Papers

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Macro-drivers of radicalisation and violent extremism

Anida Dudić
Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo
Damir Kapidžić
Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo
Muamer Hirkić
University of Sarajevo
Sanela Bašić
University of Sarajevo
Sarina Bakić
University of Sarajevo
Sead Turčalo
Associate Professor, Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo
07 September 2021

The institutional perspectives offer a significant input to the current countering/preventing terrorism (C/PVE) studies and represent an important link in the three stages of the CONNEKT project, especially within the macro level. First, this research relies on the New Institutionalism as a theoretical approach, therefore placing an emphasis on institutional norms, rules and practices. Second, the previously published Country Report on National Approaches to Extremism (D3.2.) serves as a practical overview of what has been done so far and maps the past and current institution-led C/PVE strategies, initiatives and programmes. Third, in order to establish a cartography of contexts of radicalisation and violent extremism, the CONNEKT project links institutions to the meso and micro levels and provides a structural understanding for further research at the community and individual levels.

The principal question that this research attempts to answer is: “Do institutions view radicalisation differently, and are some drivers more relevant than others?” Moreover, by looking into practices of different types of institutions, the research seeks to distinguish the specific roles of institutions in the process of C/PVE, as well as the ways in which they cooperate and communicate individually. This is particularly significant in order to better understand institutional policy choices, and to shape future strategic initiatives of actors directly involved in C/PVE. Additionally, a country-specific contextualisation and analysis of drivers could improve institutional responses and enhance understanding of the processes of radicalisation.

A macro-level context analysis required a cross-regional approach, which is reflected in the use of the same or only slightly adapted questions in two different regions: the Balkans and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Selection and ranking of institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were done in accordance with the relevance of C/PVE in their work, with the categories being formed in line with the type of institution. A total of 16 online and in-person interviews were conducted in Sarajevo in the period from the end of December 2020 to mid-February 2021. Conforming to the CONNEKT project’s regulations, this qualitative research was conducted in line with the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the legislation of BiH – additionally guided by the principle of confidentiality, meaning that the identity of respondents is protected through pseudonymisation of personal data.

Throughout the research, several important points and findings have been identified. The study revealed different institutional understandings of radicalisation, clarified collaboration patterns among institutions from different sectors, presented the complexity of relationships within institutions and ways of cooperation, and confirmed the roles of formal and informal relationships in communication channels. Moreover, it revealed institutional practices and types of support that institutions receive from the state and abroad. In contrast, although there is no full agreement on this, the research has shown divergences in the relevance of different drivers of radicalisation in BiH, where some are deemed as more important than others. Additionally, some of the drivers are solely perceived as underlying drivers, which could become relevant only when paired with another.

The following section will give an overview of the relevant institutions in BiH that deal with issues of radicalisation and violent extremism, especially prevention programmes. The third section will provide a detailed analysis of the macro-level context in BiH, with special focus on the institutional perceptions of C/PVE and examples from institutional practice, recent changes in norms and behaviours of institutions toward C/PVE, as well as the cooperation of institutions from the state and abroad and communication-related actions. The fourth section provides an overview of seven previously identified drivers of violent extremism (territorial inequalities, economic deprivation, political ideas, cultural factors, religion, digital literacy, and transnational dynamics), explores the perception of these drivers within institutional practice and analyses their relevance for the BiH context. The final section provides an overview of the most significant conclusions that emerged from the study, concerning institutional perceptions, practices, norms and behaviours, as well as the contextualisation of seven possible drivers of violent extremism

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