Political Science, Department of


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Political Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Patrice McMahon. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2010
Copyright 2010 Ryan M. Lowry


The United Nations created the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to bring to justice those who had committed the worst crimes during the conflicts in the Balkans during the 1990s. From the outset, this institution was envisioned to temporarily process indicted war criminals. The domestic courts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia were seen as being corrupt and ill equipped to handle such cases; rule of law was absent or severely lacking in these countries. As the Tribunal winds down, however, both international and domestic actors have emphasized the need to strengthen their judicial systems that will create a culture of rule of law in the Balkans, and thus be able to not only handle war crimes cases but fairly adjudicate all cases that are brought before the courts. This research looks at how successful the European Union accession process has been in creating domestic judicial reforms that will strengthen local judiciaries. This research shows that EU accession has contributed to a modest amount of successful reforms in Bosnia and Serbia, while it has been less successful in Croatia. The reason, I argue, is the level of domestic support for EU accession. Bosnia and Serbia enjoy higher levels of support for EU accession, giving political leaders confidence that implementing judicial reforms required by the EU will not be costly to them. Croatian leaders, on the other hand, may be weary of implementing reforms that would not be favored by the public.