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Commodifying security in the Balkans: Between liberal norms and illiberal practices



This paper contributes to an understanding of the processes of contestation and localisation of norms in post-conflict societies via a Bourdieu-inspired analysis of the process of security privatisation in two former Yugoslav countries: Bosnia and Serbia. By drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of field, habitus, capital and strategies, this paper sheds light on the ways in which, in Bosnia as well as in Serbia, a particular habitus and forms of capital inherited from these polities’ violent past have shaped the implementation of the liberal project of security privatisation. The result has been a situation in which legislation and institutions aimed at promoting a liberal model of security provision co-exist with practices that are inconsistent with liberal-democratic principles of accountability and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Commodifying security in the Balkans: between
liberal norms and illiberal practices
Alexandra Gheciu
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, FSS 6037, 120 University
Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5 Canada.
This paper contributes to an understanding of the processes of contestation and localisa-
tion of norms in post-conict societies via a Bourdieu-inspired analysis of the process of
security privatisation in two former Yugoslav countries: Bosnia and Serbia. By drawing
on Bourdieus concepts of eld, habitus, capital and strategies, this paper sheds light on
the ways in which, in Bosnia as well as in Serbia, a particular habitus and forms of capital
inherited from these politiesviolent past have shaped the implementation of the liberal
project of security privatisation. The result has been a situation in which legislation
and institutions aimed at promoting a liberal model of security provision co-exist with
practices that are inconsistent with liberal-democratic principles of accountability and
respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Journal of International Relations and Development (2015) 18, 288310.
Keywords: Bosnia; liberalisation; security privatisation; Serbia
When the former Yugoslav polities nally emerged from the violent conicts of the
1990s and under close international scrutiny embarked upon processes of
reform, the general expectation was that they would eventually evolve into Western-
style established liberal democracies. Yet, some 20 years later, there is a growing
body of empirical evidence and an increasingly rich academic literature that
seem to indicate a more complicated and problematic set of developments. As the
Introduction to this special issue indicates, while in the 1990s and early 2000s the
focus of the academic literature on post-conict reconstruction was on the issues of
external socialisation (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998; Risse et al. 1999; Hooghe 2005;
Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005), in recent years there is a growing emphasis
on the domestic side of the equation including critical analyses of local resistance
and other domestic obstacles to norm dissemination (Noutcheva 2009; Richmond
2010; Elbasani 2013).
This paper seeks to contribute to an examination of the processes of contestation
and localisation of norms in post-conict societies via a Bourdieu-inspired analysis
of practices through which international norms are appropriated, adapted and
Journal of International Relations and Development, 2015,18, (288310)
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1408-6980/15
sometimes resisted by local actors. My focus is on a specic aspect of the process of
liberalisation: the partial privatisationofsecurityintwoformerYugoslavstates,
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. In many post-conict societies, the rise of
private security providers has been a key, if often under-analysed, aspect of security
sector reform. More broadly, the triumph of neo-liberal norms in recent decades has
legitimised a systematic process of security privatisation in many parts of the
world. Neo-liberalism, extolling the virtues of the market, holds that to govern less
is to govern better (Rose and Miller 1992; Dean 1999). As a corollary to that,
neo-liberal norms enlist the powers of private actors in strategies of governance, (re)
constituting them as not simply the subjects of power but also active participants in its
operation. In the eld of security, neo-liberal processes of decentralisation and
fragmentation of governance translate into norms that legitimise the involvement of
private actors in the provision of that fundamental public good conventionally
associated with the state: security (Garland 2001: 124). Empowered by those norms,
in the past couple of decades private actors (particularly private security companies
(PSCs)) have come to perform functions ranging from the provision of security for
individuals and businesses to the protection of critical infrastructure and the
maintenance of public order. In essence, neo-liberal societies have witnessed a process
of commodication through which many aspects of what was conventionally regarded
as the quintessential public good security come to be purchased/sold on the
market (Krahmann 2003; Avant 2005; Abrahamsen and Williams 2011; Leander
2013). While many governments around the world portray this process as the key to
enhanced efciency in the area of security provision, there is an important body of
literature on PSCs that draws attention to what it perceives as the danger of abusive
behaviour by those actors (Leander 2005; Percy 2007; Spearin 2008; Pingeot 2012).
In the cases of Bosnia and Serbia, too, the processes of liberalisation have involved
signicant privatisation of security, but this transformation has been complicated
systematically by the power and strategies of a series of local actors. By drawing on
Bourdieus work, this paper sheds new light on the nature and consequences of the
dynamics of translating the liberal project of security privatisation in those states.
Above all, Bourdieus understanding of social elds helps us understand the ways in
which a given habitus (as a set of conceptual and practical dispositions) inherited
from the past shaped the manner in which security privatisation was implemented in
the former Yugoslav polities. This led to the emergence of practices that are
inconsistent with liberal-democratic principles of respect for human rights and the
rule of law and accountability for actors involved in the provision of public goods.
Those practices revolve around the empowerment of networks of security profes-
sionals that own or manage PSCs but are also connected, in complex and deeply
problematic ways, with the state.
Bosnia and Serbia are interesting case studies because, while they share powerful
legacies (the Yugoslav communist regime and the history of recent conict), they are
also different in important ways. Consequently, a study of these two cases reveals the
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
ways in which the dissemination of liberal norms and resistance to those norms
occur in different contexts in the Balkans. Thus, while Serbia emerged from the
Yugoslav wars as an independent state, Bosnia continues to be under international
administration though the nature and power of that administration has changed
signicantly in recent years. Therefore, the processes of liberalisation in those two
polities have been signicantly different in terms of the actors engaged in the reform
process, and the social, economic and political contexts in which those actors have
had to operate. Particularly interesting for our purposes is the fact that, through
the direct intervention of international administrators, legislative reform could be
achieved much faster in Bosnia than in Serbia. In spite of that difference, however, in
both countries the persistence of dispositions and forms of capital associated with the
Yugoslav conicts has shaped the actual implementation of the project of security
privatisation, generating a series of deeply problematic practices.
The paper proceeds as follows: in the next section, I introduce the core
Bourdieusian concepts and explain how they can help us place security privatisation
within the broader context of an evolving eld of security; the subsequent sections
apply those concepts to developments related to security privatisation in Bosnia and
Serbia. For this project, I have used a combination of methods and data sources. In an
effort to minimise the danger of bias, I only used information that was conrmed by
at least two different sources. To capture practices of security provision, I conducted
more than 30 interviews with practitioners occupying diverse positions in both Serbia
and Bosnia (government ofcials, international institutions ofcials, owners/man-
agers/directors of local and global PSCs, as well as representatives of NGOs).
Through these interviews, I sought to understand the nature of security practices in
Bosnia and Serbia; to do so, I asked interviewees to describe their daily practices, as
well as the activities of their colleagues and other security professionals (Adler-
Nissen 2013; Pouliot 2013). These interviews also helped me grasp the dispositional
logic of practices by uncovering the tacit knowledge that makes everyday security
practices possible (Pouliot 2013). These are the unspoken assumptions that practi-
tioners need to know in order to understand what is going on in the eld of security
and how to operate in that eld. I sought to gain access to that information by
presenting different scenarios/security-related developments and inviting the inter-
viewees to translatethose developments: to explain how they would interpret and
react to them. In addition to the data obtained through interviews, I also conducted an
analysis of documents that offer accounts of everyday security practices. These
include documents issued by international institutions describing their involvement
in seeking to regulate PSCs in Bosnia, reports issued by NGOs and members of think
tanks, as well as accounts provided by investigative journalists, especially the
transnational network of journalists that work within the framework of the
Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Furthermore,
I relied on the above-mentioned interviews and on the discourse inscribed in written
accounts (especially those produced by NGOs and think tanks) of security
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
privatisation to uncover the evolution of the eld over the past two decades, its
prevailing rules of the game, forms of capital and links to other elds.
Social elds, power and strategies
In developing this analysis, I am building on the work of a series of scholars who
have applied Bourdieusian categories to international politics (Williams 2007;
Mérand and Pouliot 2008; Abrahamsen and Williams 2011; Leander 2011; Adler-
Nissen 2013). The work of Bourdieu is relevant to our study because his concepts
enable us to develop an analysis that escapes the dichotomy between agency and
structure (Leander 2011). Thus, by employing Bourdieus concepts, we can explore
both the strategic behaviour of actors involved in security provision in Bosnia and
Serbia and the ways in which those strategies are shaped by the social context in
which actors operate. Particularly relevant for our purposes are Bourdieus concepts
of eld, capital and strategies (Bourdieu 1998). For Bourdieu, eld is analogous to
game in that it is a socially constructed, historically specic domain of activity that is
governed by a specic set of rules (Bourdieu 1990; Williams 2007; Leander 2011).
From a Bourdieusian perspective, there are different forms of capital that actors
employ in their social practices; those forms of capital are specic to particular social
elds, but under certain circumstances they can also be converted across elds
(Williams 2012: 314). Fields are social constructs that come into being, are sustained
and reproduced by the willingness of agents to participate in them, play by the rules
of the gamethat prevail in each eld, and believe in the value of playing that game
(Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 19). Each eld is characterised by the fact that agents
that operate in it share an often unarticulated understanding of the rules of the game,
and a common sense of what is at stake within that eld (Leander 2008:15). To
understand how actors come to share a common senseof what is at stake within a
particular social eld, one needs to focus on the operation of what Bourdieu calls
habitus. The habitus, which is acquired by actors through the occupation of particular
social positions, inclines them to perceive the world and act within that world
in particular ways. Thus, habitus is the result of socialisation of individuals into
particular ways of seeing, feeling and behaving, and is at once a system of models
for the production of practices and a system of models for the perception and
appreciation of practices(Bourdieu 1990: 131). The structured dispositions
associated with the habitus are durable given that they operate at the semi-
conscious level, where it is difcult to reect on and modify them; however, we
should not conclude that they are carved in stone (Williams 2007: 27).
The logics of specic social elds are not xed; rather, they are shaped system-
atically by the logics of other elds particularly the state, as a meta-eld (Leander
2008: 16). In addition to meta-transformations, elds also change as a result of
internal struggles. Thus, while actors share a sense of what is at stake in the game in
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
each eld, they are also engaged in permanent competitions with other actors in an
effort to advance their positions within that eld. In other words, elds can be seen as
battlegrounds (Leander 2008: 17), in which the positional struggles in which the
players are engaged compel them to work to enhance the value of the capital that they
possess. Capital consists of the resources that actors can mobilise in order to act
successfully in a given eld, and in particular to exercise symbolic power. Thus,
according to Bourdieu, elds are loci of symbolic power: the power to constitute the
given by stating it, to act upon the world by acting upon the representation of the
world(Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 116). Each eld is characterised and shaped
by particular forms of capital. As Thompson has pointed out:
There are many different forms of capital: not only economic capitalin the strict
sense (i.e. material wealth in the form of money, stocks, and shares) but also
cultural capital (i.e. knowledge, skill, and other cultural acquisitions, as exempli-
ed by educational or technical qualications), symbolic capital (i.e. accumulated
prestige or honour), and so on. (Thompson cited in Williams 2007: 32)
Bourdieu assigns a special position to symbolic capital because, as Guzzini has
pointed out, capital is never only in material or ideational resources but in the
recognition it encounters in agents. In short, symbolic capital is the form that any
capital will take if it is recognised that is, perceived through those very
conceptual categories which are, however, themselves the effect of the distribution
of capitals in the eld(Guzzini 2013: 81).
In an effortto enhance their position within a giveneld, players can and often do
seek to change the relative value attributed to specic forms of capital through
discrediting the form of capital upon which the forceof their opponents rests(Bourdieu
and Wacquant 1992: 99), and increasing the value of the forms of capital that they
possess. In addition, players can also attempt to import capital from other elds, and can
seek to inuence the overall understanding of the rules of the game and the stakes
involved in an effort to (re)structure the eld to their advantage. While Bourdieu relies
heavily on concepts like interests and strategies, he is far from attributing to these
concepts the meanings that they have in game theory accounts of strategic behaviour
(Bourdieu 1998: 81). Rather, interests and strategies are always socially constructed
within specicelds and, as such, both enable the functioning of the eld and constitute
a product of the way in which the eld functions(Williams 2012: 314).
A focus on the complexities of social practices and the multiple relations between
material, cultural and symbolic factors allow an exploration of the ways in which
capital can be converted and exported across elds, and how any given social eld
can be inuenced by developments in other elds. For our purposes, a Bourdieusian
analysis is particularly useful because it enables us to shed light on the ways in which
the eld of security is being (re)constituted and struggled over in post-conict
polities, in part through practices related to privatisation. Both in Bosnia and in Serbia
albeit in different ways security privatisation was legitimised and affected
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
profoundly by the processes of liberalisation that transcended the eld of security.
In particular, the processes of transition to a market economy that were carried out
in post-war Serbia and Bosnia changed the categories of vision and division(Guzzini
2013: 87) in multiple elds including the eld of security, empowering commercial
actors, endowing them with epistemic power and inscribing it in a new doxa that
authorises the arguments and capital of commercial actors (Leander 2005, 2011). Thus,
doxic transformations in the eld of security in the two countries empowered private
security professionals, authorising them to participate systematically in the provision of
security function traditionally attributed to the state.
To understand the specic ways in which security professionals performed this
new role, we need, once again, to analyse the ways in which the eld of security has
been shaped by broader changes. Both in Bosnia and in Serbia, the eld of security is
not a completely autonomous eld with clearly demarcated borders. Rather, it is a
eld that has been shaped signicantly by developments in other elds, particularly
the eld of economy. In both cases, one can speak of a partial interpenetration of the
economic and security elds in a situation in which networks of private security
professionals with close links to the state were able to transfer into the security eld
capital acquired as a result of transformations in the eld of economy (particularly the
rapid and awed privatisation of state assets). This has also led to a situation in which
the logic typically associated with the economic eld (nancial gain) has become
almost as important to security providers as the logic of security provision.
In Serbia, the corrupt privatisation process in the 1990s led to the emergence of a
reserved domainin the private security sector, which was excluded from systematic
reforms and democratic oversight and in which there were strong, illegitimate links
between the owners of PSCs, political parties and senior public ofcials (Petrović
2010). In Bosnia, despite the presence of international administration, the process of
privatisation was also awed, leading to a situation in which individuals who had
occupied inuential positions during the war were able to gain control over important
public assets and to emerge, after Dayton, as powerful owners or managers of PSCs
(Azinovićet al. 2011). This meant that the process of liberalisation in the eld of
security was complicated by the networks of politically connected security profes-
sionals who owned or managed PSCs. These actors invoked the new neo-liberal
discourse to cast themselves as legitimate and efcient (private) security providers, but
who, at the same time, were able to use the sources ofcapital derived from their links to
the state to reproduce illiberal practices and secure signicant economic gains.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: the limits of international power in the eld of
It is well-known that, following the conclusion of the Dayton Accord in 1995,
complex international administration was established in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
empowering international actors to perform functions that went far beyond
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
conventional peacekeeping (Paris 2002; Caplan 2005; Gheciu 2005; Zaum 2007).
Whether one regards the governance practices conducted within the framework of
international administration as relatively benign efforts at turning the country into a
stable, Western-style liberal democracy (Ignatieff 2003) or as an unacceptable
version of neo-colonialism (Chandler 2006), there can be little doubt that, in post-
Dayton Bosnia, international actors came to perform a series of roles traditionally
attributed to the sovereign state.
As Bourdieu explains, it is the prerogative of the
state which represents the culmination of a process of concentration of various
forms of capital to interfere in all elds, to impose and enforce regulations
concerning organizations or the behaviour of individual agents(Bourdieu 1998:
33). In Bosnia, the function of enforcing regulations has been performed, in different
elds and in many instances, by the international administrators. At the heart of
international governance practices, there have been the attempts to transform the
security sector in a situation in which this sector is regarded widely as vital to the
stability of the country and of the entire region.
Not surprisingly, the dynamics and consequences of international efforts to
promote Western-prescribed reforms in the security sector have been the subject of
increasingly sophisticated accounts (Flessenkemper and Helly 2013). What is
surprising is that far less attention has been paid to an aspect of the security sector
reform, which is nevertheless crucial to the effective performance of security
functions and which is linked intrinsically to the broader processes of liberalisation:
the rise of the private security sector. In Bosnia, as in many other states, private
security actors have become powerful players in security provision, and have been
the subject of signicant regulation efforts. However, attempts led by the interna-
tional actors to promote Western-prescribed norms governing the relationship
between PSCs and public actors have been, at best, only moderately successful.
In Bosnia, PSCs grew in the mid-1990s, in a situation in which the post-war
transition to a market economy legitimised the involvement of private actors in
security provision, and in which lack of trust in public authorities generated demand
for alternative security providers (Azinovićet al. 2011: 54). On the supplyside of
the equation, other changes in the security sector facilitated the rise of private
security. This included internationally sponsored reform processes that resulted in the
dismissal of large numbers of policemen and soldiers, who had participated in the
Yugoslav conict and whose only skills and experience were in the area of (in)
security provision (OCCRP 2010). In that context, many of those who had played
key roles in Yugoslav security services including individuals who had been
involved in military and paramilitary activities during the conicts of the 1990s
set up (or were hired by) PSCs. Factors such as lack of a regulatory system to govern
PSCs, uid security environment and presence of large numbers of weapons in
Bosnia, as well as the military/para-military background of several PSC owners,
combined to create an environment in which many PSCs acquired assets that had
been under the control of public authorities and engaged in dubious practices and
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
often in criminal activities, especially racketeering (Ahić2009; Azinovićet al.
While, initially, the international administrators did not place much emphasis on
the practices of PSCs, by the early 2000s the growing power and abusive behaviour
of many security professionals operating under the umbrella of PSCs was generating
growing concerns both within the international administration and among
Bosnian civil rights activists and pro-reform politicians that the unfettered security
privatisation could constitute a security challenge.
Fearing that the activities of
private security professionals could undermine the fragile stability of Bosnia,
international actors led by the Ofce of the High Representative (OHR) pressured
Bosnian politicians to adopt legislation aimed at regulating PSC activities.
As a
result of that pressure, new laws on PSC activities were passed in the Federation and
in the Republika Srpska (RS) in 2002 and in the Brčko District in 2004; the
Federation law was amended in 2008 in an effort to eliminate some weaknesses. The
new laws represent a signicant step forward in the process of regulating the process
of security privatisation by establishing clear boundaries to the kinds of activities that
PSCs can and cannot perform. For instance, PSCs are allowed to offer technical and
physical protection services to individuals and companies, but they do not have the
right to arrest individuals (Kržalić2009).
The decentralised nature of the political system in Bosnia is reected in the system
of regulation of PSCs: PSCs are licensed by the interior ministries of the different
Bosnian entities, and they are required to register separately in each of the regions in
which they wish to operate: in each Federation canton, in the Brčko District, and in
the ve policing and court districts in the RS. These laws also establish certain
conditions that persons who wish to establish PSCs need to fullabove all,
they must not have criminal records. The laws also dene the percentage of PSC
employees that are allowed to carry weapons (20 per cent in the Federation;
50 per cent in the RS). Both the PSC employees and their weapons are registered
with the interior ministries (in the RS at the entity level and in the Federation at the
cantonal level), and PSCs are allowed to use force only for self-defence purposes
(Kržalić2009; Azinovićet al. 2011).
The adoption of these laws was a clear reection of the power of the international
community in Bosnia: given the antagonism between Bosnias main ethnic groups, it
would have been virtually impossible for Bosnians themselves to promote new
legislation on PSCs in the absence of strong pressure by the international actors under
the leadership of the OHR.
It is revealing that even the strongest Bosnian supporters
of regulation of private security mostly NGOs and think tanks such as the Atlantic
Initiative, Transparency International and the Centre for Security Studies regarded
a decisive intervention by the international administrators as the best hope for reform
in this area.
There are also reports that, behind closed doors, members of Bosniak
political parties appealed repeatedly to the international administrators, asking them
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
to take stronger steps to regulate private security providers before they became a
threat to the integrity of the state.
In addition to demonstrating the power of the international administrators in
Bosnia, the private security legislation adopted in the 2000s also reveals the
commitment of these administrators to the neo-liberal project of security commodi-
cation. In spite of their concerns related to the abuses committed by PSCs, the
international actors did not seek to impose a complete ban on PSCs. Importantly,
from their perspective, PSCs were a normal presence in the security landscape of a
modern liberal democracy. In the words of a former OHR ofcial: our aim and
our challenge was not to get rid of PSCs; it was to ensure that they did not act in a
manner that was inconsistent with the principles of Dayton, and that they did not
undermine our mission in Bosnia.
This is certainly not to suggest that international actors have always acted in
conformity with liberal norms and principles in seeking to regulate the private security
industry in Bosnia. In fact, during and immediately following the Yugoslav wars, some
foreign PSCs were responsible for serious human rights violations. As one of the rst
foreign security companies to operate in the region, Military Professional Resources
Inc. (MPRI) trained Croatian forces and prepared them for a military operation, the
Storm, aimed at retaking the so-called RS Krajina fromSerb forces. The operation took
place in 1995 and resulted in serious crimes against the civilian population.
Furthermore, in post-Dayton Bosnia, a PSC that was working for the US government,
DynCorp, was directly involved in human trafcking apparently with the
complicity of some UN ofcials (Bolkovac and Lynn 2011) Despite all these
problems, inthe period immediately following Dayton, the international administrators
allowed PSCs to act with impunity. As noted above, it was only in the early 2000s
that the OHR took advantage of its power to promote legislation in this area. Once
the campaign to promote change in this area did start, however, the international
administrators were able to promote legislative change quite quickly.
Interestingly, however, the practices of PSCs did not undergo a fundamental
transformation even following the adoption of a new legal framework in the early
2000s. Apparently, more than 50 per cent of PSCs continued to engage in abusive
practices, ranging from smuggling drugs and arms to various forms of racketeering.
As Azinovićet al. (2011) and Ahić(2009) have explained, the legislative changes
had only a limited impact in the highly complex political and security environment of
post-Dayton Bosnia. In the 2000s, throughout Bosnia there continued to be a low
level of public trust in the police (Bećirevićand Čehajić2013: 45). This led to a
situation in which both private individuals and business relied extensively on PSCs,
in an effort to compensate for the public authoritiesinability to provide the key
public good conventionally attributed to the state: security.
To understand the discrepancy between the new legislation and the actual practices
of (in)security provision, one needs to examine the strategies and power of the
security professionals that had emerged as owners or directors of PSCs but retained
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
close links to key public ofcials. Those security professionals were able to mobilise
signicant forms of material and non-material capital to enhance their companies
positions in the eld of security. To begin with, PSCs owners and directors were able
to draw on the signicant material capital controlled by their companies, including
weapons inherited from the war, as well as money and technology acquired, in part,
as a result of the PSCslinks to political parties, local bosses, and police and army
ofcers (OCCRP 2010). In addition, these security professionals sought to style their
skills, knowledge expertise and professional background as cultural capital in order
to gain symbolic capital that is, to enhance their companiesprestige in the eld of
security. What is particularly interesting about this process is that owners/directors of
PSCs were seeking to turn what was an apparent disadvantage into an advantage:
they were claiming that the skills/expertise that they had acquired prior to or during
the Yugoslav wars were highly useful specialised skills, which would ensure
that their companies would protect individuals and businesses effectively. Factors
that, in an established liberal democracy, would have been seen as a reason for
disqualication such as skills acquired through links with organisations accused
of massive human rights violations during the wars came to be invoked as an asset
in post-Dayton Bosnia.
All those forms of capital were mobilised systematically by PSC owners and
directors/managers as they deployed their key strategy in post-war Bosnia: to
highlight the weaknesses of the law enforcement agencies, and to cast their
companies as more effective security providers. A useful way of describing the
practices of private security professionals is that of a struggle to enhance the prestige
and power of PSCs vis-à-vis Bosnias public institutions. According to the discourse
articulated by the owners and directors of PSCs, law enforcement agencies were
inefcient,cash-strappedand stuck with old technologies; consequently, there
was a serious gap in Bosnias security provision arrangements that PSCs could ll.
PSC representatives also argued that, as private actors, their companies were in a
better position to respond to the logic of the market and the security needs of
businesses and individuals than the slow-movingand often corruptstate agencies.
In a similar vein, surveillance and intelligence-gathering skills acquired during or
even before the Yugoslav wars were invoked to cast PSCs as effective security
providers. The aim was to obtain lucrative contracts with businesses/political actors
who were interested in surveillance practices targeting their rivals (ibid).
These strategies were very effective, enabling private security providers to acquire
prominent positions in the eld of security in post-Dayton Bosnia. Consequently, the
private security industry grew rapidly in the 1990s and 2000s, a situation in which
both private individuals and business came to rely extensively on PSCs. Thus, while
there is no exact data about this, it is estimated that by the late 2000s there were more
than 160 PSCs operating in Bosnia, employing more than 4,000 persons, and
possessing over 1,000 registered weapons in addition to, it is widely suspected, a
large number of unregistered arms (Azinovićet al. 2011: 55).
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
The ability of owners and directors of Bosnias PSCs to draw on material and
cultural forms of capital and thus to place their companies in powerful positions in
the eld of security was directly linked to the fact that the rules of the gamein
that eld had not completely changed. Thus, while the OHR and European
institutions present in Bosnia played a powerful role in reshaping the legislative
framework in which PSCs operate, the implementation of that legislative framework
was complicated by the fact that it was inserted in a security eld in which prevailing
perceptions and dispositions still reected a habitus inherited from Bosnias violent
past. Central to that was an inclination to accept illiberal practices of security
provision and to value forms of capital that underpinned those practices. Those
included cultural capital derived from a military or police professional background,
and particular knowledge/skills associated with that background (intelligence-
gathering via surveillance without accountability and illegal, maa-style forms of
coercion, such as threats of destruction of property).
The persistence of that habitus
facilitated the perpetuation of illiberal practices, leading to what could be seen as a
situation of complicity between security professionals, Bosnian ofcials and even
members of the public, as those actors adhered to a form of common sensethat was
reproduced by their investment in the gameof security. For instance, there is
evidence that even members of the Bosnian police forces accepted and reproduced
practices such as racketeering, deemed as acceptable in the name of a larger good:
security. They did so primarily by advising businesses and private individuals to hire
PSCs, arguing that they would be more efcient security providers than the police.
Under these circumstances, by the late 2000s, PSCs had become prominent players
in the eld of security. In fact, some of these companies had become so powerful that
they came to be seen by some Bosnian politicians most notably Bosniaks from the
Federation and by the international administrators as a threat to the stability of
Bosnia. Consequently, in the late 2000s, the international actors took some
unprecedented steps to put an end to the activities of security companies that were
regarded as violating the principles of Dayton. A full analysis of these interventions
is beyond the scope of this paper, but let us note a couple of cases that illustrate this
point. In 2007, the EU Police Mission (EUPM) intervened to block the creation of a
public security companyproposed by the RS Minister of the Interior. In the spring
of 2007, the government of the RS had decided to establish a security company that
would be owned by its Ministry of Interior, it would protect public sites as well as
private property, and it would be able to hire personnel that had not been vetted by
the international administrators. In other words, the RS authorities were trying to take
advantage of the process of security privatisation to create a company that would be,
in effect, a quasi-public institution, but would not be subject to the same constraints
as public security agencies. In its letter to the Minister of Interior of the RS, the head
of the EUPM insisted that the creation of such a company would be in violation of
the Dayton principles and the subsequent Instructions to the Parties, which
stipulated that guards protecting sensitive government sites had to be drawn from the
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Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
EUPM-recognised civilian police or Specialist Police Force Units. Noting that the
proposed company would not meet this criterion, the EUPM Head asked the
authorities of the RS to desist from any further activities in this regard.
In a similar vein, in August 2009, RafGregorian, then Principal Deputy High
Representative and international Supervisor of the Brčko District, issued an order
imposing a 5-year ban on Alpha Security, a PSC from the RS, and several other
associated rms operating in Brčko. Through his Supervisory Order, the OHR acted
to de-legitimise the material as well as non-material capital that was possessed by
Alpha Security and similar companies (military intelligence expertise and possession
of related surveillance technologies acquired as a result of their involvement in the
war), portraying them as inconsistent with the principles of governance established
through the Dayton Accord. In his Supervisory Order, Gregorian argued that Alpha
Security had conducted hostile personal and technical surveillance and investigation
that fall into the category of illegal intelligence and counterintelligence activities
targeting the OHR and the Brčko Final Award Ofce (OHR 2009). Not surprisingly,
such forceful intervention was lauded by supporters of the international administra-
tion and by Bosniak politicians, who were deeply worried about the possible
implications of the practices enacted by PSCs like Alpha Security.
However, for
many in Bosnias Serb community, the Supervisory Order constituted further proof
of the OHRs willingness to engage in what they perceived as unacceptable, colonial-
like processes targeting the Serbs (ibid).
Further progress in the process of liberalisation of the eld of security came as a
result of the inux of international corporations in Bosnia in the late 2000s, leading to
demand for private security services that were seen as acceptable by those
corporations above all, services provided by actors who were not involved in
maa-like activities.
Under these circumstances, some of the leading Bosnian PSCs
sought to reorganise their practices and improve their image in an effort to obtain
lucrative contracts with international rms. Consequently, in the late 2000s, Bosnia
experienced a process of partial professionalisation of security, in which the addition
of new actors led to a re-valorisation of forms of material and non-material capital
that had previously been undervalued in Bosnia. This included professional training
for PSCs; modern technologies; and the adoption of security practices consistent with
respect for human rights and the rule of law as opposed to illegal practices, such as
racketeering. In the words of a Bosnian PSC director: it became clear to many of us
that if we wanted to prosper in this business we would need to make our companies
look like the kind of companies with which international banks and retailers would
want to do business(personal interview by the author, 27 June, 2013).
Yet, even these developments did not translate into a complete transformation of
the role of private security in Bosnia. Rather, what we seem to be witnessing is a
persistent struggle over the rules of the game and the valorisation of different types of
capital in Bosniaseld of security. In practices of protection of large Western
corporations and foreign embassies, forms of capital that are valued by PSCs in the
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
West have also come to be valued by Bosnian-based PSCs. In this area, the rules of
the game governing security provision have moved a lot closer to the rules of security
provision that are expected to prevail in established liberal democracies and the
security professionals that possess oldforms of capital have been weakened
signicantly. In contrast, there are still areas of security provision particularly
concerning the protection of Bosnian citizens and their property, but also some local
politicians in which the old forms of capital and rules of the game remain very
inuential. In particular, in a situation in which police forces continue to be cash-
strapped and thus unable to perform all the security functions expected of them, in
which the court system remains inefcient and corrupt, there continues to be strong
demand for PSCs that are perceived as able to get things doneeven if that involves
the threat or use of illegal coercion.
The pitfalls of security privatisation in Serbia
Problematic transformations of the security sector, in which forms of capital inherited
from the old regime obstructed and complicated the adoption of liberal norms in the
area of security privatisation, were not limited to Bosnia. Indeed, most of the polities
that emerged from the collapse of Yugoslavia experienced awed processes of security
privatisation due to the inuence exercised by actors and forms of capital associated
with the wars that occurred in the 1990s and/or with the pre-war communist regime
(OCCRP 2010).A full examination of all those polities would be impossible within the
space of this paper; however, an examination of another case, Serbia, will shed light on
some of the broader dynamics affecting the redenition of public/private interactions in
the eld of security in the Western Balkans.
The case of Serbia is particularly interesting because, while it shared Bosnias
communist past and was obviously also involved in the conicts in the 1990s, Serbia
did not experience the establishment of international administration after the wars.
Following the fall of the Miloševićregime in 2000, Serbia joined other former
Yugoslav states in the efforts to carry out liberal-democratic reforms and, in so doing,
to pave the way for its returnto Europe. But in Serbia, the processes of
liberalisation and democratisation including in the security sector took place
without the type of direct international involvement that was characteristic of reform
processes in polities like Bosnia and Kosovo. Under these circumstances, an analysis
of this case enables us to grasp the ways in which forms of capital and actors linked to
the past affected the liberalisation of the security sector in the absence of direct
international intervention.
In Serbia, the process of security privatisation started in the 1990s and gained
signicant momentum following the removal of Slobodan Miloševićfrom power.
As in many other polities, security came to be partly redened as a commodity that
could be sold and bought in the market. Serbian experts estimate that, by 2010, there
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Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
were some 3,000 PSCs, employing between 30,000 and 50,000 people and owning
about 47,000 rearms in their country (Petrović2010). However, it is difcult to
obtain accurate data about the PSCs that operate in Serbia because in sharp
contrast to most European countries, including other former Yugoslav republics
up until 2014, there was no effective, comprehensive legal framework governing
private security.
The fact that, until very recently, there were no licensing
requirements, no background checks and that even criminal gangs looking for a
way to arm their members were able to establish PSCs meant that the private security
sector in Serbia experienced tremendous growth after 2000, and operated based on
the law of the jungle.
As in the case of Bosnia, transformations in the eld of security were affected by
developments in the eld of economy especially the awed transition to a market
economy, which enabled members of the communist nomenclature to gain control
over state assets illegally and to redene themselves as entrepreneurs. In the eld of
security, Serbia witnessed the rise of powerful networks, which included political
gures, PSCs and organised criminal groups and which engaged in practices ranging
from money laundering to targeted assassinations (Dojčinović2010). Key gures
within these networks were individuals who had close ties to Serbias past as
members of the communist nomenclature who were able to take advantage of corrupt
privatisation processes to gain control over state assets and often set up PSCs, while
at the same time preserving close links to (and preferential treatment from) powerful
individuals within the state (Dojčinović2010; Petrović2010). It is also worth noting
that, in the 1990s, PSCs played important roles in the protection of opposition parties.
Once in power, these praetorian guards beneted from a reserved domain that was
exempted from systematic reforms and democratic oversight.
Under these circum-
stances, it is hardly surprising that inuential players in Serbiaseld of security were
against the adoption of liberal-democratic norms, which are associated with demands
for transparency and accountability that would have been detrimental to their
business. Thus, in the 1990s, there were:
strong lobbies in the private security industry and political parties, which hamper
the adoption of the law [on PSCs] as the status quo makes it possible for them to
supply privileged companies with favourable business deals, and the companies,
in turn, show immense gratitude by the end of each month. (Davidovićcited in
Petrović2010: 18)
Empirical evidence about the evolution of the security sector reveals that, just as in
the case of Bosnia, actors with links to Serbias problematic past were able to
mobilise material and cultural forms of capital to secure recognition and prestige as
effective security providers. Thus, owners and managers of PSCs with links to
political parties were able to transfer into the eld of security assets obtained in the
eld of economy, particularly as a result of corrupt privatisation processes
(Dojčinović2010; Petrović2010). Furthermore, those private security professionals
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
were able to style as cultural capital their specialised expertise, knowledge and skills
in the use of techniques of surveillance and intimidation. Former security service
ofcers who came to occupy managerial positions in PSCs had learned those skills
during the communist era or during the Yugoslav wars, and deployed them against
the real or perceived rivals/enemies of their clients in post-MiloševićSerbia. As a
Belgrade-based security expert put it, some of these private agencies know all there
is to know about how to conduct surveillance operations, just as they know how to
intimidate their clientsopponents. They learned these skills during the Yugoslav
wars, or in some cases even before the war.
In addition, the fact that the directors
and managers of many PSCs shared the same educational and professional back-
ground as individuals that continued to occupy key positions within the state security
apparatus also constituted an important source of capital. In many instances, those
connections meant that the owners and managers of PSCs were able to gain access to
sensitive information that could be used to gain an unfair advantage over rival
companies, and/or to engage in illegal practices of surveillance and extortion
(Petrović2010: 1819).
On the basis of these forms of capital, leading PSCs in Serbia were able to play
powerful roles not only in the provision of physical and technical security to
individuals and their property, but also, as in the case of Bosnia, in intelligence
services. Companies involved in intelligence services often call themselves detective
agencies, but their activities go beyond the usual activities of detecting marital
indelity and searching for missing persons to include counter-espionage and secret
recordings targeting their clientsrivals, electronic surveillance, investigation of court
data, etc. (Petrović2010: 20).
This development is particularly problematic in a
country with a heavy legacy of anti-democratic practices and human rights violations.
Particularly given the absence of a legislative framework able to curb the activities of
PSCs, there has been deep concern about the involvement of PSCs in abusive practices,
in which individuals and companies are subject to extensive, illegal surveillance, in
clear violation of basic liberal principles of respect for the rule of law and human rights.
In order to understand these problems associated with security privatisation, one
needs to pay attention not only to the forms of capital possessed by PSCs, but also to
the way in which the security eld was structured by a particular kind of habitus
following the end of the Yugoslav wars. Similar to Bosnia, central to the Serbian
habitus was a disposition to accept illiberal security practices and to value forms of
capital linked to those practices. Thus, the fact that security providers had been
involved in (anti-democratic) military or police organisations during and/or before
the Yugoslav wars, and, consequently, possessed particular skills associated with that
background (intelligence-gathering as well as coercive techniques, including surveil-
lance without accountability and illegal forms of coercion) became a source of
cultural capital.
In a context marked by the absence of an effective, comprehensive regulatory
framework governing private security, by high levels of crime and weak often
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
corrupt law enforcement agencies (Petrović2010; Jovanović2013), both security
providers and their clients were inclined to participate in the provision of protection
in a rapid and effective way even if that ability depended on the use of illegal
means. As Dojčinovićput it, private security companies and crime have overlapped
since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990sand, in his words, this violent
tradition continues today. With no regulations, and no political push to change the
laws and reign in security companies, todays owners operate much like their
As in the case of Bosnia, the main security strategy employed by PSC owners and
directors was to mobilise their material and cultural capital inherited from the past,
seeking to cast themselves as the type of actors that could be far more efcient than
law enforcement agencies. The prevailing discourse articulated by these security
professionals cast PSCs as effectiveand reliable, in contrast to public security
agencies. PSCs were thus portrayed as actors that could ll an important gap in
providing security to Serbias citizens and businesses.
This tacit acceptance of the role and power of PSCs has been so prevalent that even
state agencies have relied on these companies to do their dirty laundry. Thus, an
investigation conducted in 2008 revealed that ofcers of Serbias security agencies
have been hiring PSCs to carry out activities that involve the violation of privacy of
many Serbs (Petrović2010: 22). Empirical evidence suggests that state security
agencies use PSCs in actions that involve surveillance and reconnaissance in an effort
to escape legal constraints given that state agencies would need a court order to
act, whereas PSCs are willing to operate in secret, without seeking to obtain such an
Over the years, pro-reform Serbian actors especially civil society actors
grouped in and around liberal NGOs and think tanks joined forces with
international actors such as the American Chamber of Commerce in systematically
criticising persisting practices of corruption and the links between some Serb PSCs
and organised crime.
They also argued in favour of adopting legislation based on
liberal norms of transparency and accountability. These actors were joined by some
global PSCs that began to operate in Serbia following the fall of the Milošević
regime, when the start of the liberalisation process translated into the arrival of
international banks and retailers that needed Western-style security arrangements.
The arrival of global companies also prompted some Serbian actors, who were keen
to gain lucrative contracts with those players, to build new companies (or transform
old ones) around Western standards of professionalism.
These Western-oriented
Serbian PSCs, together with global PSCs like G4S and Securitas, established the
Association for Private Security as a professional association seeking better regula-
tion in this eld. Together with Serbian civil rights activists, and with the support of
the American Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of European Security
Services, they sought to persuade the Serb government and parliament to adopt the
kind of legislation that would impose norms of private security similar to the
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
standards expected (though not always fully respected) in established liberal
democracies (ibid).
Yet, for a very long time, these efforts did not bear any fruit. Thus, pro-reform
domestic actors were far weaker than the powerful networks that opposed the
regulation of private security, and were thus unable to bring about any signicant
change. Also unlike Bosnia, in the early and mid-2000s, international actors did not
have a sufciently powerful presence in Belgrade. Serbia, of course, was not
governed by international administrators, and, at least in the rst few years of post-
communist transition, the EU the most active actor involved in promoting
liberalisation elsewhere in Eastern Europe was not systematically involved in the
efforts to reform this former Yugoslav state.
Consequently, Serbia was the only
country from this region that, at the end of the 2000s, still did not have a legislative
framework governing the private security industry.
More recently, however, the situation began to change. Particularly important was
Belgrades decision to submit its application for joining the EU (in 2009), and the
subsequent start of accession negotiations. Even then, however, the EUs attention was
focused on the apprehension of Serb war criminals, and the conclusion of an agreement
between Belgrade and Pristina. It was only once those two conditions were fullled
that the EU gave Serbia the green light for accession negotiations, which began in
January 2014. As the government in Belgrade identied accession to the EU as one of
its key foreign policy aims, the need to reform the security sector, to bring it into
conformity with the norms prescribed by the EU acquired new urgency. In this context,
the domestic and international advocates of regulation in the private security industry
were able to articulate a potent argument: only by reforming its security sector,
including putting an end to the abuses committed by PSCs, would Serbia become the
kind of polity that qualies for inclusion in the EU club (Jovanović2013). In addition,
in the past year, a series of violent incidents involving PSCs added further pressure on
the government to regulate the private security sector.
In response to these developments, in February 2014, after more than a decade of
transition, the Law on Private Security together with the Law on Detective Activities
were adopted in Belgrade (CoESS 2014). The adoption of these new laws represents
a signicant step forward in the process of implementing liberal-democratic norms of
transparency, accountability and respect for human rights in the eld of security.
Thus, by introducing a system of licensing and by dening the boundaries of
acceptable behaviour by PSCs (including limits on their ability to exercise violence),
the new laws hold the potential to eliminate the abuses that have marked the process
of security privatisation until now. However, it is still too early to predict the nal
outcome of this transformation. To begin with, the problem is that, in order for the
new laws to have full effect, it will be necessary to adopt a complex set of by-laws,
and it is not yet clear if or when those by-laws will be adopted. In addition, even if all
the necessary legal measures are adopted, much will depend on the ways in which
their provisions will be implemented. This will require a de-valorisation of the capital
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
associated with the old regime and a change at the level of the habitus of participants
in the eld of security. This, however, can only happen through their systematic
socialisation into new conceptual and practical dispositions. However, at present, it is
not yet clear how and when such socialisation might occur.
This paper has drawn on Bourdieus concepts to provide new insight into the
dynamics and consequences of processes of adaptation and resistance to liberal
norms in one particular area: security privatisation in Bosnia and Serbia. A Bourdieu-
inspired study of the processes of security privatisation in these countries sheds new
light on the ways in which local actors can complicate or oppose the adoption of
liberal norms, even when those norms are promoted by powerful international actors.
In particular, Bourdieus insights into the relationship between agents and the social
eld in which they operate enable us to capture the complex dynamics and
problematic consequences of processes through which security became a
commodity in the two former Yugoslav republics. It is only by paying attention to
the ways in which networks of actors that transcend the public/private divide have
been able to mobilise particular material and non-material forms of capital and to
secure privileged positions in the eld of security that we can understand the uneasy
coexistence of liberal reforms and illiberal practices of security provision.
In Bosnia as well as in Serbia, changes in the eld of security have been affected
profoundly by broader transformations associated with the Yugoslav conicts of the
1990s and the (re)constitution of those polities in the aftermath of war. In spite of the
different trajectories of Bosnia and Serbia with the former being placed under the
control of international administrators while the latter emerged from the war as an
independent if weakened state in both countries the privatisation of security was
linked to awed processes of transition to a market economy, which translated into
problematic transfers of state assets into the hands of private actors with political
connections. Consequently, both states witnessed the emergence of powerful net-
works of security professionals that have taken advantage of the liberalisation
processes to set up PSCs, while often retaining important links to key public ofcials
and assets. In a context marked by a blurred boundary between the public and the
private spheres, and the maintenance of conceptual and practical dispositions
inherited from their politiesviolent past, these security professionals have been able
to mobilise signicant forms of material and non-material capital to enhance the
prestige and power of their PSCs. As a corollary to that, they have been able to
reproduce illiberal practices of security provision, thereby delaying and complicating
the processes of liberalisation and democratisation in their polities.
In both Bosnia and Serbia, international actors have played important though
not unambiguously positive roles in pushing forward the process of liberalisation.
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
While in Bosnia this has been done through the direct intervention by international
administration, in Serbia domestic reformers have played more powerful roles and
the internationalsinuence has largely taken the form of a campaign of persuasion
of ofcials in Belgrade, as well as incentives for reform linked to the countrys
possible accession to the EU. In short, the internationalsinvolvement has supported,
rather than replaced, the efforts by pro-reform domestic actors. In both countries,
however, the power exercised by networks of private security providers with links to
the public sector has seriously complicated this reform process. At present, much
remains to be done both in Bosnia and in Serbia, and it is still not clear how the eld
of security will evolve and to what extent it will become free of illiberal practices in
the coming years. It is not too early to conclude, however, that actors and factors
inherited from a past marked by violent conict have been able to play powerful roles
in the post-conict transitions in the Western Balkans in ways that had not been
anticipated by most policymakers and analysts.
1 Due to space constraints, I discuss only the strategies of owners and directors or managers or PSCs as
the most important players (vis-à-vis other categories of employees) in positioning PSCs in the
changing eld of security.
2 The 1995 Dayton Peace Accord set up two separate entities: a Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and
Hercegovina, and the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska (RS), each with its own president,
government, parliament, police and other bodies. Overarching these entities, there is a central Bosnian
government and rotating presidency. In addition, there exists the district of Brčko, which is a
self-governing administrative unit, established as a neutral area placed under joint Serb, Croat and
Bosniak authority. Above these structures, Dayton established the Ofce of the High Representative
(OHR), with the power to compel the entity governments to comply with the terms of the peace
agreement and the state constitution.
3 There is no hard data on this, but Sarajevo analyst 1, Sarajevo MoS 1 and 2, and former OHR ofcials
3 and 4 that I interviewed suggested that more than 60 per cent of the PSCs engaged in such
4 Within Bosnia, the political actors that were particularly concerned about the potential impact of
security privatisation were members of the Bosniak community (interviews with Sarajevo analysts
2 and 3, 2527 June, 2013).
5 Interviews with former OHR ofcial 1 (24 June, 2013), and with Sarajevo analysts 2 and 3 (2527
June, 2013).
6 Interviews with Sarajevo analyst 1 (24 June, 2013) and OHR ofcial (16 March, 2014).
7Ibid. See also Perdan (2008).
8 Interviews with EU Delegation ofcials 1 and 2, and former OHR ofcials 3 and 4 (2427 June,
9 Interview (26 June, 2013). This view was reiterated by former EU Delegation ofcials 1 and 3 (2427
June, 2013).
10 I am grateful to the JIRD reviewers for drawing my attention to this case. See also Singer (2007).
11 Interviews with former OHR ofcial 1 and NATO Delegation ofcials 1 and 2 (2628 June, 2013).
12 Interviews with two Bosnian security experts and a member of the NATO Delegation to Bosnia
(27 June, 2013, and 11 March, 2014).
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
13 Interviews with Atlantic Initiative experts 1 and 2, and the director of a Bosnian PSC, Sarajevo (1114
March, 2014).
14 This was conrmed by all my interviewees in Bosnia.
15 Interviews with former EU Delegation ofcials 1, 2 and 3, and with Sarajevo analysts 2 and 3
(2427 June, 2013).
16 Interviews with Sarajevo analysts 1, 2 and 3 (2427 June, 2013) and former EU Delegation ofcial
(6 March, 2014).
17 Interviews with former EU Delegation ofcials 1 and 2 (2427 June, 2013).
18 Interviews with senior manager of the Bosnian branch of Securitas (28 June, 2013) and with Atlantic
Initiative experts 1 and 2, Sarajevo (11 March, 2014).
19 Ibid. Recent reports also indicate that only about 40 per cent of Bosnias citizens trust the police to
provide security to its citizens (BTI 2014).
20 Up until 1993, all the entities that were part of Yugoslavia had the Law on Social Self-Defence. This
law, however, was repealed on the grounds that it was inadequate in a situation in which several
different types of property had come to co-exist within Yugoslavia (Petrović2010).
21 Interviews with Belgrade analysts 1 and 2 (1718 June, 2013).
22 I am grateful to one of the JIRD reviewers for drawing my attention to this issue.
23 Interview (17 June, 2013).
24 This was reiterated in the authors interviews with journalists 1 and 2 (20 June, 2013).
25 This was conrmed by all my interviewees in Serbia and Bosnia.
26 Interviews with Belgrade analysts 1 and 2 (17 June, 2013).
27 Interviews with a senior manager of the Serbian branch of G4S (19 June, 2013), and journalists 1 and
2 (20 June, 2013).
28 Interviews by author (1720 June, 2013).
29 According to security experts, investigative journalists and NGO members interviewed by the author,
the EU was so focused on promoting an accord between Serbia and Kosovo regarded as vital for
promoting European security that they were willing to close their eyes to many problems of
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Journal of International Relations and Development
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Two ofcials from the Ministry of Interior of Serbia (ofcials 1 and 2), interview by author, Belgrade.
17 June, 2013.
Director of a Belgrade-based Serbian PSC, interview by author, 18 June, 2013.
Senior manager of the Serbian branch of G4S, interview by author, 19 June, 2013.
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June, 2013.
Two investigative journalists (journalists 1 and 2), interview by author, Centre for Investigative Journalism
in Serbia, Belgrade, 20 June, 2013.
Five former members of the OHR (former OHR ofcials 15), interview by author, Sarajevo, 2426 June,
Three Bosnian security analysts afliated with the Centre for Security Studies (Sarajevo analysts 13),
interview by author, Sarajevo, 2427 June, 2013.
Three former members of the EU Delegation to Sarajevo (former EU Delegation ofcials 13), interview
by author, 2427 June, 2013.
Alexandra Gheciu
Commodifying security in the Balkans
Two members of the NATO Delegation to Sarajevo (NATO Delegation ofcials 1 and 2), interview by
author, 2728 June, 2013.
Senior manager of the Bosnian branch of Securitas, interview by author, Sarajevo, 28 June, 2013.
Former member of the EU Delegation to Bosnia, interview by author, Brussels, 6 March, 2014.
Two Bosnian security analysts afliated with the Atlantic Initiative, Sarajevo (Atlantic Initiative experts 1
and 2), interview by author, 11 March, 2014.
Two ofcials from the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo MoS 1 and 2), interview
by author, 12 March, 2014.
Director of a Bosnian PSC, interview by author, Sarajevo, 14 March, 2014.
Four members of the EU Delegation to Bosnia (EU Delegation ofcials 14), interview by author,
Sarajevo, 1415 March, 2014.
Member of the OHR, interview by author, 16 March, 2014.
Two Sarajevo-based investigative journalists (Sarajevo journalists 1 and 2), interview by author, 17 March,
About the author
Alexandra Gheciu is Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public and
International Affairs, and Associate Director of the Centre for International Policy
Studies. In addition to articles in academic journals, Ghecius recent publications
include two monographs NATO in the New Europe: The Politics of International
Socialization after the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 2005) and Securing
Civilization? (Oxford University Press, 2008) and a volume co-edited with
Jacqueline Best, The Return of the Public in Global Governance (Cambridge
University Press, 2014). She is currently working on several articles and a new
monograph with the working title Transforming the Logic of Security Provision in
Europe. Prior to joining the University of Ottawa, she was a research fellow at the
University of Oxford, and a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute,
Florence. She has also served as Associate Editor for the Security Studies journal.
Journal of International Relations and Development
Volume 18, Number 3, 2015
Full-text available
The study on the topic Private Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina arose from constant observing of the trend of private security companies, and their influence on security in general, and is made according to the requirements of the scientific and empirical approach. This study is characterized by the removal of the flaws identified in previous studies, as well as by the widening of some new research areas. The parts concerning legal regulations are, therefore, organized more systematically, the scope and state of private security companies is done in more detail, while the comparative approaches with this sector and the member states of the European Union are performed in basic but important areas.
This book analyses the normative framework underlying the statebuilding activities of the international administrations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and East Timor. It argues that a particular understanding of sovereignty has shaped the efforts of these international administrations, and examines the influence of this conception on three aspects of statebuilding: institution-building, the behaviour of international institutions towards local actors, and the timing and nature of the transition from international to local authority — the exit strategies of international administrations. The book argues that international administrations hold a conception of ‘sovereignty as responsibility’: states have to fulfil a set of responsibilities towards their population, in particular administrative effectiveness, the protection of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and maintaining a free market economy. These responsibilities constitute a ‘standard of civilisation’, which legitimises sovereign authority, and failure to fulfil this standard can lead to international intervention and the denial of sovereign rights. The book shows how this ‘standard of civilisation’ is used by international administrations both to justify the denial of self-governance, and to serve as a blueprint for their institution-building activities. The restructuring of political and administrative practices to help post-conflict territories to meet this standard creates a sovereignty paradox: international administrations compromise one element of sovereignty — the right to self-government — in order to implement domestic reforms to legitimize the authority of local political institutions, and thus strengthen their sovereignty. In the light of the governance and development record of the three international administrations, the book assesses the promises and the pathologies of statebuilding, and develops recommendations to improve their performance.
The main aim of this book is to argue that the use of private force by states has been restricted by a norm against mercenary use. It traces the evolution of this norm, from mercenaries in medieval Europe through to private security companies in modern day Iraq, telling a story about how the mercenaries of yesterday have evolved into those of today in the process. The norm against mercenaries has two components. First, mercenaries are considered to be immoral because they use force outside legitimate, authoritative control. Second, mercenaries are considered to be morally problematic because they fight wars for selfish, financial reasons as opposed to fighting for some kind of larger conception of the common good. The book examines four puzzles about mercenary use, and argues that they can only be explained by understanding the norm against mercenaries. First, the book argues that moral disapproval of mercenaries led to the disappearance of independent mercenaries from medieval Europe. Second, the transition from armies composed of mercenaries to citizen armies in the 19th century can only be understood with attention to the norm against mercenaries. Third, it is impossible to understand why international law regarding mercenaries, created in the 1970s and 1980s, is so ineffective without understanding the norm. Finally, the disappearance of companies like Executive Outcomes and Sandline and the development of today's private security industry cannot be understood without the norm.
In 1984, I moved to Paris to begin my undergraduate education at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). Sciences Po offered a series of seminars ostensibly to help foreigners (including me at that time) pass the entrance exam. What I remember from these is a chain smoking ‘M. Thomas’ doing his utmost to convey the message that Sciences Po was an elite institution, that entering it was like entering a ‘gulag’ and that only the best would ‘survive’ (his expressions). I also recall finding M. Thomas and his universe rather bizarre. A few years later, this was no longer true. I looked at French education in a new way just as Iver Neumann (in this book) looked at women differently after working with fur-coats. But more significantly, I had become intensely aware of the (often inarticulate) hierarchies and power relations of practices.
This book examines the role of culture in contemporary security policies, providing a critical overview of the ways in which culture has been theorized in security studies. Developing a theoretical framework that stresses the relationship between culture, power, security and strategy, the volume argues that cultural practices have been central to transformations in European and US security policy in the wake of the Cold War - including the evolution of NATO and the expansion of the EU. Michael C. Williams maintains that cultural practices continue to play powerful roles in international politics today, where they are essential to grasping the ascendance of neoconservatism in US foreign policy. Investigating the rise in popularity of culture and constructivism in security studies in relation to the structure and exercise of power in post-Cold War security relations, the book contends that this poses significant challenges for considering the connection between analytic and political practices, and the relationship between scholarship and power in the construction of security relations. Culture and Security will be of interest to students and researchers in the fields of international relations, security studies and European politics.
Since the mid-1990s, the United Nations and other multilateral organizations have been entrusted with exceptional authority for the administration of war-torn and strife-ridden territories. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eastern Slavonia, Kosovo, and East Timor, these organizations have assumed responsibility for governance to a degree unprecedented in recent history. These initiatives represent some of the boldest experiments in the management and settlement of intra-state conflict ever attempted by third parties. This book is a study of recent experiences in the international administration of war-torn territories. Examines the nature of these operations-their mandates, structures, and powers-and distinguishes them from kindred historical and contemporary experiences of peacekeeping, trusteeship, and military occupation. Analyses and assesses the effectiveness of international administrations and discusses, in thematic fashion, the key operational and political challenges that arise in the context of these experiences. Also reflects on the policy implications of these experiences, recommending reforms or new approaches to the challenge posed by localized anarchy in a global context. Argues that despite many of the problems arising from both the design and implementation of international administrations-some of them very serious-international administrations have generally made a positive contribution to the mitigation of conflict in the territories where they have been established.