It’s Not OK to Copy and Paste… Especially When it Comes to Conflict Management

This week’s cross-post comes to us from Graz University, ‘Bosnia is No Model for Ukrainian Peace’ (, an article which discusses the publicly ‘successful’ conflict resolution model emanating from Bosnia in 1995, and the problem of replicating the model and process in other conflict situations today, notably in Ukraine.

As the authors note, the key assumption behind the Dayton agreement, which prevails in the current discourse about Ukraine, is that ethnic identity is constant, salient, totalising – and that individual ethnic groups cannot live together or live in political communities where their respective ethnic group does not have autonomy or supremacy. The article points out that the Dayton Accords falsely presume that the conflict was about ethnic identity, when in fact ethnic identity was instead a tool to drive the conflict. This means that the root causes of the conflict have never been resolved, and the potential for violent conflict to reemerge is not negligible.

What does this mean in practice? It means that there is a large risk when a ‘model’ of conflict resolution is developed in a specific context and then replicated in another. There is a tendency to focus on what has been successful about a specific conflict resolution process rather than an emphasis on understanding the weaknesses or failures and learning from them.

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