A Rocky Road to Reconstruction 

Table of Content

The United States older generations work every day to have a finer appreciation for diversity. From the Holocaust to 9/11’s tragedies, the US has seen its great deal of failure in understanding how a community thrives off being different. Though in developing European countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, diversity only sparked arguments for citizens like Muslim, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox religions because their beliefs differed from each other. But, with new leadership in the country from the Serbians and a change of religious perspectives, problems arose drastically until they ultimately sparked a war. When the fighting ceased, the rough road to reconstruction began, leaving both positive and negative results. Through examining the Bosnian War it is clear for governments facing similar problems to reorganize in order to make smarter decisions in topics such as wealth or education

The war lasted from 1992 to 1995 as the result of Yugoslavia’s disbandment. Each republic that disbanded from its mother nation disliked each other, and this was no different of the Eastern Orthodox Serbians who hated the Bosnian Muslims for their religious beliefs and values (Bramlett). Though religious conflicts occur often, this one caught the attention of outside governments through the Serbians’ genocide against the Muslims. They intentionally took Muslims away from their homes and forced them into concentration camps or simply slaughtered them like cattle, wiping out the thriving religious population in order to benefit their own upbringing (“United”). The Serbian army would impose this upon the Bosniaks harshly, with the worst instance of genocide in Srebrenica.

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In only a week of Srebrenica’s capture, Serbian rebel forces forced Muslim men, women, and children to camps or execution sites. 8,000 men perished, and thousands more went missing, but the town itself was declared untouchable under UN regulations (“Bosnia”). This city, along with two other safe towns met similar fates within Serbians’ goal of demolishing the Muslim faith. With the fate of Muslims culture in the balance; the Bosniaks who could leave behind the destroyed country for safety fled when the killings began. By the end of the war, it would leave over 1,300,000 Bosniaks displaced (“Cleansing”).

Before the war had even started areas like Srebrenica was protected by the UN but the Serbians took control of these cities to spite the UN. Then continuing to escalate both countries flew over “no-fly areas” that caused the reluctant UN to unleash airstrikes upon both ethnic groups (Bosco 17). With the turmoil started to decrease with outside governmental help, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), working alongside the Bosnians, began bombing campaigns against the Serbians after they continuously refused to make negotiations. Finally, on December 14th, 1995, both sides agreed upon a ceasefire and to meet and form a solution (“Bosnia”).

Negotiations made in Dayton, Ohio created the distinct line between both of these countries’ territories. Each having their own nation allowed each to present its own faith and bureaucratic ideas, but with new lines established on both sides, it was clear they needed the people back in order to do this. In the deal, it “grant[ed] every refugee and displaced person in Bosnia the right to return home” (Bosco 18). Yet most refused to return until those who initiated the mass killings and destruction of cities be brought to justice (Eagar 20).

Leading into the 21st century, the UN held trials in the Netherlands for both Bosnian and Serbian war criminals (Colwill 111). Though the main case that the UN wanted to prosecute was the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica, they prosecuted other accusers they saw as threats. This was determined through the United Nations checklist for targeting ethnic groups; the Serbians fell into that category upon purposefully trying to rid the world of the Muslim culture in order to strengthen their religious values (“United”).

The trials, unfortunately, took time to conduct, leaving the displaced refugees fearful of returning (Eagar 20). By 2016, over 60 war criminals out of 161 were tried and convicted, including Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic, who helped organize and carry out the massacre in Srebrenica (“Bosnia”). With the monsters of the war gone, it was time to rebuild and move forward.

As rebuilding began, governmental and non-governmental groups began working in the country. The EU (European Union) encouraged displaced people to return safely using strategies such as the reconstruction of the famous bridge in Mostar. With its central location and form of transportation for families, refugees began filtering their way back home because it was a symbol of rebirth to them (“EU Integration”). To the Bosnian people, the bridge proved that “culture is the foundation upon which cities are built,” and if a bridge can fit back together, then their country can as well (“Culture”). It was the bridge that gave the Bosniaks hope that peace is obtainable.

It had not been easy because families came back to their homes in unsafe conditions or simply destroyed. The Ministry for Human Rights built simple housing units as temporary shelters while the cities reorganized (“Comparative” 63). In these buildings, each family would only be given around 635 square feet with six people per household; conditions in these temporary homes were not ideal (“Comparative” 53). Others families, most taking materials at their own cost, built their homes because it could be at their own price and style (“Returning”). Families worried about the future and interested more about how to support their families than the ostentatious look of their home (“Comparative” 63).

With over 10,000 people searching through the employment programs, “microfinance programs [provided] about 200,000 jobs and employment services to over 7,000 former soldiers” (“EU Integration”). It helped men struggling to support their families who had skills they used before the war to not only be heroes in battle but in their homes as well. Though a substantial percentage of jobs were difficult to obtain due to a lack of education and skill in the workforce leaving poverty ratings up until 2011, high varying from 11% to 20% (“Employment”).

Within a European conference, a new constitution established within Bosnia gave everyone the right to an education (“Comparative” 267). The countries goal was to encourage lower classes to develop stronger skills, but “women, and [younger people had] especially high unemployment rates” (“Employment”). Women were a large target to abuse in the war and judged off their submissive stature. Younger generations were not as qualified as older and only posed for the future. With all this put into place, the government needed a lot of work.

The government needed to find a way to “economic recovery” and the international bank stepped in (McMahon 569). With more governmental support the “product of international pressure [was] superficial” (Bosco 23). With the World Bank and EU’s help, they were able to secure around 5 billion dollars in funds to help Bosnia, but have only used about a billion in reconstruction. Though finally in 2015 the economy began to rise 3% and has been at peace even through the challenging times (“Employment”).

Governments like Bosnia need to sit down and look at why they failed in the first place. When Bosnia was conjoined with Serbia, the enemy was easily able to take over and twist the perspective of Muslims because of a lack of leadership. Governments need leaders who are strong enough to stand up for diversity and solve problems occurring in their countries such as the basic necessities like shelter or education. The government needs to grow a backbone and support its people rather than the people supporting the government.

In order to gain more strong-willed individuals education needs to be spread throughout the country in stronger pushes. Education is the key to so many doors for citizens wanting a voice yet not giving fair opportunities in schools leaves groups falling behind. Women and new generations are the leading faces of countries decisions now in the 21st century. Incorporating education through harsher laws that the government can force can bring more modern viewpoints such as separating religion from schools or allowing the future to have more responsibility. With stronger education equips intelligent leaders to know where they can put those billions of dollars towards in their country rather than constantly living in a reconstruction process. The government needs the people in its country to steer them towards success rather than another war.

It is clear, through the Bosnian War, that countries facing similar problems need a stronger government who will focus more on education so their future leaders can be better decision makers with challenges they face. A country should always look back and understand why they failed in order to be stronger for the future. Bosnia failed because it did not have a government that was able to survive diversity, but with the power of education, their doors in the future to success are infinite. As long as they take the advice to be adaptable then them with any other country facing a problem similar to this can set their feet back on the ground and keep running alongside the other thousand countries there are in the world.

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A Rocky Road to Reconstruction . (2022, Feb 09). Retrieved from


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