Bosnia's Paralysed Peace (Columbia/Hurst)

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9780231701600: Bosnia's Paralysed Peace (Columbia/Hurst)

Immediately following Bosnia's recent war, 60,000 NATO troops were deployed to help implement aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. A number of international institutions, including the European Commission, the IMF, the OHR, the OSCE, the World Bank, and the United Nations, as well as many development agencies, worked together to make the country whole, cushioned by generous flows of aid. Nevertheless, despite this massive commitment in resources and effort, Bosnia's peace process can at best be described as paralyzed. Various unresolved issues threaten to revive old conflicts, and the zero-sum politics of rival ethnonational leaders threaten to disrupt permanent stability.

International officials continue to claim that there is no alternative to Bosnia's European peace path. They urge the country's leaders to temper their rhetoric and hold fast to internationally approved reforms. Christopher Bennett argues instead that the failure to build peace is directly tied to the "liberal peace model" dominating international strategy. While policymakers focus on "what should be" in reproducing Western liberal democracy, they really should consider "what is," especially in terms of ethnonational security. Bennett's account of Bosnia's slow historical disintegration, subsequent brutal war, and present reconstruction institutes a paradigm shift in the scholarship on securing ethnonational security within the country. It also points to a truer method for promoting self-sustaining peace.

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About the Author:

Chris Bennett is assistant high representative and head of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Hercegovina. He is also a member of the faculty of the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology. Bennett wrote this book while on leave from NATO, where he edited the NATO Review for six years.


There is a real need for a balanced, well founded, deeply researched and comprehensive book which documents why Bosnia and Herzegovina's ascent towards a sustainable peace in the first ten years after Dayton, turned into a descent back into fracture, division and dysfunctionality in the second post-Dayton decade. This book fulfils that need, admirably and should be required reading for all those who know and love Bosnia - and necessary reading for all those interested in the process of building peace after conflict. It is not necessary to agree with every judgement or to support every analysis to recognise that this is an important, weighty and admirable work on the tragedy for Europe and the Balkans, that Bosnia is now, in 2016, not prospering in a sustainable peace, but mired in a paralysed one. * Paddy Ashdown, former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina * A desolate story of squandered peace-building opportunity, lucidly and meticulously told. Christopher Bennett makes a compelling case that renewed genocidal violence between Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats is a real risk, and that the only hope for Bosnia is for international pressure to force changes to its political system that would reward cross-group support and cooperation rather than zero sum intransigence. His argument cries out to be heard. * Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group and former Foreign Minister of Australia; author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All * There have been surprisingly few accounts of the international community's engagement in Bosnia following the signing of the Dayton Agreement in 1995 written by individuals closely involved in that process. Christopher Bennett's book is a welcome, thoughtful, and trenchant contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the complex history of 'Dayton Bosnia' from a well-placed insider. * Bruce Hitchner, Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Program, Tufts University, and Chairman of the Dayton Peace Accords Project *

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