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Local Institutional Engineering: A Tale of Two Cities, Mostar and Brčko

By Florian Bieber


The essay examines different international approaches to ‘reuniting’ ethnically-divided cities in post-war Bosnia (BiH), based on the examples of Brcko and Mostar. While Mostar was governed by a high degree of formal power-sharing and the separate administration of ethnically homogenous municipalities, until the imposed unification in early 2004, Brcko was created as a united discrete district which has been administered by a low degree of formal power-sharing. Through case studies of these two cities, mechanisms of multiethnic governance at the local level will be examined and related to the larger system of consociationalism and international governance in BiH. From this experience, it is suggested here that that less formal systems of power-sharing, as instituted in Brcko, has been more successful than the complex consociationalism and territorial fragmentation of post-war Mostar. It is also argued that institution-building prior to elections, as has been the case in Brcko, has resulted in greater stability and more integration than in Mostar where the reverse sequence was followed. The findings here further suggest that institutional design at the local level can have a significant impact on inter-ethnic relations in deeply divided societies, such as BiH

Topics: JS
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2005
OAI identifier:

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