May 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2010
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EUROPE

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Expected Council Action
In May the Council expects a report from the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko of Austria, on implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. The Council is scheduled to hold a debate with a briefing by Inzko. No decisions are expected. EUFOR’s mandate expires on 18 November.

Since the Council’s last discussion of Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 2009, there has been little or no progress on constitutional reform or on outstanding issues related to the five objectives and two conditions set by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board in February 2008 for the transition of the Office of the High Representative (created under the Dayton Peace Agreement) into an office of the EU Special Representative.

The next meeting of the Steering Board is scheduled for 29-30 June.

Key Recent Developments
On 18 November 2009 the Council reauthorised the EU Military Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) for another 12 months. In a briefing on 23 November 2009, Inzko noted that there had been persistent political problems and lack of progress, even regression, on key issues. The objective relating to completion of the Brcko Final Award had been met only partially. (The other two remaining objectives relate to distribution of state and defence property. The one outstanding condition is positive assessment of the situation by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) Steering Board based on full compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement.)

The political directors of the PIC Steering Board (its members are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, the US, the EU presidency, the European Commission and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference represented by Turkey) met in November and February. In the November communiqué, they expressed “serious concern with the insufficient progress” towards the objectives and conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR). They reiterated this concern in the February communiqué. On both occasions they called on the Bosnian parties to conclude agreements relating to apportionment of state and defence property and on Republika Srpska (RS) to bring its electricity law into compliance with conditions necessary for completion of the Brcko Final Award. They stressed the importance of constitutional changes and freedom of expression with regard to the forthcoming October elections.

Meanwhile, Republika Srpska continued to challenge the authority of the High Representative. On 28 December 2009 the RS National Assembly voted to reject Inzko’s 14 December decision to extend the mandates of the international judges and prosecutors of the war crimes department of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Court. In January the RS government submitted a draft referendum law to the assembly for approval; Milorad Dodik, the RS prime minister, had suggested he would use the law to organise a referendum to ask voters whether they support the Dayton Agreement. Despite widespread objections from the international community, including a statement from the High Representative that a referendum would violate the Dayton Agreement, the assembly adopted the law on 10 February.

In March, Dodik reportedly said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was “unsustainable” and only survived because of international intervention, and that time had come for a “peaceful divorce.” On 26 March the ambassadors of the PIC Steering Board condemned “escalation in irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric.”

On 30 March the Serbian parliament adopted a resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995. (The resolution followed a January 2009 European Parliament resolution on Srebrenica condemning the massacre as an act of genocide and similar actions by other parliaments in the region.) Bosnian Serbs criticised the resolution. Others expressed disappointment that it omitted the term “genocide.” It was, nevertheless, the first time that Serbia had condemned this Serb-perpetrated crime.

On 19 April, Republika Srpska requested a new report on the Srebrenica massacre from the Centre for War Crimes Investigation in Banja Luka, reportedly claiming that a 2004 report (which had established that the Republika Srpska had participated in the massacre) had been completed under pressure and therefore needed to be reviewed.

In April, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, on his first official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina after his election in January, apologised for his country’s role in the war in Bosnia.

On 6 and 7 April, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, representing the EU Presidency, and US Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg visited Sarajevo in an effort to push for constitutional reform and strengthen Bosnian leaders’ commitment towards Euro-Atlantic integration. While there was no concrete outcome, Moratinos said they had discussed a document (referred to in Bosnian media as the “Madrid declaration”) that outlined necessary steps for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s entry into the EU and NATO. He also confirmed that an EU/Balkan summit would be held in Sarajevo in June.

On 22 April, NATO foreign ministers agreed to extend to Bosnia and Herzegovina a membership action plan (a programme of support for countries wishing to join the organisation) with certain conditions linked to the unresolved defence property issue.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 22 December 2009 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitution, with its provisions that only members of the country’s three main ethnic groups can hold the highest political offices, violates the right to free and fair elections and freedom from discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights.

On 19 February the Working Group of the Human Rights Council (HRC) that conducted the Universal Periodic Review of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted its report. The group made 125 recommendations, all of which Bosnia and Herzegovina undertook to examine and respond to by the HRC’s fourteenth session in June 2010. A number of the recommendations related to becoming a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to extending standing invitations to UN mandate holders of special procedures, and to ensuring that all assaults on human rights defenders and journalists were investigated and offenders brought to justice.

Key Issues
A key issue is the continued lack of progress in meeting the remaining objectives and requirements of the PIC Steering Board. A related underlying issue is the impact of the difficult political situation.

Another issue is the growing challenges to the authority of the High Representative and the Dayton Agreement.

Underlying issues include the failure of all recent initiatives for constitutional reform that could lead to better functioning of Bosnian state structures and the divisive political climate, which is only expected to deteriorate in the campaigning for the October general elections.

Options
One option is for the Council to simply receive Inzko’s briefing and for members to use the debate to put on record their national positions.

Another more substantive and proactive option is to seek to adopt a substantive statement expressing concern about the challenges to the Dayton Agreement and the failure of recent initiatives and perhaps condemning divisive rhetoric.

Council Dynamics
There seems to be a sense among Council members that further progress is unlikely before the October elections. While there are concerns about divisive rhetoric, few believe that Dodik would carry through with his threat to seek independence for Bosnian Serbs.

Russia appears critical of recent initiatives pushing for constitutional reform, especially if they are seen as new conditions for the OHR closure. It believes the OHR should be closed as soon as the remaining property issues are resolved.

The discussion in May will be the first in which Bosnia and Herzegovina participates as a Council member, but there does not seem to be any expectations that this will change the dynamics. At press time it seemed likely that Nikola Špirić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, would attend, as has been the case for recent Council meetings on this issue.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1895 (18 November 2009) reauthorised EUFOR until 18 November 2010.
  • S/RES/1869 (25 March 2009) welcomed and agreed to the designation of Valentin Inzko as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina by the PIC Steering Board.
  • S/RES/1575 (22 November 2004) established EUFOR.

Selected Council Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6222 (23 November 2009) was the meeting record of the last High Representative’s briefing to the Council.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/113 (23 February 2010) was the letter from the Secretary-General conveying the latest report on the activities of EUFOR from 1 September to 30 November 2009.
  • S/2009/588 (12 November 2009) was the letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the most recent report of the High Representative on the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

Other

  • S/2010/51 (28 January 2010) was a letter from Turkey transmitting “Conclusions on developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina” of the second meeting of the Political Directors of the South-East European Cooperation Process.
  • S/1995/999 and annexes (21 November 1995) was the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Annexes, signed in Dayton.

Useful Additional Sources

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