November 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 October 2010
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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Expected Council Action
In November, 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. A debate, with a briefing by Inzko, is expected and the Council seems likely to reauthorise the EU force in the country for another 12 months.

The Council debate may be used by a number of members to send firm messages about the need, post 3 October general elections, for the parties to move to a more conciliatory phase.

Key Recent Developments
On 12 October, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Bosnia and Herzegovina with the message that it must catch up with its neighbours and integrate with Europe.

On 3 October, Bosnia and Herzegovina held its sixth national election. Campaign rhetoric was largely along ethnic lines and included calls for secession. Bakir Izetbegtović (Bosniak), Željko Komšić (Croat) and Nebojša Radmanović (Serb) were elected members of the three-person national presidency. With the election of reputed moderates Izetbegtović and Komšić, observers expressed hope that some space can be created for further dialogue and a climate of lowered rhetoric. However, while the moderate Bosniak and Croat parties that favour unity appear to have performed well at the national presidency level, power at the state level seems to be further consolidated in the hands of those with an opposing agenda—Croats calling for their own autonomous entity and Serbs seeking secession. Milorad Dodik, the Republika Srpska (RS) prime minister and his nationalist party, in particular, further consolidated power by winning the presidency of the RS. These developments seem to indicate that political obstacles and the risk of deadlock may be in store for the incoming government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. (It seems that the government is unlikely to be formed before February 2011.)

Earlier, speaking on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 23 September Council summit, then Chair of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Haris Silajdzic, accused the Bosnian Serbs of genocide in Srebrenica. He also said that “one part of Bosnia and Herzegovina” was destabilising the Dayton Agreement with “open calls for secession.” He went on to claim that the Serb action to turn territories where they committed “atrocities, ethnic cleansing and genocide” into a “fiefdom” was a “threat” to the peace and security of the international community.

The last Council meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina was held on 24 May. In his briefing, Inzko noted that there was progress in the following areas:

  • addressing the membership action plan to join NATO;
  • EU visa liberalisation; and
  • positive attempts at regional reconciliation.

However, he noted that continued divisions within Bosnia and Herzegovina have resulted in its inability to address key governance and budgetary issues. There continues to be concern over growing anti-Dayton rhetoric and challenges to the authority of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and Peace Implementation Council (PIC) by the RS. Inzko said that no progress has been made on the 5+2 agenda. (The five objectives are: the resolution of state property; resolution of defence property; completion of the Brcko final award; fiscal sustainability of the state; and entrenchment of the rule of law. The two conditions are to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU and to obtain a positive assessment of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the PIC.) Inzko also noted that constitutional reform efforts have stalled, with high-level political discussions initiated by the EU and US—the so-called “Butmir process”—ending without a breakthrough in November 2009.

The political directors of the PIC met in Sarajevo on 29 and 30 June. (The PIC’s steering board 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.) In a communiqué, PIC welcomed the recent initiatives to promote reconciliation and improve regional cooperation and efforts at addressing the “painful issues of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s past”. They continued to encourage progress to be made on resolving all outstanding 5+2 agenda items, such as immovable defence properties, as a step toward NATO membership and closing the OHR. As for the October general elections, the PIC urged all political parties to campaign in a “forward-looking, constructive, and responsible manner.”

On 25 July, Dodik claimed that the opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence shows that secession is a possibility for the republic. He said that this issue would be further discussed after the 3 October elections.

On 29 September, appearing on the election campaign trail together with Serbia’s President Boris Tadic, Dodik, he remained defiant with his secessionist rhetoric. He said that his political platform remained clear: “Republika Srpska forever, Bosnia only for as long as it has to exist.”

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 11 June, the Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Of the 125 recommendations received, Bosnia and Herzegovina accepted 26, partially accepted 58 and rejected 46. Among those accepted were recommendations to more effectively suppress racial discrimination and capacity building of human rights institutions.

On 4 October, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe observer mission from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights noted that while the 3 October general elections were conducted “generally” in-line with international standards, the ethnic limitations to the highest political office continues to violate the European Convention of Human Rights.

Key Issues
A key issue is whether the Council should respond to the continued uncertainty in the political climate after the general elections. The pressing concern is how Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to form a more functional government that can start taking important steps towards European integration.

A related issue is what could be sent to try to dampen the strong secessionist rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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

A main option is to adopt a resolution to renew the mandate of the EU Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR). (Substantive changes to the mandate are not likely.)

A further option is to include in the resolution language that expresses strong concern over divisive rhetoric calling for secession and the continuing challenges to the Dayton Agreement.

A third option is to highlight the urgent need for unity and functionality of the government, after the 3 October general elections.

Council Dynamics
There seems to be a growing sense among Council members that if the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina collectively and genuinely want integration with the EU that will be an important milestone in reducing tension. But Council members also see this as a key incentive for Bosnia and Herzegovina to undertake the necessary political reforms to ensure that the state is functional. Some Council members are increasingly concerned that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be left further behind in the process of qualifying for EU membership while other Balkan states make strides towards closer European integration.

While concerns remain over secessionist rhetoric, none seem to see any real risk that Dodik would carry out his threat to declare independence for Bosnian Serbs.

Russia appears to remain sensitive about initiatives for constitutional reform, especially if they are seen as new conditions for closing the High Representative’s office. Russia also believes that the High Representative, as a priority, should pro-actively focus on finding compromise solutions to solve the property issue in order for the office to be closed.

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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.6319 (24 May 2010) was the latest briefing of the High Representative to the Council.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/510 (4 October 2010) was from the Secretary-General conveying the latest report on the activities of EUFOR from 1 December 2009 to 31 May 2010.
  • S/2010/235 (17 May 2010) was from the Secretary-General transmitting the most recent report of the High Representative on the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
  • S/2010/113 (23 February 2010) was from the Secretary-General conveying the latest report on the activities of EUFOR from 1 September to 30 November 2009.
  • S/2010/51 (28 January 2010) was 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.

Full Forecast

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