Beyond Dayton in Bosnia: Challenges of International Withdrawal

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
12:00pm - 1:30pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room 1219, International Affairs Building

Please join the School of International and Public Affairs, the Harriman Institute, the European Institute and the East Central European Center of Columbia University in welcoming Sophia Sebastian of the London School of Economics and FRIDE, Madrid.

On May 14th a new crisis emerged in Bosnia when SNSD Leader Milorad Dodik managed to pass a resolution in the Republika Srpska National Assembly designed to undermine some of the key accomplishments of the state building process that had been in place since the end of the war in 1995. Although the crisis was eventually averted on June 20, it demonstrated, yet again, the highly volatile nature of Bosnian politics and the inherent challenges faced by an international community that has grown impatient, frustrated, and is oblivious as to how to resolve the Bosnian quagmire. The country continues to show no clear signs of political reconciliation and there is a lack of commitment to the process of EU accession.

Pressure from the international community for the reform of Dayton have increased in the past few years in the belief that a simpler institutional arrangement will give the state the required institutional capacity to comply with the EU accession process. All of the external efforts on constitutional reform, however, have failed thus far; mostly as a result of local ethnic power games. In this presentation Sofia Sebastian will discuss the recent dynamics involved in constitutional reform in Bosnia and explore the degree to which constitutional changes may serve as the means to resolve the political deadlock in this multi-ethnic country.

Sofia Sebastian is a non-resident Associate Fellow at the Madrid-based think tank FRIDE. She has recently received her doctorate from the London School of Economics with a dissertation entitled, State Building in Deeply Divided Societies: Beyond Dayton in Bosnia.