Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina
Statement11 May 2022
Thank you very much indeed, Madam President.
I would like to warmly welcome High Representative Schmidt to the Security Council table for the first time and also to welcome the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Mr Džaferović – you’re very welcome.
I want to thank the High Representative for his briefing just now and to emphasize Ireland’s strong support for a single, sovereign, united and multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for the Office of the High Representative.
The High Representative has just provided a clear and detailed assessment of the deeply concerning, continuing political deadlock and blockages in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ireland remains fully supportive of the Office of the High Representative and we encourage all parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina to both respect and engage to the fullest extent with the High Representative and his office.
We would particularly encourage greater progress in fulfilling the 5+2 Agenda. Delivery of this agenda remains the agreed prerequisite for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.
We remain greatly concerned by the deeply divisive, negative rhetoric from political leaders in BiH, which only serves to diminish the prospects for reconciliation. We call on all parties to renounce such rhetoric and to refrain from unilateral actions that seek to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are convinced that the deadlock can be overcome through dialogue. The lack of genuine dialogue in the country has been missing for a long time.
We are concerned, in particular, at the glorification of war criminals. There is no place in any 21st century society for the glorification of war criminals and the denial of genocide.
It’s high time that the State institutions begin to function fully again and that steps are taken to dismantle State competences cease. The country needs to focus on a positive agenda. All sides have a responsibility to do so.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, like all of us, was not spared the serious problems resulting from the COVID‑19 pandemic. Now again, like all of us, the population are feeling the consequences of the war in Ukraine in higher food and energy costs. It is therefore more important than ever that responsible politicians now return to State institutions and address these challenges together, for the benefit of the entire population of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As we know, elections have been called for next October. But, the political deadlock and paralysis of State institutions are already compounding the frustration of the Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens. It is a factor driving so many young people who, rather than waiting for the ballot box, sadly seem to be voting with their feet and leaving the country.
Despite the challenges, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been able to make significant achievements over the past quarter‑century, in building up its institutions of government and developing its economy and society. It has shown that the political path can work for all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This could continue if elected representatives, working together with national leaderships, demonstrate the political will required.
Ireland fully supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective. This is why we call on all parties to work towards common goals; to address the challenges facing the country and to step up the pace on implementing the reforms needed for EU accession.
This means addressing the needs of all citizens. We call on all parties to uphold and respect equality and inclusion as key principles that will underpin a stable prosperous future for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such an approach should enable women to rightfully participate in decision-making in all its dimensions. We know that regrettably the participation of women in politics remains low. We urge the authorities to ensure the development of effective mechanisms for the implementation of quotas to enhance women’s political representation. We yet again call on the High Representative to focus on the issue of gender equality and for reporting on the issue to be included in the future OHR reports. This is, actually, a fundamental issue for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Madam President, we know there are frustrations on all sides regarding the functionality of the country – we understand them – but those issues must be addressed through a constructive dialogue on constitutional and electoral reform.
Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to undertake further constitutional and electoral reforms to ensure equality and non-discrimination of all citizens, notably by implementing Sejdić-Finci case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). No legislative or political steps should be taken which would make the implementation of the Sejdić-Finci and related ECtHR rulings more challenging or further deepen divisions.
We must be clear in calling for an inclusive process of constitutional and electoral reform, through genuine dialogue, and in line with international standards. Such a process would eliminate all forms of inequality and discrimination in the electoral process. At the same time, we stress the importance of the state elections proceeding as scheduled next October.
An agreement on these issues would undoubtedly bring Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to EU candidate status. Progress is required on the 13 other key reform priorities set out in the European Commission Opinion, in particular on the rule of law. This is essential to restore citizens’ trust in the judicial system. Bosnia and Herzegovina will only move forward on its EU path when it delivers on this critical mass of reforms.
Ireland believes that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s place is in the European Union. While it has much challenging work ahead of it, we hope that its leaders will resume the dialogue needed to tackle, step‑by-step in a pragmatic way, the issues facing the country.
We will certainly continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome the dismal legacy of the past and realise its full potential as a sovereign state within the European family of nations.