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Monday, 8 June 2015

Turning international intervention into domestic cooperation in post-war societies: The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

David Madden (SEESOX Associate and Senior Member of St Antony's College)

Adis Merdzanovic gave a seminar on this subject on 4 June, with Richard Caplan as Discussant, and David Madden as Chair.

He distinguished between international intervention to end a war, and “political peace-building” in post- conflict politics. There were two phases of the latter: the establishment of constitutional order, including introduction of a power-sharing system; and consolidation of the political order (including the vexed question of veto powers). The latter was often seen as having negative consequences, and raising questions of democracy/legitimacy. In fact this depended on the intervention mode adopted by external actors. The aim should not be to substitute for domestic decision making, but strengthen negotiating capacity. The Arbiter mode would produce more local compromises than the Agenda approach: under the latter the external actor/actors had their own preferred solution which they were prepared to impose if there were no local compromise; the former was based on process, and looked to the imposition of a solution wanted by those locals most willing to compromise.

The Bonn Powers (1997) made Bosnia-Herzegovina a “semi-protectorate”. There was a mixed record: progress in terms of legislation and state structures, but a dependency syndrome. The Agency Model made local use of vetoes and hence imposition more likely; the Arbiter model was more likely to produce local compromise. This proposition was examined using a variety of hypothetical and actual models. The Citizenship Law was an example of Agency, the implementation of the 2002 court decision on “constituent peoples” an example of Arbiter. Overall, the conclusion was that international intervention should focus on enforcing local compromises rather than imposing solutions.

In response to questions from Richard Caplan, the speaker agreed that the model and statistics did not necessarily or fully reflect the importance of the issues being handled due to a lack of respective data; confirmed that the findings were based on interviews with former High Representatives and local politicians; commented that of course politicians based their calculations on “game theory” and the likelihood of others either using or not using veto powers (“strategic positioning”); and accepted that that there was no absolute distinction between Agency and Arbiter because positions of all parties could change in the course of a negotiation.

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