Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 11/2013

Strengthening Transitional Justice in Bosnia: Regional Possibilities and Parallel Narratives

Dejan Guzina, Branka Marijan

October 2013

Centre for Military and Strategic Studies


To this day, the media refer to the July 1995 attack on UN "safe area" Srebrenica as a lesson that should never be repeated - a topic that has re-emerged in light of current debates within the international community about what types of intervention should be used to stop further violence. Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnia) lacks a widely supported strategy for transitional justice. In this policy brief, Dejan Guzina and Branka Marijan recommend that Bosnia's state-level strategy be strengthened with thicker regional cooperation, and the implementation of a regional strategy involving the European Union and other UN organizations. The authors note that different ethnic groups' competing versions of the past conflict - "parallel narratives" - pose a formidable challenge to the development of transitional justice initiatives. These challenges can be overcome by political acknowledgement of the crimes and truth-telling initiatives through the education system, but the authors warn that the window of opportunity to right the wrongs is closing - if divisive narratives continue to shape local perceptions, Bosnia's situation is unlikely to improve and may, in fact, deteriorate.