Summary: Ever since the war in theformer Yugoslavia came to an end, the international community hassought to establish new politicaland constitutional arrangementsfor Bosnia and Herzegovina thatwould bring the country togetherwithin a framework of democracyand the rule of law. Today, Bosniaand Herzegovina suffers, as it has throughout the postwar period,from a lack of consensus, commu-nity, legitimacy, organization, effec- tiveness, and stability in its political
life. This deciency is impeding its
transition to liberal democracy.In many ways Bosnia and Herzegov-ina resembles a mini-Yugoslavia.“Ethnonationalism” dominates not just the country’s constitution butalso its governance and its culture.Because of this it cannot truly be-come a liberal democracy until itsgovernance and its political institu- tions begin to function properly andin the interests of all its citizens. Be-cause democracy is more than justa set of formal institutions, it is time that the international communitypaid greater attention to reforming both kinds of institutions—formaland informal—in Bosnia and Her-zegovina as it continues to seek tocreate a true liberal democracy in that troubled country.
Getting its history wrong is part o beinga nation.
- Ernst Renan
Te history o politics in Yugoslaviabetween 1919 and 1941 can be understood in terms o a succession o exclusions, withdrawals and attempts toredene the terms o reerence o politicallie, rather than constructive engagementwith issues which were common to acommunity whose boundaries, interestsand rules o political conduct were agreed.
- John B. Allcock
In December 1995, diplomats assembled inLondon or a Peace Implementation Con-erence to discuss the uture o Bosnia andHerzegovina. Tere, they set this goal orthemselves: Te establishment o new po-litical and constitutional arrangements orBosnia and Herzegovina that would bringthe country together within a ramework o democracy and the rule o law.More than 13 years later, this goal remainselusive, i only because it requires the will-ing cooperation and collaboration o thepeople o Bosnia and Herzegovina. It alsorequires proper democratic governance.Both still seem largely absent. In his book,
Political Order in Changing Societies,
the lateSamuel Huntington perhaps explained why:“Te most important political distinctionamong countries concerns not their orm o government but their degree o govern-ment. Te dierences between democracy and dictatorship are less than the dierenc-es between those countries whose politicsembody consensus, community, legitimacy,organization, eectiveness, stability, andthose countries whose politics is decient inthose qualities.”Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politics isdecient in almost all those qualities. Tisdeciency is impeding its development asa liberal democracy, the creation o whichis the larger purpose o the internationalpresence that has now lasted nearly 14years. oday, Bosnia and Herzegovina hasall the trappings o democracy—too many perhaps—but orm and substance are notnecessarily the same thing. As ChristopherCoyne, in his book,
Afer War: Te Political Economy o Exporting Democracy
, explains:“… ‘democracy’ is oen conused with‘liberal democracy.’ Democracy dealswith the method o selecting governmentocials, while liberal democracy dealswith the goals o government: theprotection o individual rights, the rule o law, and so on. In the absence o constitutional liberalism, democracy willnot necessarily yield the desired results asdened by U.S. oreign policy objectives…Although politicians and policymakersoen state the end goal o reconstructioneorts as ‘spreading democracy,’ what
Recapitulating Yugoslavia: Culture, Politics,and State-Building in Bosnia and Herzegovina
by Douglas Davidson
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 745 3950F 1 202 265 1662E firstname.lastname@example.org
July 31, 2009
Ambassador Douglas Davidson is a visiting distinguished fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Theviews expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of GMF.