Reconstruction and Development in Bosnia-Herzegovina

By Levitt, Gabriel; Wodynski, David | Public Management, September 1996 | Go to article overview
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Reconstruction and Development in Bosnia-Herzegovina


Levitt, Gabriel, Wodynski, David, Public Management


Public Administration Assistance Is Key

While local government issues might not be the central focus of the massive international undertaking to rebuild the war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina (BH), local government and federal programs in public administration are a critical component of the reconstruction and development efforts. As a result of the Dayton Peace Accord, such public management issues as fiscal federalism, intergovernmental finance, local government budgeting, and citizen participation are being addressed.

ICMA, through its Public Administration Assistance in Central and Eastern Europe contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is playing a pivotal role in these areas of public management. This article summarizes the current political and military situation in BH; explains America's objectives, particularly as they relate to the development role of USAID; and describes how ICMA's work in Bosnia is helping to fulfill these objectives.

The 1995 Peace Accord

On November 21, 1995, after almost four years of fighting and failed negotiations, the warring parties in the Balkans signed the Dayton Peace Accord, ending the war in the former Yugoslavia. The Dayton agreement requires that the Bosnian Serbs, the Bosnian Muslims, and the Bosnian Croats agree to respect the territorial integrity of the former Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The nation state, in accordance with the Dayton Agreement, is composed of two political entities, the Muslim-Croat Federation (the Federation) and the Republika Srpska (RS), which consists mostly of Serbs.

Accomplishing the goals of a sustainable peace in the RBH and of fulfillment of the Dayton Accord's provisions will require a coherent strategy using military, political, and economic measures. As was the case with the Marshall Plan, the large-scale U.S. assistance program initiated to rebuild Western Europe after World War II, external assistance will greatly influence the future of the Balkan region.

The Implementation Force (IFOR) of 60,000 troops from NATO units and a contingent of Russian forces, including 18,000 American soldiers, has accomplished the central military objective of separating the combatants. However, the fulfillment of the Dayton provisions for a multi-ethnic society; freedom of movement; the right of refugees to return home; and a politically neutral environment, including free media, freedom of association, and bringing war criminals to justice, is seriously in question. IFOR's role is confined to limited military objectives that do not allow the troops to intervene in ways that might further the fulfillment of Dayton objectives.

Besides separating the combatants and thereby bringing an end to the violence, IFOR has facilitated the return of a small number of refugees, removed many illegal checkpoints, and arrested lesser criminals charged with war crimes. A debate rages as to whether or not IFOR should be more active in such areas as enforcing freedom of movement and bringing indicted war criminals to justice.

Working Toward a Unified Federation

Conflicting long-term goals among the antagonistic parties is the main problem facing the international program for rehabilitation and reconstruction. The fact that indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic still wield power in the RS is both a functional and a symbolic obstacle that has cast a dark cloud over the region's future. While public statements still are forthcoming from the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs that they are willing to build a multi-ethnic society, nationalist elements from each group dominate events and pursue divisive courses. Many observers predict that the elections, scheduled for September 14, 1996, will likely reinforce an ethnically divided region by entrenching nationalistic and ethnic political parties, rather than promoting the emergence of a multiethnic democracy.

The goal of creating a unified Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina only can be achieved if the Muslims and Croats are truly willing to work together to make the Federation a success.

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