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Soft Power in the EU candidate country Bosnia and Herzegovina : The State of Women’s Human Rights in a Post- Conflict Country during a Pandemic


  • Alexandra Kosovac

Summary, in English

This thesis aims to provide a deeper understanding of the situation for women in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the pandemic of Covid- 19. Respecting human rights is a conditionality for EU- membership, which Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for in 2015. By drawing on an extensive historical background, conducting an analysis of two documents for directing aid from Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) as well as conducting three interviews with aid distributors and recipient, the aim of this thesis was to find out how successful Bosnia and Herzegovina is in protecting the human rights of women in order to ultimately become a member state of the EU. The results show that domestic violence is widespread and has increased, although statistics are insufficient. Due to the latest war, normalisation of violence and traditional gender roles have taken hold.
The findings show that Sida is exercising soft power, as a third party to the EU, as well as in terms of achieving gender equality. Although victims of domestic violence have to rely on the international community for help and support, it is only providing a short- term solution. With the political elite showing no real intent to make democratic reforms such as the protection of women, they are seemingly more interested in remaining in power by using nationalism and fear mongering. The ethnic groups also seem to have opposite wills in regards to EU- accession. The findings of this thesis show that this is not being taken into consideration when distributing the aid from Sida. One conclusion drawn from this study is that the fragmented political system, with its many operational levels, is dangerous to women.
Another finding is that the Swedish aid might be phased out in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the nearer future, which might well be an implication of what the EU’s commitment to the country in general is. At the same time, the population is losing their hope of any change. I think that the EU and aid contributors should take into account that their criteria for joining the EU must be superseded by putting more pressure on unifying a country where war criminals have been awarded with the power to hold its citizens hostage.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Social Sciences


  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Post-conflict
  • Nationalism
  • EU-accession
  • Soft Power
  • Europeization
  • Human rights
  • Women’s movement
  • Gender Equality
  • Gender Based Violence
  • Domestic Violence


  • Sanimir Resic (Associate Professor)