Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Building a Common State Army Forces in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina: Assessing Its Peace-Building Perspective

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Building a Common State Army Forces in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina: Assessing Its Peace-Building Perspective

Article excerpt


When the war in Bosnia ended in December 1995 with the Dayton Agreement, the armed forces in the country were divided along the ethnic lines. However, in 2005 the country's politicians agreed on defence reforms that led to merging former rival armed forces into a unified army of BiH as a condition for Bosnia to join NATO. Thus, today unified BiH army is making small but significant contributions towards security maintenance both at national and global level. In order to explain efforts of Bosnian politicians to bring the country into the Euro-Atlantic structures and send their troops into multi-national missions we have used the security community theory coined by Karl Deutsch. Thus, NATO-related reforms have strengthened security and peace-building attempts among the former warring ethnic groups. Also, the country's participation in multi-national peace missions abroad has been a crucial commitment to the world security and peace. Thus, today as a NATO aspirant Bosnia has practically become a country that exports security.

Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian Common Army, NATO, Euro-Atlantic integration, Peace-building, Security, Multi-national peace operations.

Creating a unified state army

In the early 1990s the whole world was shocked as bloody conflicts broke up in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, first in Slovenia and Croatia and then in 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter, Bosnia or BiH) in 1 9921995 the three ethnic groups in the country fought each other supported by predominantly ethnically-populated armed forces. Although a horrible three-year war came to end in December 1995 with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), the separate armed forces continued to exist functioning in their previous form gathering the young people from the ethnic groups respectively. In fact, DPA established the Constitution of BiH that supposes division of the country into two Entities: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of BiH (controlled by the Bosniaks and Croats), and the Republika Srpska that is governed by the Serbs (Soberg, 2008). In the same manner, military remained divided along the ethnic lines.

That is, the Dayton Agreement states that the defence issue is not expressly noted as a function of the state (Perry, 2003). Thus, it created separate armed forces, BosniakCroat, Army of the Federation of BiH and the Bosnian Serb, Army of Republika Srpska. Thus, after Dayton separate armed forces operated in the country spreading their ethnic objectives from the previous war only now through different means. To put it simply, separate ethnic armies had further increased an existing process of ethno-nationalization and ethnic distrust playing a disintegrative role within the society rather than integrating war-torn communities through educative and training programs. That is, predominantly ethnic-populated armed forces had played a considerable political role in the process of indoctrination of their ethnic population within the country. The existence of monoethnic armed forces both prevented integration of ethnic groups inside the country and the country's integration into Euro-Atlantic organizations.

However, as the country was striving to carry out Euro-Atlantic reforms the idea of common state armed forces has slowly emerged. Thus, in September 2003 the representatives from all three ethnic groups have agreed to establish a state defence ministry and unified military command (Hawton, 2003). Further, in December 2004 strong pressure from the international community resulted in the formation of an independent commission for defence reform which called for a set-up of a single armed force at state level. In fact, a single army was a condition for Bosnia to join NATO. Thus, in 2005 the Bosnian politicians agreed to defence and security reforms that would eventually merge the formerly rival armed forces into an integrated and unified army. …

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