Semi-annual debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Meeting today amid heightened political tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Security Council extended the mandate of the European Union-led stabilization force in the Balkan country for another year, as members reviewed progress on implementation of the 26-year-old Dayton Peace Agreement.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2604 (2021) (to be issued as document S/RES/2604(2021)) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the 15-member Council authorized the Member States acting through or in cooperation with the European Union to establish a multinational stabilization force, or EUFOR-Althea, for another 12 months. EUFOR-Althea is mandated to help implement the military aspects of the Peace Agreement, which was initialled in Dayton, Ohio, in the United States, and signed in Paris in 1995.
Also by the text, the Council renewed its authorization to maintain a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in the country for 12 months.
In the ensuing debate, Council members and representatives of concerned States broadly welcomed the resolution, but were divided about the absence of references in that text to the role played by the Office of the High Representative in implementing the civilian aspects of the Dayton accord, formally known as General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The debate also touched on the budget shortfall of the Peace Implementation Council, which was created in 1995 to rally international support for the Dayton Agreement and provides the High Representative with political guidance. Several members expressed grave concern over the escalated tensions between the predominantly Bosniak and Croat entity and the mostly Serb one, notably the recent announcement by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik that the Republika Srpska would withdraw from joint State institutions.
Estonia’s delegate said he voted in favour of EUFOR-Althea’s operational 12‑month rollover, as the force is a strong contributor to efforts to maintain a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, he would have liked to have seen references to the Office of the High Representative, to previous resolutions and to the country’s path towards its admission to the European Union.
The representative of the United States expressed concern over Mr. Dodik’s statements indicating an intention to withdraw Republika Srpska “entirely” from the Government, adding that such assertions represent “a dangerous path” for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region. As for the Office of the High Representative, she called on all “non-payers” in the Peace Implementation Council to contribute to its budget, adding that the 7 per cent fiscal decline per year over the past few years threatens peace.
The Russian Federation’s representative warned that the worsening political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is being compounded by the irresponsible actions of several external forces. Some Western countries tried to appoint Christian Schmidt as the High Representative in violation of the established practice, he said, insisting that the post, however, remains vacant. He denounced the 30 October report by Mr. Schmidt as an “extremely biased and anti-Serb document aimed at destroying the glimmer of peace and cooperation among people in Bosnia.” Demonizing Serbs appears to be the policy of some external parties, he said, calling for an equitable discussion on ways to end that “outside trusteeship”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s representative said the country is facing its greatest existential threat of the post-war period. Republika Srpska’s move would “turn the clock back 15 years”. Its policy aims to undermine hard-won reforms, not only obstructing implementation of the Dayton Agreement, but reversing it, in a move tantamount to succession without proclaiming it.
The Head of the European Union Delegation, speaking in its capacity as observer, expressed regret that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Constitution remains noncompliant with the European Convention on Human Rights. Calling for an inclusive process of electoral reform through genuine dialogue, in line with European standards, he said all forms of inequality and discrimination should be eliminated from the electoral process.
Croatia’s delegate said the current electoral framework allows for “electoral engineering”, thereby depriving Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina of their right to elect their legitimate representative in the State presidency. “This is unacceptable and has to be changed,” he stressed, adding that he strongly supports legislative changes necessary for the election law to comply with rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and other relevant decisions.
Meanwhile, Serbia’s delegate stressed that the mechanism for enacting a potential change in the Dayton Agreement requires consent of both entities and three constituent peoples. Therefore, any attempt by any other party to impose a solution is unacceptable, he said. Reiterating that dialogue within the institutions is the only way to reach a compromise on important issues, he said that Serbia, as a guarantor of the Dayton Agreement, supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and rejects decisions not reached by consensus.
Also speaking today were representatives of France, Ireland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, United Kingdom, Norway, India, Tunisia, China, Niger, Kenya, Viet Nam and Mexico.
The meeting began at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 4:42 p.m.