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New Series no.11/12 August - November 1999
Editorial: Beyond Dayton

Four years after Dayton there is growing recognition (as many of the articles published here show) that the intrinsic flaws and contradictions of the imposed settlement, combined with the intransigence of local nationalist power blocs and the unwillingness of the occupation forces seriously to challenge these (indeed their fundamental reliance upon and complicity with them), have produced a state incapable of functioning. Or rather a country incapable of functioning because it is not a state at all, either in the classic Weberian terms of monopolizing the means of legitimate violence or in most other respects.

Hitherto the idea of rewriting Dayton has been virtually taboo outside Bosnia, confined to proponents of outright partition. But the International Herald Tribune recently (20 November) published an opüed, inspired by the ICG report summarized here on p.5 but taking it to more radical conclusions, which challenged the taboo. Significantly the author was Mark Thompson, who not merely has from the outset supported the cause of an integral and democratic BosniaüHerzegovina, but also has himself spent four years in the region working for the UN and the OSCE. `The solution', he wrote, `lies in treating Dayton as a cease-fire and replacing the doomed recipe of ``one state, two entities and three peoples'' with a constitutional settlement that emphasizes civic principles instead of ethnic categories. The powers in the Peace Implementation Council and NATO should pronounce Dayton unworkable, impose a temporary protectorate and dissolve the Serbian and Muslim-Croatian entities along with most of the dual and tripartite structures.'

This debate, of course, is only just beginning. On the one hand there is the unviability – social, economic, political, cultural, military – of the present situation; even so central a figure in the Sarajevo establishment as General Rasim DeliÒ was conceding recently in Dani (26 November) that today's B-H is far from being the country for which Bosnians fought. On the other hand, there is a certain implausibility in seeing as the solution a protectorate by the very outside powers that are co-responsible for the existing state of affairs. But however that may be, the prospect of change in Croatia and the current diminution in Serbia's capacity for interference constitute propitious circumstances for the new recognition within Bosnia-Herzegovina itself that Dayton is not for ever.

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