| IMPACT OF MOST RECENT DECISIONS BY THE HIGH REPRESENTATIVE |
Bosnia’s civic political society had expected that High Representative Christian Schmidt, in accordance with the standard authorities in Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, would seize the opportunity for a democratic transformation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and for the implementation of the findings of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. But this did not happen. There were high expectations especially regarding the findings of the Venice Commission of 2005 and Resolution 1513 of European Parliament, as well as the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. These documents stated that citizens’ representation should replace ethnic representation, thus enabling an effective way of making political decisions and ensuring the political freedoms and equality of every individual.
The focus was on only one part of Bosnia, namely the entity called the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the exclusion of the other entity, Republika Srpska. In this way, it was not possible to arrive at the expected objective of necessary measures that were announced for the deblocking [of the Federation] and for the implementation of electoral results. This would have included once and for all a permanent solution for the election of delegates to the House of Peoples of the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, without reciprocity concerning the Republika Srpska entity in the context of the existing Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and without eliminating the possibility of a blockade of state institutions and those of the Federation, this could not be achieved.
It should be acknowledged that these decisions do represent a step forward toward a more effective way of implementing election results and the functioning of the institutions of the Federation. This is especially the case concerning the reduction of issues touching on so-called “vital national interests” and concerning steps toward resolving the manner of electing delegates in response to the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and proportional representation of the so-called “constituent peoples and others” in harmony with the ethnic composition of the population in every canton.
But the greatest shortcoming of the decisions that were announced is the calculation of elected delegates according to the most recent population census of 2013, whereas for all other calculations the constitutional provisions formulated on the basis of census statistics from 1991 were used. In this way, the results of ethnic cleansing were accepted as a ‘fait accompli.’ In addition, increasing the number of delegates from 17 to 23 effectively ceded priority to those cantons in which the members of one particular ethnic group are dominant. Moreover, the new method of distributing mandates in the House of Peoples has created considerable inequality in the value of the votes cast by certain ethnic groups.
Especially problematical are changes to the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by which the number of delegates needed for nominating a candidate for President and Vice President of the Federation has been increased from 6 to 11, or in other words from one third to early one half [of delegates]. This will make it impossible to nominate a candidate from a canton in which a particular ethnic group is not in the majority. Another weakness of the measures lies in the undefined procedure for nominating a government of the Federation in the case that the President does not make nominations within a certain period of time. Similarly, there is no defined time period for the House of Representatives to confirm a nomination, and the House of Representatives is for all intents and purposes limited in forming a government, including a Prime Minister from a particular national group. In addition to all of this, the procedure for adopting legislation in the Parliament of the Federation is not fully defined. There is no reciprocal intervention into the Constitution of Republika Srpska concerning the election and authorities of the President and Vice President of Republika Srpska and the election and authorities of the Council of Peoples of Republika Srpska. This raises unnecessary suspicions about the intended objectives and intentions of the decisions taken by the High Representative.
It is rational to assume that the purpose of the High Representative was to eliminate the ongoing blockade of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. But, in that case, these decisions should have at least initiated the process of implementing the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, which impacts on all citizens of the state.
The explanation that the High Representative does not have the ability to change the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina since it is an integral part of the Dayton Peace Agreement is not valid. Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement clearly states that “the parties agree that the implementation of civil aspects of the peace agreement encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, including the continuation of providing humanitarian assistance as long as necessary, the reconstruction of infrastructure and of the economy, the setting up of political and constitutional institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, improving respect for human rights, securing the return of refugees and displaced persons and organizing free and fair elections within the deadlines in Annex 3 of the General Outline of the Agreement.”
Although the High Representative would not be able to change the Constitution in terms of the internal arrangement of Bosnia and Herzegovina, nevertheless when it comes to ensuring equal human rights he has not only the authority but the responsibility.
We can conclude that the most recent decisions of the High Representative that have had the greatest impact are those bringing an end to the discussion around the “Ljubic” ruling and the so-called “legitimate representation of constituent peoples.”
A final assessment about the impact and results of the changes to the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Electoral Law will be determined by the implementation of the decisions themselves and by the depth and manner of the subsequent reaction of public opinion.
Summary of Session of 16 October 2022 – 20 The presenter at this session was Dr. Enver Iseric (with moderator Bojan Sosic)
Adil Kulenović, President
|Association of Independent Intellectuals – Circle 99 (Bosnian: Krug 99), a leading Bosnian think-tank, was established in Sarajevo in 1993, in the midst of the Bosnian war (1992-1995), while the capital was under siege. Circle 99 provides a platform to bring together intellectuals of various professional and ethnic identities; university professors, members of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and other prominent figures from Bosnia and from abroad. Multidisciplinary discussions and initiatives are held each Sunday throughout the academic year, in the form of regular sessions about politics, science, education, culture, economy, and other societal issues. The overall goal is to sensitize the public towards a democratic transformation, achieving and maintaining peace, and integration of modern Bosnia into the community of countries fostering liberal democracy. Circle 99 has been declared an organization of special significance for the city of Sarajevo.|