This thesis examines the constraints placed upon the implementation of post-conflict peacebuilding. It argues that peacebuilding, as an approach to the long-term transformation of ethnic conflict, is severely limited by the values of dominant state-based politics. The international community's involvement, through such practices as humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping or NGO activities, ultimately signifies an extension of traditional realist approaches to inter-state conflict.
Taking post-conflict reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a case study, the thesis assesses in detail the potential and limits of peacebuilding, most notably in reference to the involvement of the international community. The values that prevail in the latter account for the fact that peacebuilding is primarily viewed in structural terms: as attempts to stabilise conflict and build new infrastructure and institutions. Important as such an
approach may be, particularly in the initial phase of reconstruction, it is unable to fully explore the important transformative and conciliatory tasks of peacebuilding: the need to build trust and tolerance after a period of intense conflict. A large number of NGOs are actively pursuing such transformative pathways in Bosnia. Some of these engagements have been highly successful, as this thesis will demonstrate, but the overall endeavour remains severely limited by factors such as funding restraints, donor interference and poor regulation. Recognising these restraints is an essential precondition for establishing a more successful humanitarian engagement in contemporary global politics.