Bosnia-Herzegovina: The Role of the Judiciary in a Divided Society

Joseph Marko


This paper analyzes the role of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the promotion of social justice under the conditions of a triple transformation from war to peace and from a communist regime based on the Titoist self-management ideology to a liberal-democratic political regime and economic market system in three parts. The first section describes the political, constitutional and economic context during and after the collapse of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The second section describes and analyzes the constitutional and institutional arrangements established under the General Framework Agreement for Peace, concluded in Dayton/Ohio and Paris, 1995. The third section deals with the role of the Constitutional Court and analyzes with reference to its case law the interpretative doctrines developed in its adjudication of the right to property concerning different concepts of property and the right to work in the context of the constitutionally guaranteed right to return of refugees and restitution of property.


Anti-discrimination; Constitutional Principles; Interpretative Doctrines; Power Sharing; Transitional Justice

Full Text:



Abazović, Mirsad. Nacionalni Aspekti Kadrova u BiH 1945-1991 [National Aspects of the Formation of Cadres in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1945-1991]. Sarajevo: Bibliotheka Posebna Izdanja, br. 66, 2000.

Ademović, Nedim and Christian Steiner. Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Commentary. Sarajevo: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2010.

Bowring, Bill. The Degradation of the International Legal Order? The Rehabilitation of Law and the Possibility of Politics. New York: Routledge and Cavendish, 2008.

Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Case No. U-5/98.

Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Case No. U-19/01.

General Framework Agreement for Peace, in International Legal Materials 35, No.1 (1996), 75-168.

International Crisis Group, “Implementing Equality: The Constituent Peoples Decision in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Balkans Report, no. 128, 16 April 2002.

Kulenović, Nedim. Court as a Policy-Maker?: The Role and Effects of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Democratic Transition and Consolidation, Working Paper 5/2016. Sarajevo: Analitika, Center for Social Research, 2016.

Leebaw, Bronwyn Anne. The Irreconcilable Goals of Transitional Justice. Human Rights Quarterly 30, no. 1 (2008): 95-118.

Lijphart, Arend. “Self-Determination versus Pre-Determination of Ethnic Minorities in Power-Sharing Systems.” In The Rights of Minority Culture, edited by Will Kymlicka, 275-87, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Marko, Joseph. “Autonomy or Partition? The Ethno-National Effects of Territorial Delimitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” In Local-Self-Government, Territorial Integrity and Protection of Minorities, edited by the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, Publications of the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, 121-143, Zurich: Schulthess, 1996.

Marko, Joseph. “Five Years of Constitutional Jurisprudence in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A First Balance.” European Diversity and Autonomy Papers 7/2004, 2004 at, accessed September 1, 2019.

Marko, Joseph. “Defective Democracy in a Failed State? Bridging Constitutional Design, Politics and Ethnic Division in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” In Practising Self-Government: A Comparative Study of Autonomous Regions, edited by Yash Gai and Sophia Woodman, 281-314. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Marko, Joseph. “Ethnopolitics and Constitutional Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” In Bosnia-Herzegovina since Dayton: Civic and Uncivic Values, edited by Ola Listhaug and Sabrina P. Ramet, 49-80. Ravenna: Longo Editore, 2013.

Merkel, Wolfgang. “Embedded and Defective Democracies.” Democratization 11, no. 5 (2004).

Morawiec Mansfield, Anna, “Ethnic but Equal: the Quest for a New Democratic Order in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Columbia Law Review 113, (2003).

Orgad, Liav. “The Preamble in Constitutional Interpretation.” I•CON 8, no.4, (2010).

Ramet, Sabrina P. The Three Yugoslavias: State-Building and Legitimitation, 1919-1992. Washington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Rosenfeld, Michel. “Constitutional Identity.“ In The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law, edited by Michel Rosenfeld and András Sajó (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Stahn, Carsten. “Die Verfassungsrechtliche Pflicht zur Gleichstellung der drei Ethnischen Volksgruppen in den Bosnischen Teilrepubliken – Neue Hoffnung für das Friedensmodell von Dayton? [The Constitutional Obligation to Guarantee Collective Equality of the Three Ethnic Groups in The Bosnian Entities – New Hope for The Model of Dayton?].” Zeitschrift für öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht 60, no. 3-4 (2000).

The Global Economy. “Bosnia and Herzegovina/Unemployment Rate.”Accessed August 18, 2019. UNSC-Resolution 713, 25th September 1991.

Youth Economic Opportunities. “Why Bosnia has the World’s Highest Youth Unemployment Rate.” Accessed August 18, 2019.



Article Metrics

Abstract view : 2842 times
PDF view : 140 times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Constitutional Review