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Repatriation in Bosnia and Herecgovina, an Analysis of Institutional Problems in BiH, with examples from Ilidza
Linköping University, Department of Management and Economics.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Economics.
2001 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Magister)Student thesisAlternative title
Återvandring i Bosnien och Hercegovina, en analys av institutionella problem i BiH med exempel från Ilidza (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to analyse the institutional problems which restrain the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons to and within Bosnia and Hercegovina with examples from the municipalities of Ilidza, Bosnia and Hercegovina. With intention to fulfil the aim of this study we will try to answer what problems that are connected to the Dayton Peace Agreement and how those problems impact the repatriation issue. Further we intend to discern what role the culture, values and norms play in the repatriation process. We also try to answer what formal institutional problems exist in BiH and what importance they constitute on the repatriation process. Finally we are discussing whether it is possible or not to institutionalise the repatriation process. The thesis is based on the interviews we made in BiH during the spring 2001.

During the war in BiH, more than 2,3 million people were displaced from their homes. Each of the wartime regimes allocated abandoned properties and established complex legal and administrative barriers to return, designed to make the separation of the population irreversible. In this way the separation of the population was permanent. Several years of international efforts have achieved a legal framework that recognises property rights as they stood at the beginning of the conflict, and establishes a legal and administrative claims process for the repossession of the property.

DPA is considered one of the most complicated peace agreements ever constructed and it consists of several objectives, which aim to uphold a tolerant and democratic constitutional state. There are several paradoxes connected to Annex 7 and the fact that both entities were allowed to have their own constitutions, in which they do not recognise each other constitutional rights, may seem peculiar when they at the same time are supposed to constitute one unity, one country. The federal bodies in the country began to develop before the national bodies were functioning. This has created inconsistencies between the different bodies and between the different legal frameworks and DPA still has a long way to go before being completely implemented.

Ethnic nationalist feelings play an important role in political life in BiH and they constitute an effective impediment in the repatriation process. Nationalism has become a common element in the daily life in BiH. Thinking of that the entity constitutions refer to the citizens in the opposite entity as others shows how they perceive each other. After the war each ethnic group seems to concentrate on protecting their own rights, otherwise they will be lost. Citizens in BiH do not have the same constitutional rights in both entities and before this question is solved, a safe minority return is not possible.

The functioning of the judicial system is an important factor in the repatriation process. A problem is that the laws are often contradictory or incomplete. This problem is visible on the local level, where politicians often do not know which law to refer to the result is that the local actors do not know how to interpret the laws and then they often do it arbitrarily or they just ignore the laws. The result is often a situation of passing the buck and the citizen stands powerless to the public officials’ demands. This problem is referred to as the state wall of administrative silence and it is a frequent phenomenon at the local level that severely delays the repatriation process. This attitude reciprocity has been common in both municipalities for a long time, as well as in BiH in general, which has resulted in a slow and inefficient repatriation process.

Post-war Bosnia and Hercegovina finds itself at a crossroads between an antiquated mechanism that protects state authorities on the one hand, and a modern state institution that serves the citizens and protects their rights on the other. In BiH the new institutions imposed by external powers meet the old institutions, which still are powerful. Those are not synchronised in a way they should, i.e. the old structure or the structure leftover from the collapse of Yugoslavia impedes the new structure rather then collaborating with it. The issue of repatriation has been caught in a structural chaos and BiH has a long way to go before a non-political integration can become a reality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ekonomiska institutionen , 2001. , 83 p.
Master Thesis in Political Science, 2001:7
Keyword [en]
Political science, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Dayton Peace Agreement, institutionalism, nationalism and ethnicity
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-939OAI: diva2:23895
Available from: 2001-11-06 Created: 2001-11-06

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