate because of the very extensive presence of the international community in the fields of security and administration. In addition, stringent and wide-ranging rules for balanced group representation produced seven different types and levels of government, 13 constitutions, more than one hundred ministries, and veto rights at most levels of government.

These reforms have been effective in ending the war and promoting high levels of proportionality in group representation in the public sector. However, the ethnic territorialization of governance has excluded minorities: Serbs in the Bosniak-Croat federation, and Bosniaks and Croats in the Serb entity. It has also been difficult for cross-ethnic identities to flourish as in the communist period. Indeed, the author contends that stability has been achieved at the expense of accountable and effective government. Despite efforts to promote cross-ethnic parties through several electoral devices, the grip of the nationalist parties on the electorate remains very strong. The presence of international actors has also created a dependency syndrome with implications for the sustainability of the reforms.

The tenth anniversary of the November 2005 Dayton peace accord should have encouraged policy makers and scholars to reflect on the experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina in the fields of conflict management, socioeconomic inequalities, representation in public institutions, minority rights, and the role of international actors in stabilizing conflict-ridden societies.

Bieber’s book provides analytical insights and systematic data to help guide this ongoing reflection. International intervention in Bosnia was the first of a number of interventions in ethnically divided societies, from East Timor to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and can thus provide important lessons.

Contents
Introduction
Historical Legacies
Cleavages and Inequalities in Post-War Bosnia
Governance and Administration in Bosnia
The Record of the Post-Dayton Elections
Addressing Inequality and Reforming Governance in Post-War Bosnia
Conclusions

Florian Bieber is a Senior Non-Resident Research Associate of the European Centre for Minority Issues in Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, and teaches at the Central European University, Hungary, the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the University of Bologna, Italy.

Post-War Bosnia: Ethnicity, Inequality and Public Sector Governanceis copublished with Palgrave Macmillan; hardback, ISBN 1-4039-9882-5, 200 pages, 2006, £45.

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