Theses Master's

Testing Durability: Property Restitution and Refugee Return in Post Conflict Bosnia

Nelsen, Sean Robert

In post-conflict settings, a network of actors with differing agendas converge to engender a process of reestablishing a viable state. After the Bosnian War, the imposition of the Dayton Peace Accords fostered a post-conflict procedure to ensure the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The history of ethnic cleansing during the conflict created a unique set of spatial conditions that required a unique process for reconciliation. This thesis investigates the process of property restitution as a post-conflict reconciliation tool. Through understanding the complexities of the conditions produced by conflict and the landscape of post-conflict reconciliation, refugee return through property restitution can be better understood. The unique process and outcome of ethnic cleansing, the insistent international presence in post-conflict Bosnia, and the normative prescriptions for mass displacement amalgamate into a context that inspires the imposition of a property restitution regime. Through quantitative analyses using data concerning refugee return, property repossession claims, and sociodemographic change, I investigate the efficacy of the return-restitution nexus by municipalities in Bosnia. Regression analyses, population proportionality scores, and dissimilarity indices are the tools used to expose the impact of property restitution on refugee return, and the subsequent durability of these solutions for goals of reintegration. Through archival research and secondary sources, I aim to complement the results of the data analyses based on the lived-experiences of Bosnians in their post-conflict setting. The study concludes by applying the case of property restitution in Bosnia to the literature of post-conflict reconciliation, which is followed by recommendations on how to expand upon refugee return as a durable solution to displacement.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Devlin, Ryan T.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 11, 2020