›  Du consocialisme daytonien à la démocratie centrifuge : Echec de la communauté internationale en Bosnie-Herzégovine?

Du consocialisme daytonien à la démocratie centrifuge : Echec de la communauté internationale en Bosnie-Herzégovine?

  • Pepic Ivan (M.A. Student and PhD candidate – Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva)


The main hypothesis is that BiH should rediscover consociational power-sharing instead of centripetalism if the goal is struggle non-functional centrifugal democracy. The proposal is divided in four parts: (1) the power-sharing constitution, (2) centripetal changes, (3) negative centrifugal effects and (4) conclusion.

(1) The Dayton Agreement in 1995 has constructed Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as a confederation sui generis of two entities, the Republika Srpska (Serbs) and the Federation BiH (Bosniaks and Croats). It was in harmony with the consociational theory.

The Dayton Agreement created the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR). Originally, OHR’s goals were monitoring the peace agreement and the stability of political institution. However, in December 1997 the OHR received more powers (Bonn Powers) that enable the High Representative to adopt decisions when authorities seem unwilling and remove public officials who violate the law.

(2) Scholars agree that the International Community, the OHR and the OSCE, during the 2000s changed their approach, from consociationalism to centripetalism. The Dayton Agreement established only three ministries on the national level. After OHR’s interventions in 2000 and 2004 BiH has reached nine ministries. In 2003 the OHR instituted the Court of BiH, in 2004 the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and in 2005 the Armed Forces of BiH. The Electoral Law was changed in 2002 in favor of centrist, “multiethnic” and moderate parties’ coalitions and against nationalists.

(3) However, instead of generating compromises based on centripetal institutions, BiH made a U-turn towards centrifugal tendencies. The escalation of separatist tendencies in Republika Srpska culminated in the unconstitutional referendum on the Official Day of Republika Srpska, held on 25 September 2016. In the entity Federation BiH Bosniaks and Croats do not agree on the Electoral Law, creating a sort of “cyprusization” of the Federation BiH.

In conclusion, the failure of centripetal approach is confirmed by Bosnian general elections in 2014 and Municipal elections in 2016. The three constitutive peoples elected nationalist parties with same results such as during the 1990s. At the moment in BiH exist three public opinions in conflict which are escalating in a centrifugal and non-functional democracy.