What's In Blue

Reauthorising Operation ALTHEA and Briefing on Developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tomorrow morning (12 November), the Security Council will adopt a resolution reauthorising the EU-led multinational stabilisation force (EUFOR ALTHEA) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) for a further twelve months. The adoption will be followed by the Council’s bi-annual debate on BiH, which will include a briefing by the High Representative for BiH, Valentin Inzko, on the work of his office and developments in the country since he last addressed Council members in May. (The Office of the High Representative (OHR) was created under the 1995 Dayton Agreement and submits a report twice a year to the Secretary-General, who forwards it to the Security Council.)

The draft resolution to be adopted Tuesday is essentially a technical rollover, authorising the EU to continue its stabilisation mission for another year with no change to the mandate. Azerbaijan produced the first draft, as the penholder for the Contact and Drafting Group for BiH. (This Group consists of France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK, and the US along with the Council members from the Western European and Others Group and the Eastern European Group – currently Australia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan – and the penholder rotates monthly.)The draft resolution was circulated to the larger membership last Wednesday (6 November), placed under silence procedure following a meeting Friday (8 November) and was put in blue today.

One of the changes involved updating the preambular paragraphs of the draft resolution to include the 21 October conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council. For the first time, the Council refers to the Sedjič -Finci ruling in 2009 by the European Court of Human Rights. The case is mentioned in the context of BiH’s EU integration, which has stalled primarily due to its non-implementation of the court decision. (The court ruling found that BiH’s constitution violated EU human rights law by prohibiting minorities from running for certain electoral posts including BiH’s tri-partite presidency, reserved for only Bosniak, Croat and Serb candidates.) European members are expected to cover this issue during the debate as BiH’s non-implementation of the Sedjič -Finci ruling is important, both to be able to move forward in its EU integration and to ensure the legitimacy of the 2014 national elections in BiH.

In referring to Operation ALTHEA, the draft resolution included in its preamble the EU’s language on keeping “the operation under regular review, including on the basis of the situation on the ground.” This seems to reflect the different views among EU members about the necessity of maintaining the operation and its enforcement powers considering the stable security situation for many years. Language has also been added in the preambular section on disposing of excess ammunition.

The draft resolution also mentions for the first time resolution 1966 (2010), which established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals that will takeover the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It seems that Russia sought inclusion of language from resolution 1966 about the ICTY completing its work by the end of 2014. This was opposed by the other members in the BiH Contact and Drafting Group, who contended that the ICTY cannot conclude by then several cases received since 2010, along with the fact that the draft resolution should focus on BiH’s cooperation with the ICTY and the residual mechanism, and not the ICTY’s mandate. The compromise was to make a general reference to the 2010 resolution.

Following the adoption, the Council will be briefed by Inzko on his latest report (S/2013/646). The report depicts once again the political gridlock in BiH, noting, for example, the failure to adopt any new laws at the state level and an on-going constitutional crisis at the entity level in the Federation of BiH. At the local level, such gridlock is demonstrated by the continuing stand-off in Mostar over agreement on a local electoral law, which kept residents from voting in the 2012 municipal elections. During the debate Council members are likely to focus on the importance of breaking the political gridlock and the need for political parties to put the interests of the country above their more narrow interests.

The High Representative’s report also includes examples of provocative statements by Republika Srpska officials questioning the future unity of BiH, including remarks by the Serb member of the presidency linking Kosovo’s independence with Republika Srpska’s right to separate. In addition to such inflammatory remarks, the report noted the Republika Srpska National Assembly declaration attributing the 1990s war on the “domination over the Serb people” in BiH. It also quotes the Croat member of BiH’s presidency stating in July that he would take up arms to preserve the territorial unity of BiH.

As they have done in recent debates on BiH, members will likely express their concern about Republika Srpska statements challenging the future unity of BiH. Russia on the other hand usually takes the view that Inzko’s emphasis on Republika Srpska is misplaced, and can be expected to contend that Bosnians should work out their problems without external interference considering the stable security situation.

As there has been no significant progress made towards the five objectives and two conditions that must be fulfilled to close the OHR, some Council members may be interested in hearing whether there is any possibility of movement in the near future. In particular, some members might highlight at the debate the importance of making progress on state and defense property.

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