A Free City in the Balkans

A Free City in the Balkans: Reconstructing a Divided Society in Bosnia

I.B.Tauris, London (October 2009)

Following the brutal wars which raged in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Bosnia and Herzegovina was awkwardly partitioned into two governing entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. But there was one part of the country which could not be fitted into either category: the Brcko District, a strategically critical land-bridge between the two parts of the Bosnian Serb territory. This region was the subject of a highly unusual experiment: placed under a regime of internationally supervised government, Brcko became a 'free city', evoking the memory of Trieste or Danzig over fifty years ago. What has this experiment in state-building revealed about the history of this troubled corner of the Balkans - and its future? What lessons can be applied to conflict resolution in other parts of the world? And was the experiment successful or have the citizens of Brcko suffered further at the hands of the international community? A Free City in the Balkans investigates the rise and fall of Brcko and post-war Bosnia and investigates what lessons can be learned for international peacekeeping missions elsewhere.

  • “Matthew Parish's analysis is rigorous, clear-eyed and extremely persuasive ... the book is a terrific as well as important read”
  • “A vivid and at times very disturbing picture of multiple layers of institutional, cultural and political misunderstandings at all levels of Bosnian government”
  • “This is a story that needed to be told, not least because it is a story of our times – one of internationally-driven state-building in the contemporary context, and all of the inherent problems associated with such projects. ... a timely and valuable addition to the existing literature”
  • “a story of the problems that internationally driven state-building in failed states faces: dis-appointment, betrayal and illusions. … of interest to anyone interested in pitfalls and success of liberal peace and ethics of building”
  • “a substantive and thoughtful contribution to the literature on the international intervention and involvement in the Balkans … will provoke thoughtful reevaluation that even the most read and informed observer of developments in Bosnia will be forced to consider”
  • “[Your book] is written with so much of emotion, not to say frustration and bitterness that it becomes more a caricature of reality than a compilation of well considered observations and opinions. ... The result is a book full of twisted truths, half-truths and blatant lies”

First book, discussing the work of a public international law arbitration tribunal: the Arbitral Tribunal for the Dispute over the Inter-Entity Boundary in the Brčko Area, of which the author was one of the principal officers.


Mirages of International Justice

Mirages of International Justice: The Elusive Pursuit of a Transnational Legal Order

Edward Elgar, London (May 2011)

Since the end of the Cold War there has been an explosion of international courts and tribunals that sit apart from domestic legal systems, yet they are often woefully inadequate for their stated purposes. This book explores common problems across these courts, and applies a constructivist theory of international relations to explain their operation. Often established by states as signals of their commitment to moral values and political ideology, once created these courts find themselves trapped between the interests of the Great Powers. Some endure irrelevance, their judgements ignored. Yet more are unusably slow. Still others exhibit demonstrable political bias. Their common failings suggest that international law is not nearly as robust as it claims. The author skilfully shows that international courts are a species of international organisation, and share the same challenges of bureaucracy and unaccountability as have plagued the United Nations. Mirages of International Justice will be of particular interest to scholars and practitioners interested in critiques of the European Court of Human Rights, the World Trade Organisation, investment treaty arbitration, the EU courts, the international criminal courts, the International Court of Justice and public international law in general. Students of international relations and advocates for reform of international organisations will also learn much from this insightful study.

  • “This is a book of unusual power and insight. Parish's deconstruction of the illusory promise of international justice may make uneasy reading but it is a necessary addition to the literature in this field”
  • “This book issues the latest blast against the crumbling battlements of the cloud-fortress of international law.  Meticulous, engaging, and forcefully written, the book offers little consolation for defenders amid the ruins”
  • "This is an excellent book … insightful and intelligent about international law and the international organizations who purport to administer it … without the cynicism one might expect from someone who has been through the system"

Second book, comparing structural failures in different international courts and tribunals. Applies the insights of realism and constructivism in international relations theory to international law. Compares the ECHR, investment tribunals, the ICJ, international criminal courts, the WTO and the EU courts.