November 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 2 November 2009
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Bosnia and Herzgovina

Expected Council Action
In November the Council expects a report from the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko of Austria. These semi-annual reports are in accordance with annex 10 of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement and the conclusions of the London Peace Implementation Conference of 1995.

The Council is expected to hold an open debate with a briefing by Inzko and to reauthorise the EU Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) before the expiry of its mandate on 20 November.

The debate is likely to take place after the next meeting of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) which is scheduled for 18-19 November.

Key Recent Developments
The last Council meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina was held on 28 May. In his briefing Inzko said that of the five objectives and two conditions set by the PIC for the transition of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to an office of the EU Special Representative, three objectives had been met (completion of the Brcko Final Award, fiscal sustainability and entrenchment of the rule of law). The remaining two objectives relate to acceptable and sustainable resolution of the apportionment of state property between state and other levels of government, and of defence property. The one outstanding condition to be met is positive assessment of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the PIC Steering Board based on full compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement. (The other was the signing of the EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement.)

The political situation remains very difficult. Republika Srpska continues to challenge the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the authority of the High Representative. On 14 May the Republika Srpska National Assembly adopted conclusions calling for the return of 68 competencies, including control of the judiciary, foreign trade and deployment of police. On 20 June the High Representative annulled these conclusions, which had taken legal effect on 19 June, invoking his so-called Bonn powers (conferred on the OHR at a PIC-meeting in Bonn in 1997, giving the High Representative powers to sack officials and annul laws), stating that they were not in line with the Peace Agreement and would undermine the division of competencies between the state and the two entities. Republika Srpska contested Inzko’s decision.

On 29 and 30 June the political directors of the PIC Steering Board met in Sarajevo and issued a communiqué. It welcomed the establishment of an inventory working group for state property, but noted that there had been no concrete progress towards reaching the PIC’s remaining two objectives and expressed concern and disappointment at the level of progress since its last meeting in March.

On 18 September the Steering Board expressed concern that the operations of Elektroprenos BiH, the state electrical company, had continued to deteriorate as a result of Republika Srpska’s actions. (Its boycott of the company’s management board for over a year has paralysed operations.) On the same day, the High Representative issued a decision ordering the members of the management board to appoint a new general director without delay in order for the network to resume normal functioning.

Following Republika Srpska’s refusal to implement the High Representative’s decision, the PIC Steering Board issued another statement on 25 September concluding that this seriously challenged the Peace Agreement. It warned that such action threatened to delay fulfilment of the conditions necessary for the OHR’s closure. On 26 September, however, Republika Srpska’s Prime Minister Milorad Dodik reiterated that he would not accept any decisions imposed by the High Representative and threatened that Serb representatives would leave all joint state institutions if Inzko continued to impose solutions.

On October 9 the EU and the US launched a joint diplomatic initiative aimed at breaking the political deadlock. In a meeting with key Bosnian political leaders at Butmir military camp, the EUFOR headquarters outside Sarajevo, US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (who was the High Representative in 1995-1997) presented a package of requirements (focusing in particular on institutional reform) and incentives offering Bosnia a path to integration into EU and NATO structures. Another high-level meeting was held on 20 – 21 October.

The package proposal was rejected by both Bosnian-Serb and most Bosnian-Croat and Bosniak leaders, and the meetings ended without any results. Three former high representatives Wolfgang Petritsch, Paddy Ashdown and Christian Schwarz-Schilling also criticised the proposal in a joint statement, particularly for excluding the High Representative from the process. However, Steinberg and Bildt said negotiations would continue at a technical level until the November meeting of the PIC. Meanwhile, Republika Srpska’s prime minister reportedly invited all Bosnian political leaders to a meeting in Banja Luka on 30 October to discuss constitutional reform without interference of international mediators. Most of the leaders reportedly rejected the invitation.

On 15 October, Bosnia and Herzegovina was elected member of the Council for a two-year term beginning in 2010. It had been endorsed by the Eastern European group and ran unopposed.

Human Rights-Related Developments
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s human rights record will come under scrutiny in the Human Rights Council on 17 February 2010 under the Universal Periodic Review process. In the lead-up, human rights defenders are pressing the government on several fronts. These include improving the justice system to increase the rate of prosecutions for war crimes, increasing support for internally displaced people, making eligibility for election to the House of Peoples and the Presidency open to all communities, and ensuring the freedom of association for gay people.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is that the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are yet to fulfil the two unmet PIC objectives and meet the requirements for the PIC Steering Board to be able to give a positive assessment of the situation. A related key concern is that this impacts on the projected closure of the OHR.

A second issue is the failure of all recent initiatives for constitutional reform that could lead to better functioning of Bosnian state structures. The new US/EU initiative seems to have met a similar fate and appears unlikely to produce any results before the PIC November meeting.

The divisive political climate is also an issue. There seems to be increasing concern that the situation is deteriorating and that Republika Srpska might attempt to secede, a possibility which its prime minister has raised with increasing frequency.

Council options include the adoption of a resolution reauthorising EUFOR for another 12 months. (This reauthorisation resolution has not been fundamentally changed since EUFOR was established in 2004.)

However, the timing of the PIC meeting (18-19 November) presents a problem in that the Council cannot wait until after that meeting to reauthorise EUFOR since its mandate expires on 20 November. In light of this situation, another possible option is a short technical rollover of EUFOR’s mandate for say 3 months.

A third option is for the Council to take a more substantive and proactive interest in the issues and seek to adopt a substantive statement or resolution.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem increasingly concerned about recent developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but see the PIC as the main decision-making venue. Key Council members are hesitant about more Council involvement at this stage. They want to wait to see whether the joint EU/US initiative will produce any results and what will be the conclusions of the November PIC meeting.

The main differences among Council members relate to closure of OHR. While all agree that the five objectives and two conditions established by the PIC must be met, Russia has consistently called for the OHR to be shut down as soon as possible whereas other members, most notably the US and many European members, are more supportive of the OHR and do not want to see the office close prematurely. However, there appears to be a growing recognition among key Council members that a PIC decision in November to close the OHR, which seemed a possibility at the May Council debate on Bosnia, is now not likely.

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1869 (25 March 2009) welcomed and agreed to the designation of Valentin Inzko as High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the PIC Steering Board.
  • S/RES/1845 (20 November 2008) reauthorised EUFOR until 20 November 2009.
  • S/RES/1575 (22 November 2004) established the EU Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR).

Selected Council Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6130 (28 May 2008) was the meeting record of the last High Representative’s briefing to the Council.

Selected Letters

  • S/2009/525 (8 October 2009) was the letter from the Secretary-General conveying the latest report on the activities of EUFOR from 1 June to 31 August 2009.
  • S/2009/246 (13 May 2009) was the letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the most recent report of the High Representative on the implementation of the Peace Agreement.


  • S/1995/999 and annexes (21 November 1995) was the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Annexes, signed in Dayton.

Additional Useful Resources

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