RECOM: an Effective measure to improve Bosnia and Herzegovina


Currently Bosnia has problems that should be addressed such as poverty, unemployment, the segregated educational system, health care or corruption. At the same time, all these fields are what compose a society, therefore how can a society evolve if it is still deeply divided?


There has never been a Truth Commission to BiH. And perhaps the reason why Bosnia has stagnated since the end of the war relies exactly on the lack of a Truth Commission that will help people to reconcile with each other and move forward together for a better future. That said Recom is needed, as one, if not the main, way to improve Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole.


  • What is Recom?

Recom is a truth telling commission established by the successor States of Ex-Yugoslavia which main task is to establish the Facts about All Victims of War Crimes and Other Serious Human Rights Violations Committed on the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia from 1 January 1991 to 31 December 2001[1].The goal of Recom, as of any Truth Commission, is to change attitudes and beliefs in order to proceed to a societal transformation by bringing the truth. Without Truth there is no reconciliation, and without reconciliation Bosnia will always be divided and no stability will be reached in the region. Therefore it will be hard for a divided society to flow and overcome alarming problems in different fields such as employment, economy or politics. Most of all can EU – an instance that promotes stability – accept a deeply divided society as its member?


  • Why Recom?

In the Balkans, the States and ethnic groups are still denying that “their troops committed war crimes in an attempt to evade moral responsibility by blaming the other side, thwarting the possibility of reconciliation”[2]. There is no reconciliation without truth hence no future without reconciliation. In fact, “Reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia will be hard to achieve while war criminals are still treated as heroes”[3].The ICTY-situation only highlights the need for Recom, a truth telling commission in which people can trust in order to build a stronger civil society.


Reconciliation matters both personally and societally speaking. Forgiveness requires hard work and people’s will to forgive those who once hurt them. The Balkans need to learn how to deal with the past and face the facts in order to reach a societal reconciliation and become able to trust their neighbours seen as of today as enemies. There is no truth and reconciliation where there is oppression, mistrust and resentment.


  • How Effective could Recom be?

When the past is denied or left behind as if the war crimes, the suffering and traumas generated had never happened, Reconciliation becomes hard to achieve. What Bosnia needs is a societal transformation in order to evolve in every fields composing its civil society. On a study about the effectiveness of Truth Commissions, James L. Gibson reveals that a Truth Commission is effective as it can contribute to a societal transformation like it did in South Africa following the Apartheid. In South Africa for example, it is because of the Truth Commission that people tend to be more reconciled with the country’s past and with each other. Eventually this reconciliation was crucial in the South African transition as it produced a “secure, consolidated, democratic process in a system (in terms of either culture or institutions)[4]. Truth and Reconciliation are linked therefore Recom is the most effective way for both Truth-telling and reconciliation in the Balkans.


  • How to make Recom effective?

On his article, Gibson focuses on two crucial factors that make a truth commission effective that we could apply to Recom:


  1. Recom has to be able to attract the attention of the citizens giving legitimate information about the past but also information about political activity in the future as for example better prospects in EU integration, but also in the economical, societal and juridical fields.


  1. Recom must be perceived as a legitimate entity among citizens of the Balkans. In other words, people have to be able to trust Recom as a truth-telling body. Recom must focus on changing the society and not primarily on the needs of victims and perpetrators as “truth commissions are most effective when they attempt to transform a society rather than focus primarily on the needs of victims and perpetrators[5]. Moreover, according to Gibson the victimisation should stop as “Truth commissions, whose primary concern is to punish perpetrators and appease victims, are unlikely to have broader social influence[6].


In order to overcome the past a Truth Commission such as Recom would be the most effective way in order to change people’s behaviour and help them work together in building a stronger State in different fields of civil society in BiH.

Author: Vitoria Galli, student at University of Kent and Intern at YIHR BiH







[1] Koalicija za Rekom

[2] Tregoures, L. (2017)

[3] Angelovski, A. (2017)

[4] Gibson, J. L. (2009)

[5] Gibson, J. L. (2009)

[6] Gibson, J. L. (2009)