Bosnia and Herzegovina Ten Years after Dayton: Lessons for Internationalized State-building

Co-authored with Marc Weller and subsequently published as introduction to a co-edited special issue of Ethnopolitics (vol. 5, no. 1, 2006), this paper discusses three specific dimensions of the internationalized statebuilding process in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past 10 years. First, it examines the complexity of the conflict settlement established by the Dayton Accords and the wide range of factors within Bosnia and Herzegovina affecting their success or failure. However, this level of analysis cannot be regarded as sufficient to achieve a full understanding of the dynamics and outcomes of the internationalized state-building process that Bosnia and Herzegovina has undergone over the past 10 years. Thus, two further dimensions are considered: the nature and mechanisms of the international community’s post-1995 involvement in the country and the regional context within which this internationally driven, resourced and guaranteed state-building venture took place. The examination of these three levels of analysis — local, regional, international — and the relationships between them emphasizes that, while the experience of internationalized state building in Bosnia and Herzegovina may in many ways be unique, it also offers important lessons for this kind of activity, now conducted by the international community across quite a wide range of cases. Yet these are also lessons that can (and should) still be applied to Bosnia and Herzegovina both to entrench the successes of the past decade and to move forward to overcome remaining obstacles.


February 2006