Bosnian constitutional reform - Waiting for a miracle

3 February 2004

Since ESI released its proposal for a process of constitutional change in Bosnia and Herzegovina three weeks ago, a lively public debate has emerged. The reactions have not divided along traditional ethnic lines, with supporters and critics appearing on all sides. Most importantly, there has been an immediate reaction from the very politicians in Bosnia who alone would be able to initiate a process of constitutional change. Within two weeks, a proposal to turn Bosnia and Herzegovina into a three-layered Federation was being prepared for debate in the Federation parliament.

This discussion paper offers an overview of the debate so far and some reflections on where it might be heading. What is obvious is that any serious domestic reform effort will require intense and complex negotiations between domestic political actors, first inside the Federation and then between the Federation and Republika Srpska.

ESI also argues that those who refuse the principle of incremental and consensual change without offering an alternative that could be implemented are practically supporting the status quo. In politics, nothing is more conservative than to wait for a miracle.

Best regards,

Your ESI team

Gerald Knaus