LETTER: Open Letter to International Community in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 19:00
Initiative Type: 


Mr. Peter Sorensen, Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Mr. Valentin Inzko, Office of the High Representative,

Ms. Anne-Marie Esper Larsen, UN Women,

Mr. Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Embassy of the Russian Federation

Mr. Nigel Casey, British Embassy

Ms. Ulrike Maria Knotz, German Embassy,

Mr. Roland Gilles, French Embassy,

Mr. Hideo Yamazaki, Embassy of Japan,

Mr. Ahmet Yildiz, Embassy of the Republic of Turkey,

Ms. Lisa Helfand, Embassy of Canada to Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia,

Mr. Ruggero Corrias, Embassy of Italy,

Mr. Darius Jonas Semaska, Lithuania Embassy, Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Dear Mr./Ms.,

Recently we have been witnessing a new round of talks between leaders of few main political parties in regards to the implementation of the ECHR decision Sejdic and Finci vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina. The discussions are facilitated by the EUSR in BiH, Peter Sorensen and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Stephan Fule. This process is conducted in a blatantly non-democratic and non-transparent fashion, divorced from BiH public sphere and concerns of its citizens.

We are well aware that the implementation of this decision can have major implications on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This decision can be an impeller for change and constitutional reform, which could put an end to the discriminatory articles in the constitution, based on ethnicity and/or gender, and could represent the basis for establishing a truly functional and democratic society. For this to happen the discussions on implementation of the ECHR decision and the constitutional changes need to be inclusive and transparent.

Our current Constitution is a product of the peace agreement negotiated between the international community and male elites representing the warring parties (both from within the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also the neighboring countries). The voices of BiH women have been excluded from all peace talks taking place since 1992, culminating in Dayton Peace Agreement that in its Annex 4 contains the Constitution of BiH. Our currently dysfunctional and awkward structure of the state was negotiated in a military base without any form of influence of the BiH citizens. Instead of putting forth an election process through which we define the political system we want to represent us, the Constitution actually only allows us to reiterate the results of war gains and participate in discrimination against the citizens of BiH (as confirmed by the ECHR decision).

The current process of implementation of the ECHR Sejdic and Finci vs Bosnia and Herzegovina decision once again excludes the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the process of the deciding about themselves, while the complete absence of women is even more symptomatic.

Thus, we are requesting the international community, primarily EU who is facilitating and supporting these talks, to start implementing the UNSCR 1325 and to ensure full participation of women, in the true spirit of the resolution that calls upon involvement of women in peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction.

Furthermore, we are asking the EU to stop supporting the culture of semi-formal, exclusionist and elitist (and strictly male) approaches by taking the discussion back to the official settings within the BiH parliamentary structures, and to ensure that before any constitutional changes can take place an efficient inclusive consultation process with the civil society (including women organization and organizations that work on women's human rights) is put in place.

Failure to do this will delegitimize the whole process in the eyes of the BiH public.


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