In his November 27 televised speech explaining his rationale for sending United States troops into the Balkans, President Bill Clinton said his goal is “preserving Bosnia as a single state.” Testifying three days later before the House National Security Committee, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said “only with peace does Bosnia have the chance to exist as a single state. Only with peace does it have a chance to build a multi-ethnic democracy.” These sentiments reveal that the administration has an agenda larger than peace. Bosnia is to be an experimental laboratory for every liberal notion of “new world” nation-building that the fertile imaginations in the State Department can concoct.
Critics have focused on the contradictions within the Dayton Accord which, while speaking of the “sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia” also partitions the country into two “Entities” (a Muslim-Croat Federation and a Serbian Republic) with three armies (“The Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croat Defense Council Forces and the Army of the Republika Srpska”). Each Entity will have its own citizens, parliament, and president. The two Entities will be separated by a four-kilometer- wide demilitarized “Inter-Entity Boundary” patrolled by the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR).
For a central government to exercise its “sovereignty” throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina would require projecting power across this boundary in a way that would surely reignite a war whose origins lay in the unwillingness of the Serbs (and to a lesser extent the Croats) to live under a Muslim-led regime. There has been concern expressed in Congress that if Clinton pursues a “single state” Bosnian strategy, American troops would be caught in just such a renewed struggle—and, indeed, might even spearhead it.
A close look at the Dayton Accord reveals, however, that the chances of a central Bosnian state emerging to carry out any kind of concerted policy is quite slim. The liberal “New World Order” structure imposed on Sarajevo by the Clinton administration renders any rhetoric about sovereignty and independence moot. The Bosnian “state” has all but disappeared. Where once its existence was threatened by advancing Serbian troops, it has now been rendered incompetent by a constitutional structure that would bewilder Lani Guinier. The remnants are then absorbed by international organizations and foreign bureaucrats. The poor, suffering Bosnians faced a more honorable fate in open combat.
The Dayton Accord included a new constitution for Bosnia and Herzegovina, designated as Annex 4. The preamble does not declare for a “more perfect union.” Instead, it is “Guided by the Purposes and Principles of the charter of the United Nations” and “Inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, as well as other human rights instruments.” Attached at the end of the constitution is a list of 15 of these other human rights instruments, including the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Article I proclaims that Bosnia and Herzegovina “shall remain a Member State of the United Nations.” National sovereignty is surrendered in Article II, where it is declared that “The rights and freedoms set forth in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols shall apply directly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These shall have priority over all other law.” Article III reiterates this theme by stating that “the general principles of international law shall be an integral part of the law of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Entities.”
Article II also contains an “Enumeration of Rights,” which includes the usual safeguards for free expression, religion, property, movement, association, and fair trials; and against slavery, torture, and inhumane punishment. However, it also guarantees a right to “education,” “to marry and found a family,” and to “private and family life, home and correspondence.” Article X prohibits any amendment of Article II.
There is a bicameral Parliamentary Assembly. The House of People has 15 members and the House of Representatives has 42. Each house is divided into three equal shares based on ethnicity. Muslim and Croat members will come from the Federation, Serbs from the Republika Srpska. Delegates to the House of People are selected by the Entity parliaments as U.S. Senators were once selected by state legislatures. Members of the House of Representatives are elected by popular vote by ethnic constituencies. The chair of each house will rotate among leaders of the three ethnic groups.
Decisions in both houses will be made by majority vote, as long as the dissenting votes do not include two-thirds or more of the members from any one of the ethnic groups. Thus the members from the Muslim-Croat Federation, who will hold two-thirds of the seats, cannot impose their will unless they gain the votes of at least one-third of the Serbian members. The same would hold true for any other alliance. Also, a majority of any ethnic delegation can declare a decision “destructive to the vital interest” of its group. This triggers the creation of a Joint Commission to negotiate a compromise. If negotiations fail after five days, the issue is referred to the Constitutional Court.
The tripartite presidency works in a similar fashion. The presidency “shall endeavor to adopt all Presidency Decisions by consensus.” If consensus proves impossible, decisions can be made by any two of the three leaders. However, the dissenting member of the presidency can then declare the decision “destructive of a vital interest” of his Entity, and if a two-thirds vote of his home Entity’s parliament confirms his objection, the presidency decision cannot take effect.
These elaborate procedures to protect each ethnic group from the others gives grim testimony to the complete lack of trust among the factions and absence of any common national feelings on which to base a “single state” version of Bosnia. The resulting gridlock will work to the advantage of the intentional organizations and foreign officials who will end up running Bosnia on a day-to-day basis.
The Constitutional Court, to which disputes in the Parliament are to be referred, is a perfect example of Bosnia’s loss of sovereignty. The court will have nine justices, limited to one five-year term. Two judges will come from each ethnic group (chosen by the Entity parliaments) and the other three will be appointed by the president of the European Court of Human Rights. These last three, who will hold the balance of power and can form a majority with any one of the three Bosnian ethnic groups, cannot be citizens of Bosnia or any of the surrounding countries. Thus, Bosnia’s highest court, which will also hear appeals from the domestic legal system and interpret all constitutional issues, will be dominated by foreign judges. At the end of five years, the Parliament can pass a law to change how the three seats initially held by foreign judges will be filled in the future. If, however, such a law became a victim of gridlock, the foreign domination would continue.
Constitutional issues can be sent to the Constitutional Court by a Member of the Presidency, by the Chair of the Council of Ministers, by the Chair or Deputy Chair of either chamber of the Parliament, by one-fourth of the members of either chamber of the Parliament, or by one-fourth of the members of either Entity parliament. Among the issues specified for judicial review is any decision by either Entity to “establish a special parallel relationship with a neighboring state.” That is, for the Bosnian Serbs and Croats to move toward union with Serbia or Croatia. The outcome of such a review would hinge not only on internal politics but on the diplomatic considerations of the European judges.
A Central Bank is also established by the Constitution, its responsibilities to be set by the Parliament. However, for the first six years, the governor of the bank will be an appointee of the International Monetary Fund who cannot be a citizen of Bosnia or any surrounding state. There will also be one member on the Governing Board from each ethnic group. During the first six years, the bank “may not extend credit by creating money,” a prohibition that is consistent with the IMF’s propensity for austerity policies.
Annex Six of the Dayton Accord establishes a Commission on Human Rights and gives it a mandate to enforce the rights listed under Article II of the Constitution, which are repeated in the annex. This mandate is extremely broad, running to the consideration of “alleged or apparent violations of human rights as provided in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Protocols thereto” and “alleged or apparent discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status arising in the enjoyment of any of the rights and freedoms provided for in the international agreements listed in the Appendix.”
The Human Rights Commission has two organs. The Ombudsman will conduct investigations, issue reports and recommendations, and refer cases to the Human Rights Chamber for judgment and remedies. For the first five years, the Ombudsman and the Chamber will be dominated by foreigners. The Ombudsman will be appointed by the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and may not be a citizen of Bosnia or any surrounding state. The Chamber will have 14 members: two from each Bosnian ethnic group and the remaining eight by appointment by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. This European-appointed majority cannot be citizens of Bosnia or any surrounding state. After the five-year transition period, the Ombudsman and Chamber members will all be appointed by the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Human Rights Commission will have the powers of the Inquisition. The Ombudsman “shall have access to and may examine all official documents, including classified ones, as well as judicial and administrative files, and can require any person, including a government official, to cooperate by providing relevant information, documents and files.” A party “identified as violating any human rights shall, within a specified period, explain in writing how it will comply with the conclusions” of the Ombudsman. In the event that “a person or entity does not comply with his or her conclusions and recommendations,” the Ombudsman can forward a report to the High Representative; that is, to the person who will serve as the U.N. Security Council’s colonial governor of Bosnia (despite Clinton’s claims that IFOR is a NATO operation, Article VI of Annex 1-A seeks to justify intervention under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, as were the other “peace enforcement” operations in Somalia and Haiti).
The High Representative is “the final authority in theater” regarding the interpretation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Accord. He will monitor the peace settlement; promote compliance by the Entities and coordinate the activities of all civilian organizations and agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative will also chair the Joint Civilian Commission, which will include representatives from the Bosnian government, the Entities, the IFOR commander, and “those civilian organizations and agencies the High Representative deems necessary.” This will be the real government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representatives can even set up local versions of the Joint Civilian Commission anywhere in Bosnia and establish other commissions as needed to “facilitate the execution of his or her mandate.”
The High Representative will give “guidance” to the U.N. International Police Task Force (UNIPTF), which in turn will advise, train, monitor, and inspect all law enforcement activities and facilities, including associated judicial organizations in Bosnia and the Entities. Bosnia and the Entities will “upon request by the UNIPTF . . . make available for training qualified personnel.” Any failure to cooperate with the UNIPTF or to obstruct its operation will result in a complaint to the High Representative and the IFOR commander.
IFOR is the muscle behind any policies pursued by the civilian administrators. The greatest danger of renewed war will come from any concerted movement of refugees across the partition lines to reclaim lost territory. The possible use of refugees as a tool to expand the domain of the Bosnian regime was raised by Bosnian Ambassador-at-Large Muhamed Sacirbey at Brown University on November 30. “It is not a just peace,” said the ambassador. “We don’t want to be divided. . . . We don’t want paper with signatures, we want . . . freedom of movement and the right to return to home villages.” It is well known that such a “peaceful” invasion would be resisted. Refugees are unlikely to cross the lines without armed escorts, but neither the Muslim-Croat Federation nor the Serb Republic have the strength to carry out such an expansionist policy.
But the international regime in Bosnia does have the power and the ideological commitment to multiethnic integration. Annex 1-A, Article VI gives IFOR the mission “to observe and prevent interference with the movement of civilian populations, refugees, and displaced persons, and to respond appropriately to deliberate violence to life and person.” Annex Seven gives refugees and displaced persons “the right freely to return to their homes or origin. They shall have the right to have restored to them property of which they were deprived in the course of hostilities since 1991 and to be compensated for any property that cannot be restored to them.” A Commission for Displaced Persons and Refugees will supervise this process and rule on the validity of claims. This commission will have nine members, two from each ethnic group, and the remaining three (including the chairman) appointed by the European Court of Human Rights.
With the constitution, police, central bank, refugees, and “human rights” in the hands of foreign officials for the rest of the century, Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be considered a “state” in any meaningful sense. It has been turned into an international protectorate at best, a laboratory for liberal political and social experimentation at worst. A one-year commitment of IFOR troops will not suffice to keep this intrusive regime in place for the five- or six-year transition period envisioned in the Dayton Accord. The constitutional gridlock imposed on Bosnian institutions would normally result in the strengthening of the Entities as the only effective governments. However, the foreign authorities are not constrained by any constitutional checks and balances, nor by the workings of democracy for that matter, despite the rhetorical emphasis being placed on preparing Bosnia and the Entities for free elections.
This is a much broader and deeper commitment than the American people realize. It runs far beyond mere “peacekeeping.” It is nothing less than the total, systematic restructuring of Bosnian society in accord with liberal-utopian values that have little chance of taking root. This is a full-blown expression of the “enlargement” of American foreign policy, which had been the hallmark of the Clinton administration. The case for the massive reconstruction of war-torn societies was set out by Anthony Lake long before he became National Security Advisor. The expense will be enormous in terms of foreign assistance on top of the costs of the military deployment. As Lake argued in a 1990 monograph for the Overseas Development Council, “it is safe to say that the needs of these societies . . . will outstrip the available assistance. This should not be so. As many have argued, enhanced foreign aid programs would take up only a very small share of expected peace dividends in the United States and other donor nations.” He then went on to urge that “the response of the United States, and others, should not be based only on a narrow definition of national interest.” Administration officials have looked far and wide for somewhere to implement these notions. Bosnia is their new laboratory, providing a larger scope for experimentation than either Somalia or Haiti.
The American public has not been treated to a very deep discussion of the broader issues. Debate has not moved much beyond the question of whether Bosnia is worth the cost of the purely military intervention on which the media have concentrated. Clinton’s lackluster trip to Bosnia failed to spark renewed discussion of American policy. Indeed, the trip’s very lack of substance seemed calculated to reinforce the administration’s claim that the mission is of limited scope and duration.
Yet, if the public is unconvinced of the wisdom of even the minimalist view of the operation which has been presented to them, they will find the full implementation of the Dayton Accord hard to swallow. This larger agenda, with its many dangers of confrontation and prolonged involvement, is only slowly coming into view. If mission creep is not to break into full gallop, tight oversight by Congress and concerned outside groups will have to be exercised in the months ahead.
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