Decentralisation: The New Delusion of Ethnic Conflict Regulation?

Camille A. Monteux

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Through a case analysis of Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia, this paper aims to demonstrate the shortcomings of political decentralisation as
implemented in the pursuance of ethnic conflict regulation in the Western 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 and potentially making the situation worse. In 2004, as the international
community 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 the Kosovo tunnel, the “dialogue” between Pristina and Belgrade has given way to further tensions between Serbs and Albanians. In the cases of Macedonia and Bosnia, the implementation of political decentralisation has been increasingly questionable. Just a few years after the signing of the Ohrid Agreement, the much-acclaimed ethnic conflict settlement reveals unavoidable failures. In the same way, a decade after the settlement of ethnic violence in Bosnia, the Dayton provisions of power decentralisation between the two entities and the different cantons does not appear to have succeeded in taming violence between the protagonists.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Monteux, Camille A. Decentralisation: The New Delusion of Ethnic Conflict Regulation. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2006, vol.8, no.2, pp. 162-182. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

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