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Event Detail

HI: State-building in Post-war Bosnia: The Legacy of Failure
Date: October 28, 2010 from 12:00 am to 1:30 pm EDT
Location: Columbia University
Morningside Campus
International Affairs Building, Room 1219
Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact Karina Grinstein by sending email to .

State-building in Post-war Bosnia: The Legacy of Failure

Lecturer: Matthew Parish Bosnia was the first occasion after the end of the Cold War in which foreign powers used civilian expertise to reconstruct the legal and political institutions of a post-war society. A huge effort was involved; between the USA and the EU, several billion US Dollars were spent and thousands of foreign consultants were employed, with tens of thousands more international military personnel serving as peacekeepers. For a time it was perceived as a great success, motivating similar nation building efforts in Kosovo, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond. Yet in the last four years the imagined achievements of the international community in Bosnia have collapsed. The country's politics have reverted to levels of animosity and confrontation characteristic of the period immediately after the end of the war. Partition, renewed conflict or indefinite political and economic stasis are all plausible scenarios. In fact the Bosnian state building model was enormously controversial and has proven unsustainable. The wisdom of exporting it elsewhere is thus doubtful. This lecture will trace the errors made by foreign powers in post-war Bosnia, the political reasons why those errors were made, and their consequences for the future of this poor and precarious country. Matthew Parish is an international lawyer living in Geneva, Switzerland and Of Counsel with the Geneva office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. From 2005-2007 he was the Head of the Legal Department in the Office of the International Supervisor of Brcko, part of the Office of the High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina established under the Dayton Peace Accords to supervise civilian implementation of the country's peace agreements. Before that he worked as legal counsel at the World Bank in Washington, DC and has also practiced law in London, England and Cairo, Egypt. Dr Parish is a standing consultant to the British government on post-conflict stabilisation issues and a senior consultant with Nehem International, a development consultancy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is a Visiting Fellow with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Geneva. He writes for Bosnian newspapers in both Sarajevo and Banja Luka. His first book, A Free City in the Balkans: Reconstructing a Divided Society in Bosnia, charts the rise and fall of Brcko District, a protectorate within Bosnia run by the US State Department. his second book, Mirages of International Justice: The Elusive Pursuit of a Transnational Legal Order, will be published in early 2011 and applies constructivist international relations theory to international courts and tribunals. Dr Parish holds degrees from Christ's College, Cambridge and the University of Chicago.