Jessie Hronešová | University of Oxford

Variation in policy outcomes for victims and veterans across Bosnia and Herzegovina

This thesis examines the leverage of war-generated groups of victims and veteran through mobilization of their associations vis-à-vis authorities at the state and sub-national level in post-1995 Bosnia and Herzegovina. Trying to find answers to how people re-established their lives in the country and what struggles they face, this research specifically looks at their pursuits of socioeconomic recovery as a way of remedying injustice. Emerging from wars with different demands, motivations and interests, victims and veterans are direct products of the war. Though considered as secondary actors in the post-conflict arena – to political and international elites – they are important agents – both as drivers and resisters – in the processes of post-war reckoning with injustice, establishing positive peace and truth. But beyond moral questions of justice and truth, they are particularly active in policies, which directly matter to their everyday life and socioeconomic reintegration – questions of compensation and social assistance, which this thesis calls ‘compensatory justice’. But the particular concern here is not only for their salience in the post-war political arena but also on the levels of effectiveness, i.e. success of their demands. While some categories benefit form a range of privileges, others lack an institutional anchoring and acknowledgment of their claims. The different policy outcomes we observe are studied here as their different levels of success, defined as the achievement of stated goals and a tangible effect on the process and outcome.

Drawing on transitional justice and peacebuilding literatures, it studies the roles and agency of victims and veterans in post-war policy-making, advocating alongside some emerging micro-level research (Lundy and McGovern 2008; Hinton 2010; Shaw, Waldorf, and Hazan 2010; Lederach and Lederach 2011; Theidon 2013; Volcic and Simić 2013; Autesserre 2014) for a more interactional approach to the study of post-war power relations. Analytically, this thesis draws on resource mobilization literature (McCarthy and Zald 1977), particularly stressing the role of political, discursive, advocacy and organizational resources (Keck and Sikkink 1998). It demonstrates that the Bosnian post-war context, characterised by a hybrid power legitimacy between international and domestic structures (Keil 2014), has created impermeable hierarchies of social relations where only the most resourceful groups of surviving war victims and war veterans manage to reap benefits from the weak state, while the rest either has to adapt to the rules of the political game, or face marginalisation. This particular angle can help us understand other relevant cases of post-war involvement of non-state actors in policy-making processes and the inter-personal interactions of their struggles for compensation.