Period: 22 April - 21 October 2017
Resolution 1031 (1995) calls upon all relevant parties to implement the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA); respect the internationally recognised borders of successor states to the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; comply with international humanitarian law; fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); support electoral processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina; assist in the deployment of a multinational implementation force; establishes a High Representative to support coordinate, and mobilise the civilian implementation of the peace agreement; and authorises all member states to assist the implementation force to carry out its mission.
The resolution is gender-blind, as is the DPA.
The Secretary-General reports continued political challenges throughout the period related to the increased focus of political leaders on divisive and nationalistic issues, instead of the focus on economic reforms, and ongoing conversations about a possible referendum for the independence of the Republika Srpska, with ongoing calls by the President of Republika Srpska for Serbian members to withdraw from the judicial institutions in response to the controversial war crimes acquittal by the Bosnia and Herzegovina State Court in October. Additionally, the Secretary-General highlights that corruption and the lack of respect for the rule of law remain serious problems (para. 6), with existing anti-corruption laws remain unimplemented (para. 81). The resulting political atmosphere was described by the report as enabling for hardening of political differences and exploiting and amplifying ethnic divisions, with a strong need to address real reforms (para. 3). Developments in the region included the state’s progress towards joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s regional relations continued to improve, however internal political turmoil remains a concern to its neighbours, including the lack of progress on the registration of prospective defence property (para. 103).
The report is gender-bind with the exception of a single provision concerning the adoption of the Amendments to the Decision on Protection of Civilian Victims of War, concerning protection statutes for victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) (para. 22), which remains unimplemented.
Resolution 1031 (1995) has a central purpose in implementing the DPA. However instead of addressing demilitarisation, the military aspects of the DPA only sought to replace one form of militarised society with another. Furthermore, both the military and civilian aspects of the agreement failed to address the social hierarchies and patriarchal power structures integral to preventing the resurgence of violence. War and violence are inherently counter-productive to security and so long as UN agendas for Bosnia and Herzegovina conscribe to the problematic framework of the DPA, which reinforces these trends, peace and stability will remain elusive.
The exclusion of women’s meaningful participation in Bosnia’s post-war political and economic infrastructures has resulted in deepened gender inequality and the continuation of violence. Similarly, the complete lack of participation from local actors and women in drafting the DPA, engaging with the Security Council, and organising relevant missions such as UNMIBH and EUFOR, has resulted in the misinterpretation of relevant issues in the state by the international community, and prevents progress. Yet neither these historical contexts nor contemporary concerns regarding women’s participation were reflected in the Secretary-General’s report.
Resolution 1031 (1995) lacks a protection mandate for civilians, let alone vulnerable populations such as women or refugees. Nonetheless, the report’s single reference to sexual and gender based violence is encouraging amidst the gender-blind status of its mandate. However such limited integration and progress is of grave concern given the critical role sexual violence played in the Bosnian conflict as a tool of warfare and ethnic cleansing. The gender-blind reporting is even more concerning given the activities of UN Peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Kosovo sexually exploiting women and girls, including by means of sex trafficking.
Resolution 1031 (1995) and the DPA focus on addressing military aspects of the war, and building a new political and economic order in the post-war context, while avoiding addressing the wartime violations or acknowledging wartime experiences of the Bosnian people. Sexual violence survivors of the Bosnian conflict suffered “devastating and often lasting physical and psychological consequences that still affect their day-to-day lives”. The Secretary-General’s report fails to address reparations, community resilience, and other relevant efforts required to address past wrongs and facilitate broad societal recovery. Despite the efforts of advocates and NGOs, there are still survivors who can’t access the medical and financial aid that would improve their quality of life.
Since war crimes trials began in Bosnia in 2004, less than 1% of the total estimated number of victims of war crimes of sexual violence have come to court. Courts across the country have completed only 123 cases involving sexual violence charges and although the number of prosecutions has increased in recent years, more must be done to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Since benefits and services are not universally guaranteed or harmonised across the country, access to them varies depending on place of residence. For example, Republika Srpska does not recognise survivors of conflict-related sexual violence as a special category of war crimes victims and restricts access to any reparation or support severely. Slow and inadequate justice has discouraged survivors from coming forward undermining confidence in the criminal justice system and generating an overwhelming sense of impunity.
Patriarchy, inequalities, militarised masculinities and discriminatory power structures inhibit inclusive peace and violate women’s rights and participation. Despite the limited scope of Resolution 1031 (1995) the Secretary-General must introduce militarisation as a means of analysis in this situation. Furthermore the Secretary-General must advise all relevant actors, including the Security Council, to consider gender sensitive elements of prevention in future mandate and in the current activities on the ground.
The Secretary-General must advise all relevant actors, including the Security Council, to ensure women’s meaningful and influential participation of women in all relevant political, civil, economic, social and cultural fora in this situation, at the national, regional and international levels. Relevant authorities must organise dialogues and discussions with local women activists on women’s engagement in reconstruction efforts, in recognition that gendered and rights-based approaches to political, economic and social policies are essential for recovery.
It is imperative that the Secretary-General reports on human rights violations, including SGBV, in Bosnia, through consultation with civil society, including women leaders and, human rights defenders during field visits and that perpetrators are identified, arrested, and prosecuted. The mission should provide technical assistance to the government for the effective implementation and maintenance of protection measures.
The Secretary-General must call on all relevant actors, including the Security Council, to develop and implement gender-sensitive reparations systems that build sustainable and lasting peace, as well as address past wrongs and current needs of those who would not otherwise be able to fully recover or fully participate in the public sphere. In future, the Secretary-General must report on gender-specific harms and social injuries precluding recovery in the current situation, as well as efforts to overcome these barriers. WILPF’s analysis also highlights the importance of a two-track approach to post-conflict reconstruction which includes: 1) providing gender-sensitive reparations for the harms suffered by civilians and 2) guaranteeing strong social institutions and an economy for peace that guarantees women’s economic, social and cultural rights. Since reparations alone cannot guarantee rights across the board, and institutions alone do not ensure justice, both are needed.
There have been recent changes aimed at strengthening access to support and improving services for survivors. However these remain piecemeal and vary dramatically in different parts of the country. Unless these changes are fully institutionalized in all parts of the country, their impact will be limited and haphazard. The authorities must remove the discriminatory obstacles which prevent access to reparations and replace them with measures that guarantee equal protection and support for all survivors regardless of where they live.