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The EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Powers, Decisions and Legitimacy

Bart M.J. Szewczyk

Columbia Law School


EUISS Occasional Paper No. 83/2010

The EU’s power, through its control over the Office of the High Representative, to enact laws and remove elected officials in Bosnia is generally legitimate - and paradigmatic of the EU political order based on the concept of liberal international democracy - even though certain decisions and categories of decisions merit criticism. This article discusses the origins of the Bonn Powers and surveys the various criticisms that have been leveled against them. It then develops an overall analysis of all OHR decisions to date and provides a critique of those categories of decisions that appear inconsistent with the Dayton Agreement, which created the contemporary political structure in Bosnia. Moreover, it provides a focused assessment of a sample of the most problematic decisions, e.g. the removal of elected officials. Given the ongoing political problems in Bosnia, the OHR should retain the Bonn Powers, but with restraints, such that they are used only to preserve the peace, promote the democratic process, and protect human rights - objectives justified under the Dayton Agreement.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 60

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Date posted: July 8, 2011 ; Last revised: June 18, 2014

Suggested Citation

Szewczyk, Bart M.J., The EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Powers, Decisions and Legitimacy (2010). EUISS Occasional Paper No. 83/2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1881717

Contact Information

Bart M.J. Szewczyk (Contact Author)
Columbia Law School ( email )
435 West 116th St
New York, NY 10025
United States

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