Bosnia and Herzegovina between Negative and Positive Peace: View from the Local Level

by Zdeněk Kříž, Petr Čermák,

The recent critical standpoint argues that the peace-building process in Bosnia and Herzegovina has not been successful since it has not achieved the state of broadly defined positive peace. According to this widespread opinion, the international peace-building policies have been formulated in terms of negative peace, and rather cemented the division of the country than supported its reintegration. The aim of this paper is to test this argument at the local level of analysis using the conceptual framework of continuum between narrow and wide understanding of peace. Based on interviews with direct actors of the examined processes, we carried out a comparative study within a representative sample of 11 Bosnian municipalities assessing the four alleged divisions that are used as arguments of the critical standpoint. More concretely, we analyze identitary, political, historical and societal division of the society. Our findings confirm, to a large extent, the general patterns assumed by the tested arguments. However, we have also identified positive local developments in all of the respective areas, which question to certain extent the validity of the critical standpoint and give promising prospects for the future. We have also suggested a relation between the state and the local level in some of the discussed problems as negative phenomena, which are proliferating top-down from the state to the local level. Thus, while we have recorded better results in areas independent on higher level developments, results in issues dependent on state-level politics are either directly or indirectly weakened from the top. Overall, we have diagnosed the recorded positive developments on the local level as a potentially promising channel for the international community to bypass the deadlocked state-level politics and give the peace-building process the sorely needed boost from below.

published in Vol 14 – No 2 – 2014 // Peace Building and Development
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