Home Political science After Ethnic Conflict : Policy-making in Post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia
IV Continuing Challenges: Persisting Ethnic tensions
Police Reform in Bosnia: Ethnicity above Efficiency
This chapter traces the progress of police reforms in post-conflict Bosnia. It investigates the factors behind the resistance to, and the failure of, police reform. After the initial stages of stabilisation and post-conflict recovery in Bosnia were completed by 2001, reforms started in the area of security, including police reform. Although between 2002 and 2004 the government successfully negotiated reforms of the military in a bid to join NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, police reforms followed a less accommodating path. Despite repeated negotiations, external pressure and conditionality for progress on EU integration, the political leaders failed to find an acceptable model for reforming the police. By 2008, despite the lack of progress with police reform as the main requirement, the EU ratified the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia.
The findings suggest that in the case of failed police reform, other than the various veto mechanisms available to each group and entity, power-sharing elements appear to have had limited impact on ethnic accommodation. Weak central government and the lack of entity-level executive coalitions made accommodation across the three ethnic groups difficult and encouraged nationalist politics. Extensive functional and territorial autonomy for the entities made politicians defensive of their entity competencies. They remain sceptical to any reform entailing transfer of competencies to state level, especially in the RS. Finally, the failed attempts to reform the police also point to the limits of external influence over domestic political elites.
Police in Post-conflict Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina
As discussed in earlier chapters, the ethnic conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina led to an almost complete failure of the state to provide security to its citizens. State institutions inherited from Yugoslavia, including the police as the main law enforcement and public safety body, lost the capacity to fulfil their constitutional mandates. The police could not provide public safety and rule of law. Rather, they became a tool often used for ethnic intimidation and violence during the conflict, taking a role completely opposed to police's legal purpose. Therefore, it was not surprising that the local police, or rather the separate police forces controlled by
severely damaged during the war.
However, this process was not smooth and was continuously contested by domestic political elites from all sides along with members of the police forces who have had their licenses revoked.3 Police remained a contentious issue throughout the first few years after the conflict and despite their limited powers politicians still vied to keep the local police under their control, as a useful political and security tool in the unstable political context in the country.
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