Focusing on conflict legacy, this article contributes to the study of domestic mediating conditions as an explanation of “shallow Europeanisation” in the Western Balkans, defined as a disconnect between European rules and local practices. It critiques the prevalent neo-Weberian understanding of state capacity, which highlights rule-enforcement capability of state institutions, but reduces conflict legacy to a question of resources. The article argues that a relational approach to state capacity which attributes its strength to enduring ties among state and non-state actors better captures the challenge to European Union (EU)-driven domestic transformation in a post-conflict context. A case study of the Hercegovina Holding is used to unravel a Bosnian Croat network originating during the 1992–1995 Bosnian war. The empirical evidence of the network’s operation illustrates how key EU benchmarks for private sector development can be undermined, making a case for a more rigorous conceptualisation of conflict legacy as a domestic constraint on the EU’s leverage.
Legitimacy is recognized as critical to the success of international administrations in their efforts to build and promote peace, stability and welfare in post-conflict territories. Nonetheless, scholarship on statebuilding is dominated by the managerial approach, which offers a top-down analysis of policies by international actors and their impact on local constituencies. With its focus on the grass roots, the individual and a multiplicity of concerns, a human security perspective on international administration can identify and address their legitimacy gap, resulting in strategies for more effective conflict resolution. The argument is illustrated by analysis of the Ahtisaari process and plan for Kosovo’s final status.