US Policy Towards Secession in the Balkans and Effectiveness of DE FACTO Partition   [open pdf - 445KB]

During the decade of the 1990s, as ethnic conflicts obtained greater salience and demonstrated renewed ability to destabilize the international order, successive US administrations fostered cautious multilateral policies. Washington advocated interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo that were designed to end conflict and restore order in the short-run while firmly denying the right to partition the original state. Partition--the creation of one or more new independent states from an existing one--was normatively and practically rejected. Instead, the US and its NATO allies opted for de facto partition as the "best of the worst" policy choices. The de facto partitions in Bosnia and Kosovo are short-term military and political expedients involving the use of non-sovereign boundaries to divide states ethnically, geographically and politically. Simultaneously, the regimes imposed by the Dayton Accords in Bosnia and the UN protectorate in Kosovo emphasize the use of political and economic incentives to bridge military and territorial boundaries. The following study examines the two major ongoing civil-military attempts to manage ethnic conflict in the Balkans via de facto partition. The analysis focuses on the extent to which policy implementation bolsters the underlying objective--to maintain a multiethnic sovereign state and prevent secession or partition. The study assesses the de facto partition regimes in Bosnia and Kosovo in terms of their short-term effectiveness containing conflict and the long-term prospects for state preservation. In each case, the analysis begins with a brief review of the objectives of the intervenor's. Subsequent sections focus on the military and political aspects of the intervention, and the extent to which they are reinforcing partition or integration. The conclusion offers a blunt final assessment of international efforts in the Balkans and policy recommendations addressing current shortcomings.

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INSS Occasional Paper 40
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