Rethinking Local Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina – A Comparative Overview and Assessment of Community Governance Models and Practices in Croatia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina

23 Sep 2016


This comparative research project was undertaken to gain an insight into different modes of sub-municipal and community governance to inform future efforts on improving the work of local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It was carried out for UNDP as part of the project Strengthening the Role of Local Communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is financed jointly by the governments of Switzerland and Sweden and implemented by UNDP BiH.

The work of community and sub-municipal governance units in Croatia, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland was scrutinised with focus on their legal and institutional set-up, resources and the functions they perform. Desk research, legal analysis and surveys involving local government representatives and case study research were conducted in the four countries for this purpose. The gathered insights were then compared with the results of an empirical study on sub-municipal governance in BiH that was conducted in 2014 by the Center for Social Research ‘Analitika’.

A comparison of the five countries yielded a number of specific dilemmas related to the work of community/sub-municipal governance. One of them concerns the idea of community self-governance or ‘mjesna samouprava’, which is a term used to refer to such bodies in the legislation in Croatia, Serbia and BiH. The level of autonomy of such bodies is limited to a considerable extent in all three countries and therefore a discrepancy exists between the notion of self-governance and the extent of autonomy that such units are able to exert in practice.

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