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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest


Reconstructing Multiethnic Societies: The Case of Bosnia-Herzegovina
D?emal Sokolović and Florian Bieber (eds.)

Aldershot, Ashgate 2001
234pp. Hb.: ₤39.95; ISBN 0-7546-1485-0.

D?emal Sokolović and Florian Bieber faced a tough editorial challenge with this book - developing a cohesive work on the multi-ethnic reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) when the conference from which the papers would be drawn ? 1998 and 1999?s ?Democracy and Human Rights in Multi-ethnic Societies,? in Konjić, BiH ? had a much wider scope.

In fact, the book also extends beyond BiH. Richard Lewis? paper, ?Lessons from the Belgian Constitution for Multiethnic Societies,? is a case in point. Lewis is correct; close analysis of Belgian society and its constitutional adaptations could be useful for those interested in conflict resolution in BiH and other multiethnic societies. However, he makes little explicit effort to make the linkages to BiH, which is only mentioned in his introduction and in passing as an example of the difficulties when peace agreements are not clear and precise. This is not to take away from Lewis? fine analysis, but only to wonder why it is in this collection. Similarly, Ariyoshi Ogawa?s piece, ?The Building of Civil Society by ?Core? Europe?? only brushes on the case of BiH, while Enida Delalić?s piece focuses on the plight of women refugees from the Republika Srpska in Germany, but fails to connect this to the reconstruction of BiH. Finally, Slobodan Bjelalac?s paper ?Restructuring Regions: The Case of Croatia,? suggests that the new regional structure of Croatia is important for BiH, but makes no attempt to help the reader see why.

Other pieces in this collection are more closely linked to reconstructing a multi-ethnic BiH. Daniel Kofman and Fionnuala Ni Aolain provide interesting insights on the (if possible, overly analyzed) Dayton Peace Agreement. The former defends Bosnia?s, and disputes the Republika Srpska?s, right to self-determination, while the latter examines the shortfalls of Dayton in relation to the restructuring of the legal system. Peter Emerson, Du?an Babić, and Margaret Vandiver offer more concrete looks at how to reconstruct a tolerant, multi-ethnic society in BiH, via the Quota Borda electoral system, media reform, and assisting refugee return in Kozarac, respectively.

Florian Bieber makes a valiant attempt to tie all the papers together in his introductory essay. (Bieber?s piece on the failures of the peace processes in BiH and Kosovo is also one of the better pieces in this collection.) Despite this effort, the collection fails to hold together. Nevertheless, most of the individual pieces are satisfying for those with an interest in BiH or the broader issues of reconstructing multiethnic societies.

L. Kendall Palmer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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