Council Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Security Council will hold its biannual debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) tomorrow morning (15 May). The High Representative for BiH, Valentin Inzko, will present his latest report on the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement (S/2014/314). In addition, representatives from the EU delegation, Croatia, Serbia and BiH itself are expected to participate.
In February, BiH experienced its greatest civil unrest since the end of the war in 1995, and Council members are likely to make reference to the initially violent protests over a variety of issues that swept primarily across the Federation of BiH. Some members may note that the protests should serve as a warning to the BiH political class to overcome longstanding gridlock, and to address demonstrators’ grievances over high unemployment, lack of economic development and corruption. They may also applaud the rise of the ‘plenums’, in which Bosnians have continued gathering in public areas to vocalise their problems and address their demands to governments. The report does, however, note that the plenums have started seeing lower participation. Some members could also highlight that the protests should additionally serve as a notice to the international community to refocus efforts and attention towards the country’s problems.
Likewise, many Council members may express concern over divisive and secessionist political rhetoric from Republika Srpska political leaders, in particular from entity president Milorad Dodik, which is well-documented once again in the High Representative’s report. The report notes that such rhetoric intensified after the 16 March referendum in Crimea. On the other hand, Russia will likely contend that Inzko’s report is biased and attributes too much blame to Republika Srpska for BiH’s problems, while it is dysfunction among the political leadership and parties in the Federation that are at the root of the current situation.
Related to both the recent civil unrest, as well as Republika Srpksa rhetoric, members will likely raise the upcoming general elections in October. The Council will not meet again on BiH until November when it is expected to reauthorise the EU led multinational stabilisation force, EUFOR ALTHEA, so this will be an opportunity for Council members to stress that elections be conducted fairly and freely and a chance for Bosnians to elect leaders who will pursue reforms. They may also emphasise that politicians should not try to stoke ethnic tensions in the run-up to elections for electoral gain.
Some members are also likely to comment on BiH’s lack of progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration. The report highlighted that progress towards achieving the five objectives and the two conditions, known as the “5+2 agenda”, remained stalled over the last six months. Successful implementation of this agenda is necessary for the closure of Office of the High Representative (OHR). In addition, although BiH was invited to join NATO’s Membership Action Plan in 2010, lack of progress on immovable defence property being registered as state property has slowed down movement towards NATO integration. In this regard, some members could encourage the High Representative to refocus his efforts on achieving this “5+2” criteria.
Also, as noted in Inzko’s report, BiH’s European integration is on hold due to its inability to implement the Sejdiċ-Finci ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. (In 2009 the court determined that BiH’s constitution violates the European Convention on Human Rights by denying minorities or citizens not identifying themselves as Bosniak, Serb or Croat from running for the presidency and other elected offices.) When the Council renewed EUFOR ALTHEA’s authorisation in resolution 2123 on 12 November 2013, it called on BiH to implement the Sejdiċ-Finci ruling, the first time it had done so. Some Council members may highlight the importance of implementing this ruling as soon as possible.
European members, in particular, may also refer to the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions that were released on 14 April. The conclusions emphasised the EU’s readiness to support initiatives to help BiH address its socioeconomic challenges and institutional development, a position that seemed to be spurred by the February protests and unrest.