Urgent need for constitutional reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Assembly debate on 29 April 2010
(16th Sitting) (see Doc.
12222, report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations
and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring
Committee), co-rapporteurs: Mr Sasi and Ms Woldseth). Text adopted by the Assembly on
29 April 2010 (16th Sitting). See also Recommendation 1914 (2010).
The Parliamentary Assembly recalls
its Resolution 1701 (2010)
the functioning of democratic institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
in which it called the key political stakeholders to engage in meaningful and
constructive dialogue about concrete proposals for constitutional
amendments, with a view to adopting a comprehensive reform package,
removing in particular constitutional discrimination against the
so-called “others” as well as the members of the constituent peoples
who do not reside in the entity where their ethnic group is largely
represented, before the calling of the October 2010 general elections.
It has followed closely the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina
since the adoption of that resolution, especially in the light of
the need to amend the constitution before the elections in execution
of the legally binding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
(the Court) in the case Sejdić and Finci
v. Bosnia and Herzegovina
2 The Assembly is seriously concerned that the initiatives launched
by the authorities so far have not led to any concrete results.
Although still theoretically possible, the adoption of amendments
to the constitution before the calling of the elections appears
to be rather unlikely. Therefore, there is a serious risk that the October
2010 general elections will be once again held in violation of the
European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) and its protocols,
as well as of the judgment of the Court.
3 The Assembly recalls that the revision of electoral legislation,
the elimination of constitutional discrimination against the so-called
“others” and the representatives of constituent peoples not residing
in the entity where their ethnic group is widely represented, preventing
them from standing for the elections to the presidency and to the
House of Peoples, as well as the strengthening of state institutions,
are key outstanding commitments of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Regrettably,
the Assembly notes that, since 2006, very little progress has been
achieved in the implementation of these and other commitments. This
is most disappointing, the Assembly having repeatedly called on
the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to speed up the reforms
and fulfil the outstanding commitments.
4 As noted in previous Assembly resolutions, the lack of constitutional
reform hampers the completion of much-needed reforms in key sectors,
such as democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights,
and slows down the country’s advancement on the path to Euro-Atlantic
integration. In order to end the perpetual cycle of deadlock and
confrontation, the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the
key political stakeholders must shoulder their political responsibilities,
resolve the constitutional reform deadlock and complete the outstanding
post-accession commitments as rapidly as possible.
5 The Assembly is fully aware of the possible implications of
the non-implementation of the Sejdić and Finci judgment before the
October 2010 general elections and of the holding of these elections
on the basis of rules which are in violation of the European Convention
on Human Rights and its additional protocols. In such a case, it
will revert to the matter with a view to taking the requisite political
6 In the meantime, the Assembly urges the authorities of Bosnia
and Herzegovina to lose no time and launch, before the general elections
of October 2010, a serious institutionalised process for the preparation
of a comprehensive package of constitutional amendments, in accordance
with the country’s post-accession commitments, while making full
use of the expertise and recommendations of the European Commission
for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission). This institutionalised
process, based on a clear political mandate, should seek to involve
a broad range of domestic legal experts, in order to make a comprehensive analysis
of all existing proposals and produce a package of concrete amendments
which would generate consensus among the key political stakeholders.
Appropriate consultations with civil society should also be conducted
in due course. This process should continue after the elections
and the formation of new authorities which should make the implementation
of the country’s remaining post-accession commitments, including
the constitutional reform, their political priority.
7 At the same time, the Assembly stresses the importance of
full co-operation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Council of
Europe and urges the authorities to appoint, as rapidly as possible,
members to the Venice Commission, as well as to other Council of
Europe monitoring bodies in which the country has no member yet.
8 The Assembly calls upon all international partners and in
particular the European Union to fully support the proposed institutionalised
process for the preparation of constitutional amendments, in order
to speed up the country’s advancement on the road to Euro-Atlantic
integration. It stresses the importance of the Council of Europe’s
participation in the European Union-Western Balkans Summit to be
held on 2 June 2010, with a view to ensuring appropriate synergies
with key regional and international partners.
9 The Assembly resolves to closely follow the process of constitutional
reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina and invites its Monitoring Committee
to examine regularly the progress achieved by the authorities at
its forthcoming meetings, in order to propose to the Assembly any
further action to be taken as required by the situation.