Academic journal article Global Governance

International Authority and State Building: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Academic journal article Global Governance

International Authority and State Building: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Article excerpt

State building refers to efforts to reconstruct, or in some cases to establish for the first time, an effective indigenous government in a state or territory where no such capacity exists or where the capacity has been seriously eroded. How effective the government needs to be for this purpose is a matter of some debate. In practical, if not tautological terms, it depends on the criteria that are employed to measure effectiveness, and analysts will differ as to the precise requirements. (1) There may be other objectives associated with state building distinct from effectiveness, and often today this is the case. Among these further aims are, notably, the establishment of the rule of law, democratic norms and institutions, and a free-market economy.

Third-party state building, as opposed to indigenous state building, is a relatively recent practice in international relations. It has its earliest contemporary expression in efforts by colonial powers to strengthen the capacity of territories under their jurisdiction in anticipation of the eventual transfer of sovereignty to local authorities. (2) It also has parallels in the U.S.-led Allied occupation and reconstruction of postwar Germany and Japan. (3) Today third-party state building is undertaken as well in response to weak or so-called failed states and, more recently, as part of the international administration of war-torn or strife-ridden territories. Since 1995, there have been four such administrations: the United Nations' interim administrations of Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), Kosovo (UNMIK), and East Timor (UNTAET), and the ad hoc Peace Implementation Council's administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. (By contrast, the current UN operation in Afghanistan [UNAMA] is an assistance mission, although state building is a significant aspect of that mission.)

The distinctive feature of an international territorial administration is both the scope of its interest in the governmental functions of the relevant state or territory and its authority over these functions. Third parties have been active before in areas of governance thought historically to be the exclusive domain of domestic jurisdiction--for instance, as part of "complex" peacekeeping or peacebuilding arrangements that have granted the UN and its representatives intrusive powers, ranging from human rights monitoring and the supervision of elections to the demobilization of armed forces and the reorganization of police forces. (4) Donor states and international financial institutions (IFIs), too, have encroached on traditional sovereign competences through their use of conditioned aid in support of "good governance." (5) Yet, arguably, not since the League of Nations' administration of the Saarland (1920-1935) have third parties, qua international agents, had the power and responsibility of today's international administrations in local executive, legislative, and judicial affairs. (6)

By virtue of its broad scope and authority, international administration is also more political in character than many other field operations. Whether to hold elections, and on what basis; which currency to adopt; whether to consult with local interlocutors, and how widely; whether to promote the reintegration of ethnic communities or to accept de facto division; what role to give women in the reconstructed polity; which curriculum to teach in the schools; whether to allow public ownership of enterprises; what limits, if any, to place on the content of party manifestos--these are all fundamentally political issues. Historically, peace support and other field operations have eschewed overt political engagement; in the context of international administration, such engagement is unavoidable.

International Authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina

One can distinguish the various types of international administration on the basis of the degree of authority that international agents assume in each case. …

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