Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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To What Extent Did Assumptions About Local Ethnic Identities, Fostered Amongst UN Officials During the Bosnia Mission, Frame Their Policies for the Kosovo Mission?

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posted on 2021-11-10, 09:29 authored by Jankovic, Bojan

This thesis focuses on the role of an international actor - United Nations (UN) - and its missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMBiH) during 1992-1995 and Kosovo (UNMIK) in the post war conflict period of peace building. It scrutinizes the tenor of UN peace building missions in these territories by analysing the scope of the policies introduced and the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the international actors' activities during the times of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) before the conflict in Kosovo and Metohija (KiM); and the current situation in these two territories. The thesis will also argue that the ethnic identities played a critical role in relation building between the UN and ethnic groups, where the one ethnic group (Serbs) was recognised as a crucial factor for the conflict's escalation and development. A further focus in this thesis is not only to provide constructive discussion of the ineffectiveness of policies and missions introduced by International Actors (IA) but also to challenge the UN and IA's decision for non-intervention in BiH and to address the consequence of subsequent humanitarian-military intervention in KiM. This paper outlines an analysis of the lack of literature relating to the historical-sociological perspective of the ethnic groups' in BiH. The lack of understanding of the complex relationships among the ethnicities is an additional gap. This is exacerbated by the lack of understanding of the complex relationships among the ethnicities, within itself, as well as the differences among the groups within each ethnic group. It appears that the literature is unable to acknowledge the structural formation of societies in BiH, and to make proper segmentation in understanding the particular group of people (Rex, 2001) as a collection of peoples with different sociological characteristics combined into something called 'ethnicity'. The handicap of such literature leads to the categorisation and generalisation of ethnicities; not at one particular area of an ethnic group's presence but to the generalisation of the peoples' ethnicities (all Serbs are barbarous, similar to the Germans after WWII). This paper argues that such generalisations developed the notion that the particular ethnic group (Serbs) has an 'evil' character, regardless of the territorial occupation (Bosnia as well as Serbia and Diaspora). In addition, the lack of recognising Serbs as a people composed of different individual (local) ethnic groups led to the global generalisation about Serbs. And yet, such generalisations, by the modern western actors, i.e. UN, EU (European Union) and USA (United States of America), led to the employment of negative assumptions about the Serbs which served as a tool for, and added impetus to, the implementation of a strategy to achieve the Western objectives of the devaluation of Serbian dominance in Bosnia and across the Balkan Peninsula. Therefore the quality of literature, in addressing the questions about the conflict in BiH and later KiM, beside its attempts to offer some sustainable answers, remains inadequate and poor. This unsubstantiated position, offered by many involved in former-Yugoslavian conflict discussions, to offer an informed conclusion, persists as a never-ending debate. Yet, the discourse about the guilty factor in BiH and KiM remains in the shape of the 'evil' Serbian nation.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of International Relations

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Shilliam, Robbie