Constitutional Paradox: Ethno-federal Consociationalism and Refugee Return in post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Abstract

In 1995, the peace agreement for the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina became one of the latest examples of consociational theory being utilised as a method of conflict management governance in deeply divided societies. Drawing from the work of Arend Lijphart, the Dayton Peace Accord established the institutional design of the future state, which subscribed to the notion that inter-ethnic co-operation is most likely to occur within an ethno-federal power sharing arrangement. This article examines the paradox between the establishment of ethno-federal entities, as a consociational requirement of post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and the integral importance of refugee returns to pre-war multi-ethnic regions, as stated in Annex VII of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP). Rather than simply advocating integrative institutional design as an alternative solution, the experiences of minority refugee returnees in Bosnia-Herzegovina highlight the problematic relationship between the everyday predicaments of displaced individuals, and the implementation of high political theory. This article argues that the reality of refugee returns in Bosnia-Herzegovina has done little to challenge the ethno-federalist features of the GFAP, and thus has not met the expectations of those aiming to successfully achieve the “re-mixing” of ethnic groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-35
Number of pages18
JournalSythesis
Volume6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • consociationalism
  • ethno-federalism
  • refugee returns
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Dayton Peace Accord
  • conflict management
  • reintegration
  • post-conflict

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