Local Uses of International Criminal Justice in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Transcending Divisions or Building Parallel Worlds?

Studies in Social Justice 7 (2):245-263 (2013)


Transitionaljustice mechanisms and the International Criminal Tribunal for the FormerYugoslavia (ICTY) have had only a limited success in overcoming ethnic divisionsin Bosnia-Herzegovina. Rather than elaborating upon the role of local politicalelites in perpetuating ethnic divisions, we examine ordinary peoples’ popularperceptions of war and its aftermath. In our view, the idea that elites havecomplete control over the broader narratives about the past is misplaced. Weargue that transitional justice and peace mechanisms supported by externalactors are always interpreted on the ground in context-specific ways, creatingdifferent citizens’ experiences, “memories” of the war, and their respectivehopes and disappointments in regards to the relationship between peace andjustice in Bosnia. We suggest that analyses of the post-conflict developments inBosnia-Herzegovina must take into account what gives the narratives ofexclusion their power, and what are the objective political, social andeconomic constraints that continue to provide a fertile ground for theirwidespread support

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