Today the 22 December there is a disturbing anniversary. It is today 10 years since the delivery of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Sejdic and Finci case.
This judgment confirmed the discriminatory nature of the electoral system in Bosnia and Herzegovina – preventing all those not willing or capable to affiliate with a constituent people (i.e. Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs) or not meeting a combination of requirements of ethnic origin and place of residence – from standing for election to the Presidency and the House of the Peoples.
Despite numerous efforts necessary reforms have not been adopted and the situation has been characterised by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as a manifest breach of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unconditional obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, and thus also of its undertakings as a member State of the Council of Europe.
In order to eventually overcome this serious situation and move efficiently forward, the Committee extended already last spring an invitation to a minister of the new government to emerge from the 2018 elections to come to the Council of Europe’s headquarters in Strasbourg, France to discuss the strategy necessary to ensure that constitutional and legislative arrangements are in place before October 2021 i.e. one year before the next 2022 elections. This meeting has been repeatedly postponed as a result of the difficulties in forming a new government after the 2018 elections.
These difficulties have recently been overcome and the long-awaited resumption of the necessary political and legal processes is awaited within shortly. Preliminary contacts between the political leaders and the Council of Europe have already been taken, notably through the Council of Europe Office in Sarajevo and the Council of Europe Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, most recently in the context of a mission 18-20 December 2020.
The necessity of efficient action is underlined by the fact that the Convention should, as expressly stated in the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, be superior to all laws in the country and that all persons in the country should enjoy the rights and freedoms guaranteed, including in the political field.