Security Sector Reform: The Building of Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina

This article addresses the issue of Security Sector Reform (SSR) in Bosnia and examines whether the reform of security structures has enhanced security of Bosnia as a whole. The experience of recent armed conflict, and fragmentation and ethnicization of security structures have created special challenges for SSR in Bosnia. Transformation of the security sector in Bosnia is made even more complicated by the plethora of international actors involved in the process. The article argues that, despite the complexity of the task, SSR has produced some notable results, particularly in redressing the balance of power between the state and entities in the spheres of defence, policing and intelligence. However, while some of the SSR initiatives appear to be very successful in their main objective, they have inadvertently created some new security risks and/or displaced problems into another area. Thus, the question remains whether Bosnia’s security has been enhanced in the process. The article identifies two main obstacles which block further progress in the building of security in Bosnia: first, the lack of local ownership of SSR, and second, the Dayton constitutional arrangements. The article concludes that until these two fundamental issues are effectively addressed Bosnia will remain a weak, marginalized country filled with insecurity, divisions and adversity.

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