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.’” 

1 komentar:

  1. In the interests of full disclosure, it should be made clear that the author of this attack upon me formerly worked for the Office of the High Representative, and now works for the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These are two institutions of which I am deeply critical in both my second book ("Mirages of International Justice", which he discusses) and my first book ("A Free City in the Balkans"). It is therefore possible that he is guilty of the partiality of which he accuses me. The difference between us is that I am open about my identity and my affiliations, whereas he is not.

    Those who wish to form a their own view of the quality of my writings are invited to read my books for themselves.

    Matthew Parish