chapter  2
Designing a study of the aftermath of the war rapes in Bosnia
Pages 14

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a deeply divided soci ety where the future is un cer­ tain, the past is unresolved, and the current state of affairs is unsettling. The General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP; hereafter Dayton Agreement), negotiated in Dayton, Ohio and signed in Paris on 14 Decem ber 1995, laid out how Bosnia Herzegovina was to be rebuilt as a new state after the war, and how different inter na tional organ iza tions and agencies were to play different parts in the puzzle. This peace agreement has resulted in a highly bur eau cratic state which has two parallel sys tems of gov ern ment, police and education, with federal institu­ tions over and above the two entity levels. The civilian com pon ents of the 11 Annexes to the Dayton Agreement were to be overseen by inter na tional organ­ iza tions within the United Nations sys tem as well as others. In effect, Bosnia and Herzegovina became an inter na tional pro tectorate where the state’s milit ary was monitored by the NATO­ led SFOR forces, the police was monitored by the UN International Police Task Force (IPTF ), and elections and demo cratic institutions were monitored by the Organization for Security and Coopera tion in Europe (OSCE) and the Office of the High Representative (OHR). In combination, these different organ iza tions made the inter na tional inter ven tion in Bosnia the largest opera tion ever seen. These different opera tions have gone through changes of different kinds over the years. The United Nations Mission in Bosnia Herzegovina (UNMIBH) ter­ minated its engagement at the end of 2002 and its former respons ibil ities were taken over by the Euro pean Union. The clearest example of this trans ition is the fact that the IPTF has been replaced by the EU Police Mission (EUPM), which has a slightly different mandate than the IPTF (it will focus more specifically on returning refu gees and fighting or gan ized crime in the region). The trans ition to the Euro pean Union has also been in the milit ary sector and a trans fer of respons ib ility and personnel took place in Decem ber 2004 under the name of the Euro pean Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR). The gen eral aim of these pro cesses of trans forma tion is to make the respons ib ility for de velopment a distinctly Euro pean issue and ensure that the de velopment in the coun try can lead up to mem ber ship in the Euro pean Union. In addition to the many inter na tional bodies present in the coun try, there has also been a blooming

non­ governmental sector. In 2000, the International Council of Voluntary Agen­ cies (ICVA) listed 182 inter na tional non­ governmental organ iza tions; in addi­ tion, there are 325 local non­ governmental organ iza tions that are also mostly funded by foreign organ iza tions. Over the past years, how ever, many of these organ iza tions have found inter na tional funders to be much less inter ested in the situ ation in Bosnia Herzegovina than in other areas of the world. Consequently, many NGOs have been forced to cut their ac tiv ities and number of em ployees, and even shut down. In the midst of all these de velopments, efforts have been made to help the vic tims of sexual viol ence with a combination of inter na tional sup port, local ini­ tiatives and inter na tional as well as local legal pro secu tion. However, an Amnesty International report from 2009 clearly states that despite many efforts there is still a long way to go in terms of reaching a sense of justice for the vic­ tims of sexual viol ence crimes during the war. What they are par ticu larly con­ cerned with is the lack of legal pro gress when it comes to war crimes – including sexual viol ence crimes: ‘As a result of the administrative organ iza tion of the coun try, war crimes pro secu tion can take place before 10 cantonal courts in FBiH [Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina], five district courts in RS [Repub­ lika Srpska] and the Basic Court of the Brčko District’ (Amnesty International 2009: 18). This results in differing conceptualizations and pun ishment of sexual viol ence crimes, as well as witness protection, within the same country. Against this backdrop I intended to try to map out the aftermath of the war­ rapes by talking to people who were affected in various ways by these crimes. In other words, I entered into a highly complex foreign setting as an outsider attempting to study a theme that is difficult to talk about, hidden and shameridden. Talking about silence appears to be a contra dic tion in terms; how ever, with different qualit at ive data­ gathering techniques and ana lyt ical approaches, I found that it was pos sible to come close to an understanding of the aftermath of sexual viol ence, and to give voice to ex peri ences that have not been subject to extensive ana lysis in the past. This chapter maps out the major challenges in the process.