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Lara Nettelfield's Courting Democracy now in Paperback

Posted on 14/12/2012
Nettelfield - Courting Democracy

We are pleased to announce that new PIR colleague Lara J. Nettelfield's Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovenia (Cambridge University Press) has now been published in paperback. Originally published in 2010, Dr Nettelfield's book won the 2011 Marshall Shulman Book Prize, which is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. Details of the paperback version can be found here.

Summary: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) struggled to apprehend and try high-profile defendants including Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević, often receiving more criticism than praise. This volume argues that the court has made a substantial contribution to Bosnia and Herzegovina's transition to democracy. Based on over three years of field research and several hundred interviews, this study brings together multiple research methods – including surveys, ethnography and archival materials – to show the court's impact on five segments of Bosnian society, emphasizing the role of the social setting in translating international law into domestic contexts. Much of the early rhetoric about the transformative potential of international criminal law fostered unrealistic expectations of institutions like the ICTY. Judged by more realistic standards, international law is seen to play a modest yet important role in postwar transitions. These findings have implications for the study of international courts around the world and the role of law in contributing to social change.

"This book is essential reading for anyone interested in war crimes tribunals and their place in transitional justice. Nettelfield's wide and thorough research in the literature and on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina make this work stand out in a field already heavily populated. It represents a well balanced and realistic assessment of the record of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia" -- Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor, United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.


"Elegantly written and drawing on years of meticulous empirical research, Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a major contribution to theoretical and policy debates on the role of international justice institutions. Nettelfield robustly challenges conventional critical assessments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and in so doing, changes forever the terms of the discussion about the impact of the ICTY in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Should be required reading in courses on human rights, international criminal law and political transitions in post-conflict settings" -- Richard A. Wilson, Gladstein Chair of Human Rights and Director of the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut.


"This work is elegant in its rigor; lively in its tone; and uplifting in its spirit. Nettelfield gracefully moves us beyond turgidly contemptuous or blindly enthusiastic assessments of the relevance of international criminal law. She charts the field's role in post-conflict transition – a modest role, to be sure, and certainly a nuanced one, but also one that fosters democratic development. The book is a must-read for anyone concerned with Bosnia, transitional justice, and the role of law in life. A tour-de-force!" -- Mark A. Drumbl, Class of 1975 Alumni Professor and Director, Transnational Law Institute, Washington and Lee University School of Law.


"Friends of international justice will welcome this balanced, methodologically rigorous assessment of popular responses to the ICTY in the Western Balkans … With its nuanced presentation of the Tribunal's impact, this work amply identifies missteps and pitfalls while providing gracious encouragement to proponents of international jurisprudence" -- Robert Donia, University of Michigan.


"Lara Nettelfield has masterfully documented and analyzed the true impact of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on Bosnian society since 1993. She challenges conventional wisdom by demonstrating the tribunal's modest but largely positive contribution to the democratic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the introduction of new social movements for accountability. This book slays a few dragons and introduces refreshing clarity to a very challenging subject" -- David Scheffer, Northwestern University School of Law, and former US Ambassador for War Crimes Issues (1997–2001)


"With a soft yet firm voice, backed by exceptionally thorough research, Nettelfield argues that the … [ICTY] has helped form attitudes and institutions essential to a democratic outcome in war-ravaged Bosnia. It is not an easy argument to make given the impediments to the tribunal's success, its own deficiencies, and the headwind of skepticism coming from the analytic community over the effectiveness of such tribunals. All of this she accepts, but then, thanks to a carefully crafted superstructure drawing together different theoretical literatures and … ten years of exacting research … [she] makes a compelling case for the ICTY's larger positive effects. Whether directly, indirectly, or sometimes negatively, it has fostered new assumptions about 'justice and accountability' among Bosnians, stirred the formation of civil-society groups determined to fight for these things, and helped create local court institutions capable of carrying on the work" -- Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs.


"This study of the influence of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia on society in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a must read for all those trying to understand the complicated system of international justice. After … years of research, conducting hundreds of interviews, Nettelfield has come up with some answers or at least identified certain crucial points that illuminate the different aspects of the international justice system, and pinpoint its weaknesses, what needs to be improved and what is good about it. The book is important for people in the region, but also for all those working in the international community who are trying to find answers to the complicated problems that still affect the region. Hopefully, this book will be translated into Bosnian and included into course material for universities throughout the region" -- Nidzara Ahmetasevic, Balkan Insight, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).


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