Piercing the Tattered Veil: Housing Restitution in Bosnia as a Case Study of Researching Human Rights with the Help of International Relations Theory
16 Pages Posted: 19 May 2008
Date Written: March 31, 2007
The post-conflict state - a state in the process of transition from violent conflict towards peace - is a particularly suitable legal guinea-pig to assess the challenges posed to traditional international law. In many respects, the post-conflict state offers an extrapolated microcosm of more general trends in international law: receding sovereignty, proliferation of actors and institutions, and increased emphasis on the rule of law and human rights as core ethical values of the system of international law.
This paper will seek to explore how human rights can regain their effectiveness in such a post-conflict state by way of a case study: the implementation of the human right to housing restitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as included in the Dayton Peace Agreement. The paper will use a theory from the field of international relations (IR) as a prism to look at the issue. This theory supposes that the effective implementation of an international norm is only possible when three factors are present: a sufficiently developed legal concept, a supportive structure or framework, and the will or consensus of the relevant actors to use the norm. This approach enables a dynamic description of the implementation of the right to housing restitution in post-conflict Bosnia over time and goes beyond traditional analyses that focus merely on the interpretation of rights and the description of the (judicial) mechanisms through which this happens. The insights from this IR method offer a possibility to look at the context in which a norm is implemented.
Keywords: post-conflict, human rights, housing restitution, Bosnia, effectiveness, methodology
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