Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has remained divided, weak and unstable since the end of the civil war in 1995. Economic growth has stagnated, and political and ethnic unity remains more elusive than at any time since the conflict. Political divisions on ethno-religious lines have favoured a status quo that hinders development of the country, while the group identities are being used in a way that keep the country divided into two almost separate states. High levels of unemployment and migration tendencies to Western Europe amongst youth highlight the overall lack of hope in the country’s future. In addition to these structural weaknesses, ethno-nationalist extremism presents a growing, more urgent threat, with divisive narratives promoted by certain political figures and by the media. This exists against a backdrop of fundamentalist Islam, which emerged in the recent years, but has been posited as entering a quieter and less controversial phase at present. At the same time, ethno-nationalist extremism presents a growing, more urgent threat.
Our work in Bosnia and Herzegovina was initiated in 2013, and the first wave that was completed in 2014 was designed to help partners better understand the inter-group dynamics between Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs in a very complex post-war governance environment. It was the first time we had used the SCORE outside of Cyprus, and provided an important test for our evidenced-based approach. Bosnia and Herzegovina was integral to the evolution of the SCORE methodology and it was this case that underpinned is participatory and context responsive calibration process. The project affirmed our belief that the SCORE was easily adaptable to different contexts, while maintaining its methodological rigour; and marked the first time we had assessed social cohesion for relationships between more than two groups and it was the first time Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping was used to inform our results.
The first wave of SCORE Bosnia and Herzegovina found that citizens of Republika Sprska mistrusted the complex and multi-layered institutions of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are perceived to be less efficient, and this helps explain Serb reluctance to support federalism and greater political integration. In response we recommended that a strategy be designed for increasing contact between Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats in daily life, as a way to dismantle intergroup prejudice. We also recommended that officials from the respective institutions of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Sprska engage in dialogue to consider what kind of public sector reforms could be implemented in both entities to support the harmonization of practices which would benefit all citizens, and perhaps pave the way for future shared institutional competencies.
In 2019, we renewed our efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and designed and recalibrated SCORE for the second time to collect a new wave of data. While SCORE Bosnia and Herzegovina Wave Two maintains comparability to the first wave, it also has a revised focus to ensure its contextual relevance that is enriched by the new and updated content framework and analysis toolkit SCORE now boasts after having rolled out the methodology in over 10 different countries since 2014. SCORE Bosnia and Herzegovina supports the efforts of USAID/OTI to strengthen community resilience and to help prevent violent extremism in its various forms by developing a greater understanding of citizenship in BiH. SCORE investigates how BiH citizenship is shaped by human capabilities by:
a) identifying the underlying drivers of constructive citizenship;
b) assessing the causes and risk factors of estrangement tendencies;
c) different forms of radicalization;
d) investigating the extent to which a real or imagined threat of other groups/ethnicities is driving ethno-nationalist or religious extremist tendencies (of all forms/towards all groups).
e) formulating evidence-based policy entry-points for fostering constructive citizenship.