In October 2009, the European Union, in conjunction with the United States, launched a high-level mediation effort in Butmir, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to reform the political structure of the state. Since 2005, the constitution which was included in the Dayton Peace Accord has been widely perceived as dysfunctional. In two negotiation rounds, the EU and the US put a comprehensive proposal on the table and showed strong leverage. However, the talks ended without a tangible result. To explain this failure, a theoretical model is developed based on both mediation and Europeanization literature to explore mediation by conditionality as a type of ‘directive mediation’ in a systematic way. Contrary to the argument that the EU lacked muscle, it is argued that pre-conditions for political conditionality were not fulfilled and strong leverage proved ineffective and counterproductive. These results question conditionality as an effective mediation strategy when state-building is contested between local parties.
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