From International to EU-Driven Statebuilding: the Reorganization of Sovereignty in Post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina

Venneri, Giulio (2010) From International to EU-Driven Statebuilding: the Reorganization of Sovereignty in Post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF (PhD Dissertation - Giulio Venneri) - Doctoral Thesis


International statebuilding projects are characterized by a sovereignty paradox: external actors compromise crucial aspects of sovereignty in order to rehabilitate domestic political authorities in the full exercise of their legitimate governing prerogatives. Scholars also posit that an understanding of sovereignty as responsibility provides this paradox with a justification and an ethic. Reflecting on the statebuilding experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), with all of its contradictions and inconsistencies, two questions emerge. Is the sovereignty paradox valid in all statebuilding projects? Do the ideas of sovereignty as a capacity and a responsibility genuinely inform international policy-makers? In the case of BiH, the EU complicates the sovereignty paradox. As a post-nation state organization that ‘educates’ prospective members, Brussels promotes institutional reorganization in a state that is still ‘in-the-making’ with a view to its integration into supranational structures. While containing dispersions of sovereignty and suppressing centripetal forces with the prospect of membership and the activities of its field offices, the EU seeks to prepare autochthon elites to relinquish sovereign prerogatives and join the supra-national Union. Acknowledging this qualitative difference between international statebuilding projects and EU member-statebuilding initiatives, this thesis explores how Brussels both ‘thinks and operates’. Building on the literature on sovereignty and statebuilding, the empirical analysis examines two aspects of the current Bosnian reform agenda: the constitution-making process and police reform. By looking at the specific attitude of EU policy-makers towards the reform process of the Bosnian constitution, this thesis sheds light on a peculiar ‘EU hands-up statebuilding’ approach. The ambiguity of throwing its hands up when called upon to take direct responsibility for political reconciliation and constitutional reform conceals the inherent difficulties for Brussels in resolving two crucial operational dilemmas: bottom-up vs. top-down statebuilding, and technical presence vs. complex post-war stabilization. The account of the reform of the Bosnian police shows that the tendency to throw the hands up in a denial of responsibility for complex political undertakings is combined, to use another powerful metaphor, with a ‘hands-off modus operandi’. The EU promotes its own statebuilding policies by insisting on technical adjustments, attempting a process of statebuilding by induction. Moreover, the EU-sponsored police reform is a case of mismanaged conditionality. This reform was identified in Brussels as an essential pre-requisite for the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), but it ended up provoking Bosnia’s most severe crises in its post-Dayton history. With the credibility of the whole European integration project for BiH at risk, the EU refrained from further confrontation and diluted its most critical demands, allowing local politicians to perform a ‘conquest’ of the reform agenda. This thesis demonstrates that the institutional reconstruction of BiH has been pursued by the EU with a risk-avoidance mentality. Brussels has procrastinated in facilitating a solution to the internal sovereignty struggle and has distanced itself from sharing key political responsibilities in the Bosnian stabilization process, revealing a tendency to ‘technify’ the relationship with local elites. Furthermore, this detached position has allowed the EU to avoid a more open confrontation with the residual influence of the United States in the Bosnian statebuilding project.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:XXI
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali
Repository Staff approval on:16 Jul 2010 09:37

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