The extremism of the worked up "pro-Bosnian" forces is above all revealed in the readiness of its ideologues to reject the possibility that national pluralism in this country has made any significant political achievements. One expression of such readiness is their pronounced inclination to reject the term "constituent nations". According to them this term is a huge mistake based on the lack of knowledge of the constitutional law.
The tool employed by Communist ideologues in the past to codify equal rights of three native nations of Bosnia-Hercegovina is today rejected as a dangerous tool in the hands of separatist nationalists. According to this view, all mechanisms, above all legal and constitutional, for preserving equal status of nations are based on the abovementioned "mistake" about the constitutional status of three nations.
Now all those mechanisms are denounced as instruments that are used to block the establishment of a "normal country". Such criticism, based on constitutional theory and global practice ("this does not exist anywhere else in the world") actually implies that multi-ethnic pluralism is not only unnecessary, but also simply cannot be part of a constitution.
Thereby, it follows that a constitution can only be a civic constitution in the sense that it only codifies rights and obligations of individual citizens, or it cannot be a true constitution. It is believed that if a constitution satisfactorily protects all individual rights separate protection of collective rights becomes unnecessary. The primacy of individual rights is not relative - it is absolute: either individual rights or collective rights, either a true constitution or no constitution at all.
Regarding this dispute, it is necessary to open the discussion on the issue of just treatment of whole nations. In political theory we refer to ethno-cultural justice. Even in extremely homogeneous mono-ethnic countries this type of justice is introduced through legal protection of minority rights.
Today, one of the most important political issues globally, including the issues of constitutional theory and practice, is precisely the implementation of minority rights, since the development of democracy, on the one hand, and large influx of immigrants to the developed Western countries, on the other hand, have revealed a burgeoning and irrepressible ethno-national pluralism as the true reality of the modern state.
Thus multiculturalism has emerged as the chief challenge for all those who deal with issues of just state-political organization, since now the pluralism of cultures and nations is accepted as a typical social condition. The realization that in the world that contains thousands of ethnic groups the so-called nationalist principle - that every ethnic group should have its own nation-state - is simply unrealizable has especially contributed to that.
Therefore, most countries are facing the necessity to provide conditions for the life of several nations in one state and with demands that that life be just for each one of the nations. The classic liberal theory of human rights faces a new and daunting challenge in the demands for ethno-cultural justice.
Lately the question whether consistent provision of individual civic rights is sufficient to resolve the issue of social justice in a plural, especially multinational, society has been the object of much heated debate. It is not surprising that the topic of federalism has drawn lot of interest by researchers, prompted especially by the work on the European constitution.
It turned out that it is not easy to reconcile demands of national movements, which want to preserve their nations as separate societies, and the necessity of life in one state.
That difficulty is perhaps nowhere as pronounced as here. However, the situation is additionally complicated by the fact that based on the public opinion that difficulty is not sufficiently clearly visible. In the main conflict between "nationalists" and "anti-nationalists" this knot is simply cut open. Those who advocate a joint state do not see why three separate societies would need to be preserved here.
They perceive equal representation of all three nations in the government as unjust and as a temporary concession to still excessively powerful nationalists. The specified legal means for others to protect their national interests are denounced as perfidious means to subvert the government. They mock the existence of three language standards, warn that religious leaders are too close to the politics, etc.
On the other hand, nationalists do not understand why they would have to share the country with others at all, with whole nations, unless they can be reduced to a minority. All nationally aware elites unanimously advocate civic constitutions, but only in the state or unit of government in which they are in majority. Similarly nationally aware elites are prepared to grant collective rights to other nations, provided they are in minority. The logic of mono-ethnic-civic outlook is the logic of entity organization. Obviously, based on such logic, the whole country can be viewed as an entity.
The customary belief that centralized state organization and a civic constitution can put an end to national divisions is wrong. Precisely nationalists are the ones who do not want to share states (naturally the one they view as theirs, in which they are in majority). National divisions and separatist tendencies are usually attempts to create a new state in which a group would be in majority.
Unjust status of minorities, usually [local] majorities submerged in larger majorities and given only minority rights, has in more recent history taught us that the existence of a country is not more important than the interests of nations that live in that country.
Consequently, today true meaning of citizenship is above all multicultural citizenship, therefore citizenship in a country that takes care of ethno-cultural justice. On the contrary, in Bosnia-Hercegovina we have the resistant and deeply ingrained belief that the issue of ethno-cultural justice must be ignored by "civic" parties, because to do otherwise would be to become like "nationalists". However, the strongest argument in favor of the survival of the shared country is precisely in securing ethno-cultural justice for all three local nations and providing conditions for their survival and development of their national identity.
In the name of that justice the shared state must not favor any of the nations, which means that is must not be a nation-state of the largest nation. Only equal distribution of power, in federal or some weaker mode of consociational organization, can prevent the break up of the country. Stability of a complex, multinational country precisely depends on the degree of autonomy granted to separate societies that want to preserve their identity.
The degree and type of autonomy depend on political and legal mechanisms that guarantee both civic rights and rights of other nations. In the past the preferred solution for ethno-cultural justice was struggle for an independent nation-state and its recognition through war or revolution, violence and lawlessness.
Consequently, peace and the age of civic constitution could ignore these issues and boil them down to minority policies. In the post-war Bosnia-Hercegovina we can see that the struggle for ethno-cultural justice has not only continued but could also become the main issue of the legal and political life in the country. Constitutional courts of entities and of Bosnia-Hercegovina, as well as the International Justice Court in the Hague are slowly and persistently eroding the foundations of ethno-cultural injustice from the last war.