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Decentralisation: The New Delusion of Ethnic Conflict Regulation?

Author(s): Camille A. Monteux

Journal: International Journal of Multicultural Societies
ISSN 1817-4574

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 162;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: political decentralisation | Western Balkans | ethnic conflict

Through a case analysis of Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia, this paperaims to demonstrate the shortcomings of political decentralisation asimplemented in the pursuance of ethnic conflict regulation in theWestern Balkans. Indeed, decentralisation seems to have become a“one size fits all” device by the international community to “freeze”ethnic conflicts and to escape their responsibility in dealing with the sources of the conflict, in effect allowing tensions to brew andpotentially making the situation worse. In 2004, as the internationalcommunity was under increasing pressure to make a decision regarding the final status of Kosovo, talks on decentralisation were restarted. However, far from switching on the light at the end of theKosovo tunnel, the “dialogue” between Pristina and Belgrade hasgiven way to further tensions between Serbs and Albanians. In thecases of Macedonia and Bosnia, the implementation of politicaldecentralisation has been increasingly questionable. Just a few yearsafter the signing of the Ohrid Agreement, the much-acclaimed ethnicconflict settlement reveals unavoidable failures. In the same way, adecade after the settlement of ethnic violence in Bosnia, the Daytonprovisions of power decentralisation between the two entities and thedifferent cantons does not appear to have succeeded in tamingviolence between the protagonists.

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