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This House would allow the Republika Srpska to secede from Bosnia & Herzegovina
This House would allow the Republika Srpska to secede from Bosnia & Herzegovina
The State of Bosnia & Herzegovina is formally divided into two entities the Republika Srpska [hereafter referred to as RS] (composed primarily of ethnic Serbs) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina [FBH] (composed primarily of ethnic Croats and Bosnian Muslims or Bosniaks). This division dates from the time of its independence from Yugoslavia in 1992 during the Yugoslav wars and was designed to end the fighting and promote peace and reconciliation. The conflict was ended by the Dayton Agreement of 21st November 1995. The agreement set an inter-ethnic boundary line which closely followed the front lines at the end of the war with a few adjustments particularly in the case of Sarajevo.These two entities are largely self-governing within their own territories, with their own parliaments, presidents, constitutions, police forces and even their own postal systems. Cooperation between the two parts within federal state structures is limited and characterised by gridlock and division.Many within the Republika Srpska seek independence from Bosnia-Herzegovina and potentially even union with Serbia.
 Bureau of Public Affairs, ‘Summary of The Dayton Peace Agreement’, State Department, 11 December 1995, http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/bosnia/dayton.html
 ‘Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, “Official Gazette” of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1/94, http://www.advokat-prnjavorac.com/legislation/constitution_fbih.pdf
‘Constitutions’, LegislationOnline, http://legislationline.org/documents/section/constitutions (for Respublika Srpska)
 Wikipedia, ‘Political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_divisions_of_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina
|Points For||Points Against|
|Serbs have a right to Self-Determination.||Secession strengthen Nationalism in the new states|
|There is legitimate precedent.||Secession will hurt minorities in the new state|
|The present state structure does not work.||Secession will lead to renewed conflict.|
|The peoples within the state have no desire to live together.||Secession will strengthen Nationalism in neighbouring states.|
|Increased sense of identity with the state increases social solidarity.||Republika Srpska cannot survive economically as an independent state.|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
Serbs have a right to Self-Determination.
The right to self-determination is a basic human right which underpins the legitimacy of the nation-state. Where a large group people do not feel represented or accepted by a state and thus do not consent to its rule, the states control over that people becomes illegitimate. The right to national self-determination is enshrined with the UN charter and formed the basis for the independence of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro.
 United Nations, ‘UN Charter, Chapter I: Purposes and Principles, Art. 1, Part 2’. 26 June 1945, http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml
Where does self-determination end? Do cities or towns have a right to self-determination, what about individuals within the state? Allowing further secessions will just lead to increasingly smaller and less viable states without producing benefits. Nations are invented human constructs with no inherent value. The right to self-determination is limited, the Supreme Court of Canada determined that there were only three circumstances in which external self determination to three circumstances (a) those under colonial domination or foreign occupation; (b) peoples subject to "alien subjugation, domination or exploitation outside a colonial context;" and, possibly, (c) a people "blocked from the meaningful exercise of its right to self-determination internally." None of these apply to RS.
In the case of RS there were Bosniaks and Croats who were already in the region and were expelled in the 1990s who in many cases formed a majority in many municipalities in what is now Republika Srpska. Should these smaller groupings have the same right? And if so would individual villages within these municipalities then be able to exercise their own self determination?
 Van der Vyver, Johan D., ‘Self-determination of the p[eoples of Quebec under International Law’, J. Transnational Law & Policy, Vol.10 No.1, p.12, http://law.fsu.edu/journals/transnational/vol101/vyver.pdf
There is legitimate precedent.
Kosovo became formally independent from Serbia in 2008 and Montenegro became independent from Serbia in 2006 as a result of referenda within those territories. If these states and the many, many others which previously achieved independence have a right to self-determination why doesn’t RS? To deny some groups of people access to self-determination is hypocritical and unjust.
 BBC News, ‘Kosovo MPs proclaim independence’, 17 February 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7249034.stm
 BBC News, ‘Montenegro declares independence’, 4 June 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5043462.stm
The example of Kosovo is not similar because of the terrible treatment including ethnic cleansing, mass murder and torture that Kosovars suffered within the former Yugoslavia and Serbia. Even if other examples are more similar, they are regrettable themselves, we should be seeking to bring nations together through means such as the EU and UN not split them apart.
The main reason for Kosovo's recognition stemmed from the fact that it was never really simply part of Serbia. Until the illegal constitutional changes made by Milosevic in 1989, Kosovo was a part of the Yugoslav federation in its own right, with its own seat on the Yugoslav presidency. One can't possibly claim the same constitutional status for RS, which is quite simply the areas of Bosnia which the Bosnian Serb forces were able to ethnically cleanse and keep after the war ended in 1995. Unlike Kosovo, the RS has no historical, legal or constitutional precident and is to a large degree the product of ethnic cleansing.Improve this
The present state structure does not work.
The existing state structure does not work, because it requires agreement between the representatives of RS and the FBH, Given the fundamentally divergent aims and opinions of the two sides compromise is almost impossible leading to perpetual gridlock on basic issues such as policing and education. This gridlock can be shown by the fifteen months it took for Bosnia and Herzegovina to form a government, and even then a compromise was only reached due to financial pressure from the IMF and EU.
 Szpala, Marta, ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina: the financial situation forces politicians to reach a compromise regarding the government’, Centre for Eastern Studies, 4 January 2012, http://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/ceweekly/2012-01-04/bosnia-and-herzegovina-financial-situation-forces-politicians-to-reac
This is just an argument for reforming state structures to reduce dysfunction, perhaps by moving to majority votes instead of each side having a veto. Additionally if the two sides have difficulty cooperating now, why would that cooperation become easier when they no longer share a state? This would at the minimum lead to two neighbouring states without a functional relationship and thus limited ability to act collectively on cross border crime or trade.Improve this
The peoples within the state have no desire to live together.
The constituents peoples (Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks) live almost entirely in separate segregated areas with very little communal intermixing. They already essentially live in separate states but without the ability to actually direct their own affairs or receive international recognition.  It should be remembered that the Bosnian Serbs have already voted ponce for secession as in a referendum in November 1991 in areas which were Serb ethnic 96.4% voted for an independent State within the then Yugoslav federation.
 Wikipedia, ‘Ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina
 Application of Genocide convention, ‘Dissenting opinion of Judge Kreca’, International Court of Justice, 11 July 1996, p.738, http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/91/7365.pdf?PHPSESSID=1f1615e6112c0279dde6f359b53b0659
Areas of intermixing do exist, such as the capital, Sarajevo. Steps should be taken instead top encourage communities to live together for example with housing subsidies for mixed developments and with cross communal education.Improve this
Increased sense of identity with the state increases social solidarity.
Where groups of people do not identify with the state they are less likely to be willing to invest in more generous state services since they do feel that peoples with whom they have no affinity will benefit from them. Conversely, where people feel like the state is mostly composed of people like them, they are more willing to invest in education, healthcare and a welfare state. These things will ultimately significantly improve the lives of the people in each new state and lead to stronger states than the one that exists now. For example the Scandinavian states, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland with their largely homogenous societies are also associated with very high levels of social happiness and generous welfare provision.Improve this
Some groups of people will always not identify with the state, for class based, political and cultural reasons. State solidarity has to be based on a common humanity as that is the only fundamentally unifying factor.Improve this
Secession strengthen Nationalism in the new states
Nations and Peoples are invented human constructs that have no intrinsic value. Self-determination merely reinforces the idea that different groups of people are fundamentally different and not part of a shared humanity. Nationalism leads to a belief that some groups of people are superior to others, which in turn leads to discrimination against groups of people who are not seen as part of the nation.
 Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities, p.48, https://www2.bc.edu/marian-simion/th406/readings/0420anderson.pdf
 Ajnadžić, Mirza, and Kamber, Ajdin, ‘Bosnia’s “Others” Fight for Their Rights’, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 746, 19 June 1012, http://iwpr.net/report-news/bosnias-others-fight-their-rights
Whether or not Nations are imaginary, they are seen as being important and form a key part of individual’s identity. Nationalism does not have to lead to a sense of superiority, nations can be proud of their identity without being disrespectful of other nation’s culture and history.Improve this
Secession will hurt minorities in the new state
This increased nationalism will hurt minority ethnic groups within the new states, both already existing minorities such as Jews, Roma, and foreign immigrants who will no longer be part of a largely diverse state with strong legal protections for minority rights, where there are mechanisms for preventing either side dominating, but will instead be part of new ethnically defined states to which they will be perceived as not belonging. Additionally it will hurt the ‘new’ minorities, the Bosniaks and Croats in RS and the Serbs in the FBH, who will be physically and mentally cut off from the state which at least in some respects formerly represented them. Instead they would be made a minority within a group of people judged fundamentally different from them and incapable of living with people like them.
 Szpala, Marta, ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina – an ongoing erosion of the state’, Centre for Eastern Studies, 30 March 2011, http://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/ceweekly/2011-03-30/bosnia-and-herzegovina-ongoing-erosion-state
The constitutions of the RS and FBH already enshrine the protection of linguistic and religious minorities and the new states will be aware of the international focus on the ‘new’ minority groups and will thus focus resources on protecting them in order to protect the reputation of the new state.Improve this
Secession will lead to renewed conflict.
The combination of an increased nationalism and the plight of minorities trapped within states overwhelmingly composed of the ‘other’ people is likely to lead to low level tension, rioting and even potentially warfare particularly over areas which have large Serbs or Bosniak populations forming enclaves within the other state as has happened in many previous secession disputes such as the Croatian secession from YugoslaviaThis would plunge the area and the whole region back towards the catastrophic fighting of the 1990’s and needlessly cost many lives as happened in the partition of India. It would also likely lead to waves of refugees and decreased investment and tourism in the new states blighting their futures.
 Reuters, ‘Roads Sealed as Yugoslav Unrest Mounts’, The New York Times, 19 August 1990, http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/19/world/roads-sealed-as-yugoslav-unrest-mounts.html?ref=croatia
 Brass, Paul R., ‘The partition of India and retributive genocide in the Punjab 1946-47: means, methods, and purposes’, Journal of Genocide Research, Vol.5, No.1, 2003, pp.71-101, p.75, http://faculty.washington.edu/brass/Partition.pdf
The region is no longer the powder keg of tension it once was. The independence of Kosovo did not lead to widespread fighting, but only to localised rioting for a period of days or weeks and the Montenegrin secession was entirely peaceful. The awareness of the possibility of escalation of tension will only to serve to make the new states and the international community even more focused on preventing violence and they are thus likely to react accordingly with peacekeepers, international monitors and aid.Improve this
Secession will strengthen Nationalism in neighbouring states.
The upsurge in Nationalism would not be limited to just the two parts of Bosnia & Herzegovina, given the ethnic kinship between the Croats and Serbs of Bosnia and those of Croatia and Serbia, but would also in all likelihood lead to renewed nationalism in Serbia, Croatia and other FYRs as happened during the earlier rise of the nationalists before and during the Yugoslav wars. This would jeopardise the progress made within and between these states and damage international cooperation. It would also likely set back the drive towards increased integration, the close cross national feeling and shared culture termed ‘the Yugosphere’ and ultimately being joined together again within the EU.
 Pesic, Vesna, ‘Serbian Nationalism and the Origins of the Yugoslav Crisis’, Peaceworks No.8, April 1996, United States Institute of Peace, http://kms1.isn.ethz.ch/serviceengine/Files/ISN/30963/ipublicationdocument_singledocument/DD98B650-6B39-4FA8-8F02-5296502F4EBA/en/1996_april_pwks8.pdf .26
The progress in the other former Yugoslav Republics is now largely irreversible as young people grow up without experience of fighting or significant ethnic division. The processes of education and increased prosperity that have led to this phenomena mean that it will likely be largely unaffected by events in Bosnia-Herzegovina.Improve this
Republika Srpska cannot survive economically as an independent state.
The RS and FBH have very little industry and few exports, RS for example only exports 720million euros worth compared to imports of 1.25billion euros, the economy is largely based on tourism and foreign aid both of which would likely be adversely affected by the turmoil of secession. A new RS would therefore likely quickly become economically dependent on Serbia and would be unable to make the investments needed to ensure a successful new state. The drop off in tourism revenue will also reduce the prosperity of the citizens and increase poverty in the area.
 Remikovic, Drazen, ‘Devicit of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska half billion euros’, Balkans.com, 30 August 2011, http://www.balkans.com/open-news.php?uniquenumber=117689
Both Montenegro and Kosovo had similar economic situations and have subsequently prospered after independence. Even if there were economic problems they were also both still allowed to become independent. Independence can also lead to an economic boom with new investment and diaspora emigrants returning to the country as happened with the Baltic states after independence.
 Fifka, Matthias S., ‘The Baltics: Continuing boom or bursting bubble? A rocky short-run should not obscure a promising long run’, Business Economics, October 2008, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1094/is_4_43/ai_n31302641/
Ajnadžić, Mirza, and Kamber, Ajdin, ‘Bosnia’s “Others” Fight for Their Rights’, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 746, 19 June 1012, http://iwpr.net/report-news/bosnias-others-fight-their-rights
Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities, p.48, https://www2.bc.edu/marian-simion/th406/readings/0420anderson.pdf
BBC News, ‘Montenegro declares independence’, 4 June 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5043462.stm
BBC News, ‘Kosovo MPs proclaim independence’, 17 February 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7249034.stm
Brass, Paul R., ‘The partition of India and retributive genocide in the Punjab 1946-47: means, methods, and purposes’, Journal of Genocide Research, Vol.5, No.1, 2003, pp.71-101, p.75, http://faculty.washington.edu/brass/Partition.pdf
Bureau of Public Affairs, ‘Summary of The Dayton Peace Agreement’, State Department, 11 December 1995, http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/bosnia/dayton.html
Fifka, Matthias S., ‘The Baltics: Continuing boom or bursting bubble? A rocky short-run should not obscure a promising long run’, Business Economics, October 2008, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1094/is_4_43/ai_n31302641/
Kerca, Application of Genocide convention, ‘Dissenting opinion of Judge Kreca’, International Court of Justice, 11 July 1996, p.738, http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/91/7365.pdf?PHPSESSID=1f1615e6112c0279dde6f359b53b0659
‘Constitutions’, LegislationOnline, http://legislationline.org/documents/section/constitutions
‘Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, “Official Gazette” of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1/94, http://www.advokat-prnjavorac.com/legislation/constitution_fbih.pdf
Pesic, Vesna, ‘Serbian Nationalism and the Origins of the Yugoslav Crisis’, Peaceworks No.8, April 1996, United States Institute of Peace, p.26 http://kms1.isn.ethz.ch/serviceengine/Files/ISN/30963/ipublicationdocument_singledocument/DD98B650-6B39-4FA8-8F02-5296502F4EBA/en/1996_april_pwks8.pdf
Remikovic, Drazen, ‘Devicit of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska half billion euros’, Balkans.com, 30 August 2011, http://www.balkans.com/open-news.php?uniquenumber=117689
Reuters, ‘Roads Sealed as Yugoslav Unrest Mounts’, The New York Times, 19 August 1990, http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/19/world/roads-sealed-as-yugoslav-unrest-mounts.html?ref=croatia
Szpala, Marta, ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina – an ongoing erosion of the state’, Centre for Eastern Studies, 30 March 2011, http://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/ceweekly/2011-03-30/bosnia-and-herzegovina-ongoing-erosion-state
Szpala, Marta, ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina: the financial situation forces politicians to reach a compromise regarding the government’, Centre for Eastern Studies, 4 January 2012, http://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/ceweekly/2012-01-04/bosnia-and-herzegovina-financial-situation-forces-politicians-to-reac
United Nations, ‘UN Charter, Chapter I: Purposes and Principles, Art. 1, Part 2’. 26 June 1945, http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml
Van der Vyver, Johan D., ‘Self-determination of the p[eoples of Quebec under International Law’, J. Transnational Law & Policy, Vol.10 No.1, p.12, http://law.fsu.edu/journals/transnational/vol101/vyver.pdf
Wikipedia, ‘Ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina
Wikipedia, ‘Political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_divisions_of_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina
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