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Subject: New ECMI Brief: Constitutional Reform and the 'Spirit' of Bosnia and Herzegovina
ECMI Issue Brief #7 Constitutional Reform and the 'Spirit' of Bosnia and Herzegovina Valery Perry February 2002
Available for download at www.ecmi.de
Critics of the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP, or Dayton Peace Agreement) have been pointing out its inherent flaws and inconsistencies from the moment the terms became public, and the real challenges of implementation quickly became clear. For the past six years there have been calls to revisit, reform, or rewrite Dayton through a variety of suggested procedures. The most aggressive voices for change have suggested convening a meeting to develop a 'Dayton II', which would have as its main goal solidification of the peace, rather than just termination of the war. Instead, a more subtle approach has been in practice since 1997, when the High Representative's powers were strengthened and his mandate effectively widened. Under a more aggressive implementation policy, the GFAP would be implemented not purely according to the letter of the accords, but according to 'the spirit of Dayton'.
Defining this 'spirit' has been controversial and challenging, and the current debate concerning the reform of the Entity Constitutions to comply with the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Constitutional Court's decision on the status and equality of the constituent peoples in BiH will be a significant step in defining both the spirit of Dayton, as well as the spirit and character of BiH as a state. This brief explores this complex issue and its potential implications for local and international politicians in BiH. First, a short background on the Constitutional Court decision is presented. Second, the options currently under discussion are reviewed, within the framework of symmetrical and asymmetrical reform alternatives. Third, the broad relevance of this single issue to the larger issues concerning the legitimacy of the current organization of the state of BiH is considered.
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