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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Thank you very much, Mr. President and like others I want to wish you well at the beginning of your Presidency and also to thank again our Vietnamese colleagues for the excellent month we have just concluded.


Mr. President this is the first time that Irelands has actually had an opportunity as a new member to address this issue Bosnia and Herzegovina discussion, so I want to begin by underlining our strong support for a single, sovereign, united and multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also want at the start of course to express our support for the Office of the High Representative and EUFOR Althea in which Ireland is proud to participate.


I would like to thank the High Representative, Mr. Inzko, for his clear and detailed assessment just now of the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also want to welcome among us the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia.


While the report before us sets out some serious issues of concern, I want to start by welcoming some of the positive developments of recent months. There I speak of the holding of local elections in Mostar last December, for the first time in 12 years, that is particularly welcome. As is the adoption of the revised War Crimes Strategy. Ireland also very much welcomes progress on strengthening the rights of survivors of wartime-related sexual violence.  Today, conflict-related sexual violence remains a scourge in conflicts right around the globe. It really is encouraging to see that steps are finally being taken to make long overdue redress to women in Bosnia and Herzegovina who have suffered from such heinous crimes.


Mr President,


Ireland fully supports Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU perspective. We encourage the country to make full use of this year to move ahead decisively in this regard.  Concrete progress on reform of the electoral framework is needed and we urge Bosnia and Herzegovina to be ambitious. These reforms should include constitutional and electoral changes to meet European standards and guarantee that all citizens can exercise their political rights. We know that achieving these much needed reforms will require all sides to show leadership and to engage in a sincere and constructive way.


In addition, progress on the 14 key reform priorities set out in the European Commission Opinion is required, in particular on the rule of law.  This is needed to restore citizens' trust in the judicial system. Bosnia and Herzegovina will only move forward on the EU path only when it delivers on this critical mass of reforms. In this regard, Ireland commends the work of EUSR Sattler and his team.


Like all of us, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has faced serious problems as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.  I want to express Ireland's sympathy for the loss of life. We also welcome the disbursement of the EU's €80 million aid package to help Bosnia and Herzegovina address the pandemic's immediate consequences. We are pleased that the first deliveries of vaccines through the COVAX facility have now begun today I believe. The EU's 2020 Economic and Investment plan will address longer-term strategic challenges faced by the country.


Mr President, Ireland remain greatly concerned by the divisive, negative rhetoric, in particular glorification of war criminals, which only serves to deepen existing divisions and diminishes the prospects for reconciliation. We call on all parties to repudiate such rhetoric and instead to work towards common goals; to address the challenges created by Covid-19 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 surely underpin a stable, prosperous future for Bosnia and Herzegovina. This path will also enable women to participate on a full, equal and meaningful basis in decision-making in all its dimensions. We would appreciate if more focus on the issue of gender equality could be included in reporting by the OHR.


In concluding Mr President,


It is clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina now needs to take decisive steps towards overcoming the dismal legacy of the past. There is much challenging work ahead and we sincerely hope to see decisive steps taken in that direction and achieved this year.


Thank you Mr. President.

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