Bosnia and Herzegovina

Fifty-first report of the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina (S/2017/379)

Attachments

Letter dated 28 April 2017 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council

Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1031 (1995), I have the honour to transmit the fifty-first report on the implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, covering the period from 22 October 2016 to 21 April 2017, which I received from the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (see annex).

I should be grateful if you would bring the report to the attention of the members of the Security Council.

(Signed) António Guterres

Annex

Letter dated 25 April 2017 from the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina addressed to the Secretary-General

Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1031 (1995) of 15 December 1995, in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Council reports from the High Representative on the implementation of the Agreement, in accordance with annex 10 to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the conclusions of the London Peace Implementation Conference of 8 and 9 December 1995, I transmit herewith the fifty-first report of the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina. I would ask that the report be distributed to the members of the Council for their consideration.

This is my seventeenth regular report to the Secretary-General since I assumed the post of High Representative and European Union Special Representative, on 26 March 2009. The present report covers the period from 22 October 2016 to 21 April 2017.

Should you or a member of the Security Council require any information beyond what is provided in the report or have any questions regarding its contents, I would be pleased to provide you with that information.

(Signed) Valentin Inzko

Fifty-first report of the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Summary

The present report covers the period from 22 October 2016 to 21 April 2017. There have been several challenges during this period, in particular concerning the political situation that has developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a result of the attempt to submit a request for revision of the judgment of the International Court of Justice of 26 February 2007 in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro), and the activities of the Republika Srpska authorities to implement the results of an unconstitutional referendum by adopting the Law on the “Republika Srpska Day” and by observing the “Republika Srpska Day” holiday on 9 January.

The often turbulent political atmosphere notwithstanding, there were also a few positive developments with regard to the country’s efforts towards integration with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union. These included the adoption by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency of the long-outstanding defence review in November, the formal receipt of the European Union questionnaire by the authorities in December and the signing of the Protocol on the adaptation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union in December, which put an end to a long process of negotiations between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the issue.

As the close of the 10-year window within which Bosnia and Herzegovina could submit a request for revision of the above-mentioned judgment of the International Court of Justice approached in February, tensions arose between the Sarajevo-based parties, who supported the revision, and their Republika Srpska counterparts, who opposed it, including the Republika Srpska “Alliance for Changes” parties, which are part of the State-level coalition. The controversy centred around whether the previous agent, Sakib Softic, retained the mandate to submit such a request, as the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and Bosniak war victims’ associations maintained, or whether further action from the Presidency would be needed to renew his mandate, as the Republika Srpska-based parties asserted. Ultimately, the Court decided on 8 March not to consider the request for revision submitted by Mr. Softic on the grounds that no decision had been taken by the competent authorities on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina to request the revision.

These developments led to strong public criticism of the Bosniak member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency and President of SDA from the ruling coalition in the Republika Srpska and strained relations between SDA and its Serb coalition partners in the State-level Government. The controversy played out within the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, which did not hold any regular sessions between 25 January and 11 April. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly was also briefly affected, including the cancellation of at least one session due to lack of a quorum. The authorities in Serbia also negatively viewed the submitting of a request for revision, but they did not overreact.

Continued developments relating to the referendum held on 25 September in the Republika Srpska in contravention of the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina also hindered political progress during the reporting period. In October, the Republika Srpska National Assembly adopted the Law on the Republika Srpska Day, which was presented as the implementing act of the referendum. In December, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided that the Assembly decision of 15 July to hold a referendum was unconstitutional and annulled the referendum results.

On 9 January, despite the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina determining the unconstitutionality of observing the date of 9 January as the “Republika Srpska Day” holiday, the Republika Srpska organized “Republika Srpska Day” celebrations in Banja Luka. Events included a parade of members of the police and civil protection services, sports associations and other groups, as well as the participation of some Serb members of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the reporting period, positive cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia at the Government level continued, notwithstanding the overall negative political atmosphere within Bosnia and Herzegovina. In January, a delegation of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina met in Belgrade with a delegation of the Government of Serbia to discuss bilateral cooperation, after which the Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, expressed clear support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In March, Mr. Vučić visited Sarajevo to meet with other prime ministers from the region ahead of the annual Western Balkans Summit to be held in July 2017. Positive regional cooperation continued in April, with the meeting in Mostar of political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia.

Even as Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration and regional relations improve, the country’s persistent internal political turmoil remains a concern to its immediate neighbours. In an interview on 29 November, the President of Croatia cited “the instability of Bosnia and Herzegovina” as the greatest threat in the surrounding region, indicating that a potential internal conflict in that country could very quickly become a regional conflict.

The rhetoric advocating for the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina emanating from the Republika Srpska authorities, primarily the President of Republika Srpska, has lessened since the imposition of sanctions against him by the United States of America. Nevertheless, statements to that effect have been made during the reporting period, and the possibility of a referendum on independence remains on the party platform of the ruling party in the Republika Srpska. Likewise, Croat leaders continue to advocate for the reorganization of the country along ethnic lines.

Under the authority vested in me under annex 10 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, I take this opportunity to reiterate that the entities have no right to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the Framework Agreement guarantees the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the constitutional position of the entities.