srijeda, 23. studenoga 2011.

Open Letter to International Lawyer and International Relations Expert, Matthew T. Parish

Matthew Parish is an international lawyer, but not just any international lawyer. In the preface to his 2011 book “Mirages of International Justice: The Elusive Pursuit of Transnational Legal Order”, Matthew Parish writes among other things that: “[i]nternational courts exist purporting to mete out international justice. Yet this image, so carefully cultivated, is a charade. International courts exist not to resolve disputes, but to cement their ever tenuous positions and pursue the growth of yet more international law.” So, he is actually a cynical international lawyer, which corresponds well with one of the positions he holds, as indicated in his professional biography, that of a Co-Chair of the International Law Association’s Committee on the Accountability of International Organizations. Phew. It is quite surprising that Matthew, who is in his mid- or late thirties now and has not been around for too long, has become so cynical and distrustful of the Lady (International) Justice. Let us then try to track the origins of this disillusionment.

In the preface to his above-mentioned book, he goes back to the time when he first became interested in international law and writes: “I first became interested in international law, and by extension the international organizations that propagate it, when I worked for two such institutions. One was World Bank (until 2005); the other was the Office of the High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina (until 2007).” Combining the results of empirical and theoretical research, Matthew concludes: “In time, I came to realise that absence of legal or any other kind of accountability was a recurrent feature of international organizations... they are unpleasant places to work. Unaccountable to anyone, their managers setting their own direction without reference to national or international law or the wishes or interests of their donors, staff become freed from the common decencies expected in civilized workplaces... Sexual and other sorts of harassment are known to be rife, as are corruption and nepotism.” Whether this specifically refers to OHR or WB or both remains unclear. However, there is no doubt that from late 2007 until now, Matthew excessively commented on the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo and did not even make a passing reference to the World Bank in Washington D.C. Let us then have a look at the nature of his writings.  

Shortly after leaving the OHR, more precisely in December 2007, Matthew published an article entitled “The Demise of the Dayton Protectorate” in Journal of Intervention and State Building in which he basically argued that the Office of the High Representative should close its doors as “colonial dictatorship is no longer an appropriate mode of engagement”. His principal objection to this institution, as espoused in the article, concerns its practice of dismissal of public officials believed to obstruct implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement without due process, which in Matthew’s view, is the overarching human rights and democratic issue in the post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina. His dislike for “the international colonial governor” and the use of the so called Bonn powers was instantly picked up by the Republika Srpska Government, which, in its 2008 Report to the UN Security Council wrote: “Understandably, the continued use of peremptory decree and removal powers some thirteen years after the end of hostilities – has also been much criticized by legal and international relations scholars and experts. Critics include former international officials who have served in BiH.” Matthew’s name is mentioned only in the footnote, but by the time Republika Srpska dispatched its fifth and sixth reports to the UN Security Council in May and November 2011 respectively, former Chief Legal Advisor to the International Supervisor of Brčko, Matthew T. Parish made it to the body of the report.[1]  In this period (from 2009 to 2011),  Matthew published a series of articles and reports such as “Republika Srpska – After Independence”, “Milorad Dodik and the politics of referendum”, “Serb Machiavelli Has Bosnia’s Future in His Hands”, “The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina faces ‘inevitable collapse’”, “The silent passing of Bosnian proconsulship”, “The unfortunate case of Dragomir Andan” and even “Kosovo Ruling Reveals World Court’s Darker Side”, which eerily coincide with the priorities on the RS Government agenda such as closure of the OHR, undermining of the state institutions, non-recognition of Kosovo, to name only a few. By ticking all these boxes on the RS Government agenda, Matthew made a successful transition from a disillusioned and cynical international lawyer to an overly enthusiastic mouthpiece of the Government of Republika Srpska. No mean feat in itself!   

For Matthew, the former cynic, the issues such as RS independence, “collapse” of the State Court and silent passing of “High Representatives’ tyranny” all have a ring of inevitability to them. Without going into much detail, suffice it to say that this legal and international relations scholar and expert wrote in November 2009 that “[a] new state – ‘Republika Srpska’ - is shortly to be born in South Eastern Europe, the eighth to emerge from the bloody Yugoslavian wars of the 1990s” while only a year earlier he wrote: “Unification of Bosnia into a reasonably centralised state will come in time, because the geographic logic of Bosnia's unification is compelling: the shape of the RS precludes it from being a credible contiguous independent territory.” So much for his consistency! From criticizing the institution of the OHR, Matthew shifts his attention to its staff: “OHR’s employees have become bloated and lazy on the arrogance of unrestrained power; and no capable international official would take a job in so decrepit an institution. OHR remains a slow form of career suicide.” He then advises that “[c]losure of OHR must involve dismissal of all OHR staff. They have been working there for years, and they are still living in the Paddy Ashdown era. They are bloated on the arrogance of power, and are responsible for many of the worst abuses committed by OHR.” Now, going back to Matthew’s comment about international organizations being “unpleasant places to work”, it is clear that Mr Parish found it professionally unfulfilling, to say the least, to work for OHR, but one does not have to be a member of the OHR staff to realize that this is more of a vendetta-style language than scholarly constructive criticism.

Finally, with your permission dear international lawyer based in Geneva and distinguished Co-Chair of the International Law Association’s Committee on the Accountability of International Organizations, let me ask you a civilized question:

Who are you accountable to?  

[1] The Fifth Report of Republika Srpska to the United Nations Security Council reads: “As summarized by Matthew Parish, the former head of one of the legal departments at the OHR, the High Representative’s legal mandate under Annex 10 is to be ‘a manager of the international community’s post conflict peace building efforts, and a mediator between the domestic parties.’ Any good-faith reading of Annex 10 support Mr. Parrish’s view of the limited scope provided to the High Representative by its legal mandate.” The Sixth Report again quotes Mr. Parish: “As Parish, the former OHR attorney, has recognized, the PIC’s Bonn declaration ‘ran quite contrary to the spirit and text of Annex 10 to the [Dayton Accords] and was legally quite indefensible.’” 

srijeda, 9. studenoga 2011.

Once Brothers

Nakon sarajevske premijere filma „Once Brothers“ u februaru ove godine, na pitanje o tome na čiju inicijativu je došlo do snimanja ovog filma, Vlade Divac odgovara: „Film je snimljen na inicijativu Diona Cocorosa, koji je inače producent u NBA Entertainmentu. On je došao sa idejom, jer je znao celu situaciju sa igračima sa naših prostora. Ja sam je podržao, a iskren da budem nisam verovao da će uspeti da dočaraju baš kako je bilo i da pošalju prave poruke kroz film“. A da li je dočarano „baš kako je bilo“ i da li su poslane „prave poruke kroz film“?

Dion Cocoros ovako pojašnjava kako je nastao film: „Divac might not be there in terms of star power, but his story is unmatched... How many people fall out of friendship with their best friend and aren't able to reconcile with them because they die? Plus with a war surrounding them and, oh, by the way coming from these postage stamp-sized towns in Yugoslavia to make it to the NBA. Essentially, his story is almost unmatched... It's almost surreal how many layers there are.“

Krenimo zato sloj po sloj. Cocoros kaže između ostalog kako su Vlade Divac i Dražen Petrović bili najbolji prijatelji. Da vidimo šta na tu temu kažu njihovi bivši saigrači iz reprezentacije. Nakon projekcije filma u Zagrebu, Dino Rađa se našalio da je sa Divcem dok su igrali zajedno za reprezentaciju više puta spavao u sobi nego sa tadašnjom djevojkom. Stojko Vranković svoje druženje sa Petrovićem opisuje ovako: „Upoznali smo se 1980. godine u kadetskoj reprezentaciji bivše države i to se druženje nastavilo u juniorima i seniorima. Većinom, ne i uvijek, bili smo cimeri...“ Zdravko Radulović kaže: „Dok smo svi bili u reprezentaciji, Draženov i njegov odnos nije bio toliko blizak. Svima nama u ekipi je Dražen, koji je bio nešto stariji i već je igrao za Real Madrid, bio idol. Vjerujem da su se sprijateljili tek u Americi kad su otišli igrati u NBA jer im je zajedno bilo lakše u tom novom svijetu“. Zdovc nakon odgledanog filma dodaje da jesu bili prijatelji i da je to braća više onako „glamurozno, filmski...“

Nakon sjajnih igara Petrovića, Divca, Kukoča, Rađe, Paspalja, Zdovca i ostalih igrača na svjetskom prvenstvu u Argentini 1990. godine gdje su bili nedodirljivi za sve suparnike, došao je rat. Koji nam u u ovom filmu pojašnjava niko drugi do Gordon N. Bardos, profesor sa Univerziteta Kolumbija, kako je predstavljen u filmu. Ono što se ne kaže jeste to da se radi o čovjeku koji je 1997. godine, nakon što je „Oslobođenje“ objavilo slike na kojima pobjedonosno uzdiže tri prsta na ulazu u Pale i u Pravoslavnoj crkvi ljubi zastavu Republike Srpske, naprasno napustio funkciju zamjenika direktora za obuku glasača u sjedištu OSCE-a u Sarajevu gdje je radio kao službenik NATO-a. Bardos u filmu, očekivano, kaže sljedeće: „I think it's fair to say that the international community largely held Serbia responsible for the wars in Croatia and in Bosnia, but it was not a black-and-white struggle. War crimes were committed on all sides and ethnic cleansing was being committed by all sides...“ Ako je odabir naslova bio „filmski, glamurozan“ što se svakako može razumjeti zbog potrebe da se privuče što veći broj gledalaca, zar se nije mogao naći neko manje pristrasan da kaže par riječi o genezi ratova u Hrvatskoj i Bosni i Hercegovini?! Mislim kad se NBA Entertainment već potrudio da se u filmu pojave Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Joe Dumars, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler i ostali...

Sam Divac kaže u jednom intervjuu kako je film namijenjen američkom tržištu. Uspon Petrovića i Divca, koji su svoje prve košarkaške korake napravili u Šibeniku i Prijepolju, do NBA zvijezda predstavlja ostvarenje američkog sna, što je trebalo doprinijeti još većoj gledanosti filma. Da vidimo onda kako je film doživio prosječni američki gledalac, naravno ne računajući one historičare amatere, i usput košarkaške znalce, srpskog ili hrvatskog porijekla. Velika većina onih koji komentarišu raspad prijateljstva između ove dvojice košarkaških velikana Divca vidi u suštini kao pozitivca, a Petrovića kao negativca. Pa tako jedan kaže: „It was a pain to hear how the two principals fell out over geography, ethnicity, and international politics. The falling out was probably the fault of neither, or perhaps both. Divac, at least, apparently tried to mend the breach, but never was able to.“ Drugi gledalac ide čak korak dalje i veli: „After watching this I truly feel sorry for Dražen in that he was so shallow of a friend...“

Da zaključim, ako je namjera bila da se kroz priču o dvojici sjajnih košarkaša ispriča jedna veća, mnogo zamršenija priča o dešavanjima koja se dotiču svih nas na prostoru bivše Jugoslavije, onda se onim dijelovima filma koji se tiču brata Petrovića trebalo pristupiti mnogo opreznije, pogotovo imajući u vidu činjenicu da Dražen nažalost nije više među nama. To je taj sloj koji nedostaje. Jer svi mi znamo da je Dražen svima bio idol, da je u evropskim finalima davao po 60 koševa, da kao najbolji evropski igrač u to vrijeme nije smatran dovoljno dobrim da bi imao više minuta na terenu u Portlandu od prosječnih bekova Terry Portera i isluženog Danny Aingea, da ni najboljem svih vremena Michael Jordanu nije bilo lako čuvati ga... Novinarka E-novina Žarka Radoja piše: „Iako se insistira na velikom prijateljstvu dvojice košarkaša teško je povjerovati da je njihov privatni razlaz bio uzrokovan samo bacanjem te zastave, bez želje da se nakon toga o bilo čemu dodatno razgovara i razjasni.“ Mislim da je pored svih drugih okolnosti na koje nisu mogli uticati ni jedan ni drugi, razlazu kumovao stav Divca koji govoreći o intervenciji povodom dešavanja na Kosovu u emisiji Larry King Live, bez ustezanja nalazi krivce u NATO-u i teroristima iz Oslobodilačke vojske Kosova, dok su samo par godina ranije za granatiranje Šibenika krivi političari i propagandna mašinerija. I ne vidi ništa pogrešno u tome. Ni dan danas.    

četvrtak, 3. studenoga 2011.

Some background information to Milorad Dodik's address entitled “An American Foreign Policy Success Story: The Dayton Accords, Republika Srpska, and Bosnia’s European Integration” at the Columbia University in New York

On October 25th 2011, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik was scheduled to deliver an address entitled “An American Foreign Policy Success Story: The Dayton Accords, Republika Srpska, and Bosnia’s European Integration” at the Columbia University in New York. On the day of the event some persons who had their RSVPs confirmed earlier were denied access to the Faculty Room of Low Library where the event was to take place with no explanation given. The invitation read: “To RSVP, please contact Ms Catherine Brooks at” Now, I do not know whether Ms Brooks was on hand to give an explanation to people who were turned back from the door, but it seems not to have been the case. In absence of any official explanation, suspicions were raised that those turned back from the door were persons with non-Serb names.

Going back to the invitation, it read: “On behalf of the Harriman Institute and the Njegos Endowment for Serbian Language and Culture at Columbia University, we would like to invite you...” As for the Njegos Endowment for Serbian Language and Culture, we learn from its newsletter dated March 14, 2003 that “[t]he meetings that we host are most often initiated and organized by Professor Radmila Gorup... and by Harriman Institute Assistant Director Gordon N. Bardos.” Now, let us assume for a moment that the persons were indeed prevented from attending this talk based on their ethnicity and look at what Harriman Institute Assistant Director Gordon N. Bardos recently had to say on the issue of ethnicity in Bosnia and Herzegovina in general and the issue of mixed marriages in particular.

In his article “In Defense of Richard Holbrooke” published by Transconflict on March 2nd 2011 (, Gordon N. Bardos writes: “... That the “ethnification” of Bosnian society happened long before Richard Holbrooke came along is most apparent in the record regarding the most intimate of human relationships – marriage. Despite the myth of high levels of interethnic marriage in Bosnia and Herzegovina frequently expounded in the media, Bosnian social reality has throughout history been quite the opposite. In nineteenth century Bosnia, mixed marriages were completely unheard of. As late as 1988, ninety-three percent of Bosniacs married endogenously, and Croats and Serbs were not much more inclined to marry outside their ethnic groups either. In 2001 in the Herzegovinian town of Mostar, out of 176 recorded marriages, not a single one was between a Croat and a Bosniac...”

Next, at the panel discussion on the book entitled “Bosnia Remade” by Gerard Toal and Carl T. Dahlman, which took place on April 19, 2011, arguments made by discussant Gordon N. Bardos were summarized by Gerard Toal as follows ( “The authors hold a constructivist position that underestimates the power of ethnicity. While ethnicity was not the primordial axis of life in BiH it was the primary one. Ethnicity predicts two-thirds of the time who one will marry, what attitudes one will have, etc.” Bardos revisits the issue of “interethnic marriage” in his article for National Interest entitled “Fetishes and Fantasies in Bosnia” published on August 11, 2011 ( Bardos uses almost identical language as in the Transconflict article arguing that “[m]ixed marriages in nineteenth century Bosnia were unheard of, and despite the myth of high levels of interethnic marriage propagated in the 1990s, remained rare throughout Bosnia’s twentieth-century history. As late as 1988, for instance, 93 percent of Bosnia’s Muslims married within their ethnic group, and Bosnia’s Croat and Serb Christians were not much more inclined to intermarry...”

With this kind of background information, it seems quite likely that in this case ethnicity predicted who will attend RS President’s talk entitled “An American Foreign Policy Success Story: The Dayton Accords, Republika Srpska, and Bosnia’s European Integration”. And who will not.