21 November 2023

Why are illiberal monuments legally possible? Some insights from Bosnia and Herzegovina

After unveiling a monument to the genocide denier Peter Handke a few years ago, local authorities in Banja Luka – the largest city of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity – are now building a massive monument to the soldiers of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) who died in the war of 1992–95. The memorial site in Banja Luka is not the first dedicated to the VRS. On the contrary, it follows the example of other towns and municipalities in the Serb-dominated areas. Together, they form an illiberal politics of remembrance developed by Bosnia, and especially Republika Srpska, since the end of the war in the 1990s. This memory politics is marked by the denial of war atrocities and the glorification of war criminals. The ongoing construction of the monument in Banja Luka shows that, almost thirty years after the conflict, there is a need to establish a new and comprehensive legal framework for memorialization in Bosnia. In essence, memorialization should be aligned with human rights and enable the development of a democratic culture. To achieve this twofold goal, constitutional and legislative reforms are needed.

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21 November 2020

Time for Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina

On November 21, 2020, the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), turns 25. Just a few days before, on November 15, Bosnian citizens were called to renew the municipal councils across the country. The poor management of the pandemic exacerbated the already high level of corruption and the recurring stalemate in political institutions, and Bosnian voters in major cities used the local elections to express all their discontent with the political conduct of the ruling parties. It is clear today that the system put in place by the DPA 25 years ago is not a sustainable solution.

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13 April 2019

Special Edition: South of the Border

On one of the world's most rotten constitutions and other things we learned travelling in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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12 October 2018

The Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Means for Change or Consolidation of Paralysis?

On October 7th, general elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its Constitution was meant to be an interim solution, setting up a complex structure of division of power between the three major ethnic groups leading to political paralysis. Constitutional reform is thus a pressing issue but the recent elections appear to reinforce the deadlock situation instead of paving the way for much needed change.

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12 October 2017

Catalonia and Spain: A View from the Future Past

I am not suggesting Spain and Catalonia are headed for the same result as Yugoslavia and its republics. The conditions necessary for such a confrontation are simply not present. At the same time, the similarities do suggest danger of further escalation, with the possibility of unrest that should be taken seriously.

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01 December 2015

The Unconstitutional Holiday: Bosnian Constitutional Court annuls Serb Republic Day

Can a national holiday celebrated by a federal sub-entity be in violation of constitutional principles? In a system as fragmented as Bosnia-Herzegovina, apparently it can – according to a recent judgment by the Bosnian Constitutional Court which puts its own acceptance among Bosnian Serbs at risk. The decision, as heart-wrenchingly Bosnian as it may be, raises issues that concern all multicultural societies.

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15 July 2014

Bosnien und die Schwierigkeit, verallgemeinerbare Maßstäbe des Menschenrechtsschutzes zu schaffen

Seit fünf Jahren stemmt sich Bosnien dagegen, seine Verfassung den Vorgaben der EMRK anzupassen und auch Nicht-Bosniaken, -Serben und -Kroaten für die zweite Kammer und die Präsidentschaft wählbar zu machen. Jetzt hat der EGMR Bosnien erneut verurteilt. Doch was, wenn man seine Maßstäbe auf die Verfassung der Europäischen Union anwendet?

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