Elusive Reform and the New International Engagement

Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


The failure of constitutional reform in 2006 coincided with the beginning of a revised international strategy in Bosnia defined by the new High Representative (HR) Christian Schwarz-Schilling’s relinquishment of the Bonn Powers. The international community at this time was determined to initiate a transition from international trusteeship to local ownership (in the context of a strengthened but ill-defined EU presence in Bosnia). As Schwarz-Schilling suggested at the beginning of his term, he wanted to avoid using the Bonn Powers in order to oversee the transition to local ownership and “herald the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s relationship with the wider world.” In his “100 first days” speech, Schwarz-Schilling further reiterated, “we will not run this country for you. … [Nothing] will deter me from maintaining a hands-off approach.”1 This approach was validated in June 2006 when the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) announced the closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) by June 2007. It is reasonable to assume that the PIC members believed that by announcing the closure of the OHR in advance, local parties would feel compelled to engage more fully in the reform process and move rapidly towards EU and NATO membership.2 Unfortunately this strategy failed to meet its objectives, and Schwarz-Schilling’s laissez-faire approach ultimately served to undermine the OHR’s leadership during one of the most unstable political periods in post-conflict Bosnia.


Reform Process Party Leader Political Trust Constitutional Reform Constitutional Change 
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© Sofía Sebastián-Aparicio 2014

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