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The Essence of Analogy: Conflict Termination and State-building Lessons from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Syria

In: International Negotiation
Author:
Gorana Grgić Department of Government and International Relations and United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney Institute Building H03, City Rd, NSW 2006 Australia

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Abstract

From the perspective of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) today, the legacy of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) remains mixed. The dominant view is that the DPA is the origin of its political impasse, economic stagnation, and failed nation-building. Yet, it is indisputable that DPA has been successful in preventing the recurrence of a major violent ethnic conflict in BiH. More recently, the failures of Syrian peace talks to yield a durable settlement have evoked the lessons from the DPA. However, most analyses have concluded the parallels with the Bosnian war and its resolution are misplaced given the complexity and severity of the war in Syria. This article argues for a more nuanced approach to distilling the Dayton legacy, particularly when it is employed as a historical analogy. It highlights the usefulness of the DPA as an analogy for successful conflict termination, while offering lessons about the pitfalls of externally imposed consociational arrangements.

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