In This Review

Nationalism and the Rule of Law: Lessons from the Balkans and Beyond
Nationalism and the Rule of Law: Lessons from the Balkans and Beyond
By Iavor Rangelov
Cambridge University Press, 2013, 224 pp

Books on nationalism abound; so do books on the rule of law. But few, if any, explore the relationship between the two subjects. This one does so by looking at how nationalist excesses undo the rule of law -- and how the rule of law, when properly defended, can tame nationalism. Rangelov takes “ethnic citizenship,” the state’s privileging of one ethnic group over others, as his point of departure. He examines how a government’s attempts to engineer ethnic citizenship can undermine the rule of law, using the case of Slovenia in the early 1990s as evidence. Then, he shows how confronting wartime crimes and struggling with transitional justice after a conflict can help a country come to terms with the dark side of nationalism; Croatia after 1999 serves as an example. Finally, Rangelov explores the evolution of international criminal justice, whose focus has shifted from “crimes against peace” to “crimes against humanity.” Here, he zeroes in on the case of Serbia during and after the Balkan wars of the 1990s, where the attempt to enforce this new international norm has produced both justice and strident local opposition.