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2010 | Roos et al., Commentary on the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina

This comprehensive document discusses the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in great detail. Tthe authors begin by reviewing the genesis and legitimacy of the Constitution (pp. 19-32). It has been claimed that the Constitution is undemocratic, contrary to international law and unsuitable in practice. However, as the authors point out, due to the circumstances (a stage of armed conflict) the demand for a perfect 'textbook' constitution was unrealistic. The authors do not deny that the Constitution came into being contrary to the procedures stipulated under the old constitution, but point out that it was nevertheless approved by representatives of the largest part of the population. The authors then discuss the legitimacy of the Constitution in the light of the secession of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its constitution.   

Of particular interest is section B of the Introduction (pp. 21-24) which discusses the problems of implementing the Constitution in the post-war period. Here the authors point to the strain placed on the state’s treasury by the needs of victims of the conflict, the political climate full of obstructions and inconsideration, and to a culture and civil society of which human rights have not been central tenet. Moreover, a police corps and judiciary still marked by ethnic loyalties, a weak pluralist media and ongoing political tensions in neighbouring countries all contribute to a climate that is unfavourable to the full implementation of the new Constitution. According to the authors one of the greatest obstacles for stabilisation is the lack of preparedness for consensus, since two of the three ethnic groups are trying to prove that the state is dysfunctional. The authors also point out that the engagement of the international community has not facilitated the implementation process because their efforts have been uncoordinated and unharmonised.