Bosnia’s Gordian Knot: Constitutional Reform
By International Crisis Group
Sarajevo/Istanbul/Brussels, 12 July 2012
“Only thorough constitutional reform can resolve Bosnia and Herzegovina’s deep political crisis and implement a landmark European Court of Human Rights decision to put an end to ethnic discrimination.
Bosnia’s Gordian Knot: Constitutional Reform, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, argues that change is essential but a quick fix risks undermining the country’s fragile ethnic balance more than improving minority rights. The European Union (EU) has made reform a precondition for progress towards membership. But past efforts to revise the Dayton Agreement that ended the war in 1995 have failed.
Tensions between two aspects of Bosnia’s federalism – the division into two territorial entities (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska) and three constituent peoples (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs) – have become increasingly difficult to reconcile. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2009 that minorities’ exclusion from the three-member presidency and upper house of parliament is unlawful. All main parties agree that change is needed to eliminate discrimination but they do not concur on how to preserve the rights of the three constituent peoples, especially those of the smallest group, the Croats….”