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The Role of the Islamic Community in Peacebuilding in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina: Case Study of East Bosnia

The main aim of this paper is to prove that religious communities can play a vital role in building peace and trust among conflict-divided societies such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. A special focus has been put on five municipalities in East Bosnia that survived the genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass deportation. Enforcement, peacekeeping, agreement making, and institution and capacity-building are the main elements that have to be taken into consideration in the process of peacebuilding. The peacebuilding process is challenged in East Bosnia due to the lack of desire on the part of the Serbian Orthodox Church to take part and be involved in a joint peacebuilding process with the Islamic Community.

The Role of the Islamic Community in Peacebuilding in Post-War
A Bosnian woman mourns near a relative’s grave, at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina. AA PHOTO / KEMAL ZORLAK

Introduction 

The Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ICBH) played an essential role as a contributor to relief and development in many conflict zones during the Bosnian War 1992-1995; beyond that, the ICBH has tried to foster post-war peacebuilding in the country. But the question is, can faith-based or religious organizations, such as the ICBH, be an effective agent of interfaith peacebuilding process in the post-war period in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)? Can they rise beyond their faith-based identity and try to bring the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to each other? How has the ICBH contributed to the peacebuilding process among the people?

In an attempt to answer these questions, this study assesses how the activities undertaken by the ICBH have influenced peacebuilding between the formerly conflicted parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main aim of this work is to investigate and analyze the role of religion, specifically Islam, in the peacebuilding process in BiH. The peacebuilding process is a long-term project, and it is not easy to determine which of the activities performed by the ICBH has contributed the most to it. Therefore, this study discusses the different methods and perspectives used by the ICBH to strengthen the peacebuilding process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Scholars in international relations have long been concerned with techniques and methods in preventative diplomacy, conflict resolution, reconciliation, and peacebuilding. A secular paradigm has dominated these studies, and not many seriously conducted studies have examined and analyzed the role of religious communities in the peacebuilding process. The role of religion as a facilitator in conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes and promoter of justice, tolerance and peace has been very much neglected by the scholars. Yet, justice and peace are fundamental commitments of virtually all religious com

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Call for Paper | Politics of the Balkans and Future Perspectives