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Home EJIL Analysis Grand Chamber Judgment in Sejdic and Finci v. Bosnia

Grand Chamber Judgment in Sejdic and Finci v. Bosnia

Published on December 22, 2009        Author: 

Update 6 September 2010 – see also this post.

Appropriately enough in light of our recent discussions of international constitutionalism, today the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of Sejdic and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina (application nos. 27996/06 and 34836/06) (our previous coverage here; judgment here, but the HUDOC link might not be permanent). The case is by any definition a landmark for Strasbourg, not to mention Sarajevo.

The applicants were Bosnian nationals, who are respectively Roma and Jewish by their ethnicity. They complained that, despite possessing experience comparable to the highest elected officials, they are prevented by the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina from being candidates for the Presidency and the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly solely on the ground of their ethnic origins, since these position are reserved for members of the so-called ‘constituent’ peoples, i.e. Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats, as part of the Dayton peace settlement. The Court agreed with the applicants, by 14 votes to 3, that their ineligibility to stand for these positions constituted unjustified discrimination.

The Court started its analysis by emphasizing the odious nature of racial or ethnic
discrimination, which it would subject to strictest possible scrutiny (para. 44). It then considered whether the preservation of peace in Bosnia could be a legitimate aim for differential treatment (para. 45):

Turning to the present case, the Court observes that in order to be eligible to stand for election to the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one has to declare affiliation with a “constituent people”. The applicants, who describe themselves to be of Roma and Jewish origin respectively and who do not wish to declare affiliation with a “constituent people”, are, as a result, excluded (see paragraph 11 above). The Court notes that this exclusion rule pursued at least one aim which is broadly compatible with the general objectives of the Convention, as reflected in the Preamble to the Convention, namely the restoration of peace. When the impugned constitutional provisions were put in place a very fragile cease-fire was in effect on the ground. The provisions were designed to end a brutal conflict marked by genocide and “ethnic cleansing”. The nature of the conflict was such that the approval of the “constituent peoples” (namely, the Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs) was necessary to ensure peace. This could explain, without necessarily justifying, the absence of representatives of the other communities (such as local Roma and Jewish communities) at the peace negotiations and the participants’ preoccupation with effective equality between the “constituent peoples” in the post-conflict society.

The Court, however, refused to decide whether the preservation of peace in Bosnia could still be legitimate aim, because proportionality was nonetheless lacking (paras. 46-50):

It is nevertheless the case that the Court is only competent ratione temporis to examine the period after the ratification of the Convention and Protocol No. 1 thereto by Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Court does not need to decide whether the upholding of the contested constitutional provisions after ratification of the Convention could be said to serve a “legitimate aim” since for the reasons set out below the maintenance of the system in any event does not satisfy the requirement of proportionality.

To begin with, the Court observes significant positive developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the Dayton Peace Agreement. It is true that progress might not always have been consistent and challenges remain (see, for example, the latest progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina as a potential candidate for EU membership prepared by the European Commission and published on 14 October 2009, SEC/2009/1338). It is nevertheless the case that in 2005 the former parties to the conflict surrendered their control over the armed forces and transformed them into a small, professional force; in 2006 Bosnia and Herzegovina joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace; in 2008 it signed and ratified a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union; in March 2009 it successfully amended the State Constitution for the first time; and it has recently been elected a member of the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term beginning on 1 January 2010. Furthermore, whereas the maintenance of an international administration as an enforcement measure under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter implies that the situation in the region still constitutes a “threat to international peace and security”, it appears that preparations for the closure of that administration are under way (see a report by Mr Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Community and Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Mr Olli Rehn, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, on EU’s Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Way Ahead of 10 November 2008, and a report by the International Crisis Group on Bosnia’s Incomplete Transition: Between Dayton and Europe of 9 March 2009).

In addition, while the Court agrees with the Government that there is no requirement under the Convention to abandon totally the power-sharing mechanisms peculiar to Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the time may still not be ripe for a political system which would be a simple reflection of majority rule, the Opinions of the Venice Commission (see paragraph 22 above) clearly demonstrate that there exist mechanisms of power-sharing which do not automatically lead to the total exclusion of representatives of the other communities. In this connection, it is recalled that the possibility of alternative means achieving the same end is an important factor in this sphere (see Glor v. Switzerland, no. 13444/04, § 94, 30 April 2009).

Lastly, by becoming a member of the Council of Europe in 2002 and by ratifying the Convention and the Protocols thereto without reservations, the respondent State has voluntarily agreed to meet the relevant standards. It has specifically undertaken to “review within one year, with the assistance of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the electoral legislation in the light of Council of Europe standards, and to revise it where necessary” (see paragraph 21 above). Likewise, by ratifying a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union in 2008, the respondent State committed itself to “amend[ing] electoral legislation regarding members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency and House of Peoples delegates to ensure full compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe post-accession commitments” within one to two years (see paragraph 25 above).

Thus, the Court concludes that the applicants’ continued ineligibility to stand for election to the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina lacks an objective and reasonable justification and has therefore breached Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1.

The Court then proceeded to make the same finding in respect of the lack of eligibility for the state presidency, this time, however, relying on Article 1 of Protocol 12 to the ECHR, containing a general, far-reaching prohibition of discrimination (paras. 55-56). This is the first time that the Court has found a violation of Protocol 12 on the merits, but it will not be the last.

From the Strasbourg perspective, the result could hardly have been different. Ethnic discrimination is repugnant to any form of liberalism, and the Court would simply not set any precedent that could justify such inequality in some vaguely defined exceptional circumstances. Viewed from Sarajevo, however, the clarity of the law does not sit very comfortably with the messy facts on the ground. Bosnia is still an ethnically divided, barely functioning state, that is hard to recognize from the Court’s accounting of various ‘positive developments.’

What now remains to be seen is whether the Court’s judgment will make an actual difference. I personally find it hard to believe that it will. A change in the Bosnian constitution (which does not require a revision of Dayton Peace Agreement itself, as wrongly suggested by Judge Bonello in his dissent) depends solely on political agreement among the major players in Bosnia, each caring only about his little fiefdom. Such agreement on constitutional change has been lacking for a long time, and it does not seem likely to emerge in the near future. Whatever Strasbourg might say, even much more effective incentives for change, such as those from the EU accession process, have so far failed to reconcile the various parties. Bosnia in many ways still remains profoundly illiberal, and skepticism should be the default option when it comes to assessing the will and the ability of the current crop of its political leaders into making it a better place for everybody concerned.

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20 Responses

  1. Sheri Rosenberg

    Marko,

    Thank you for the comments. I agree that the decision is a landmark for ECHR jurisprudence and for Sarajevo. Where we disagree though is on the potential impact in Sarajevo. I am less pessimistic than you about its potential impact in BiH.

    This issue has never been a particularly contentious one. All parties agree this should be changed (see 12 November 1999 Crisis Group briefing – Bosnia’s Dualing Crisis). This is also evidenced by the handling of the case by Bosnia. (I was counsel for Mr. Finci). The hold up has been the fact that the changes to these provisions have been part of the broader constitutional amendment package.

    The beauty of this ruling is that it provides greater incentive than many other EU type incentives because complying with ECHR decisions is a relatively clear and bright-line requirement for EU accession. Moreover, the decision gives politicians political-cover if you will — by providing a legal reason for change outside the hands of the policital process. In the end, it is a decision for not against Bosnia.

    Having said this, what will actually happen in Sarajevo is anyone’s guess. I am not blind to the challenging (to say the least) environment that exists.

    Prof. Sheri P. Rosenberg
    Counsel for Jakob Finci
    Director, Human Rights and Genocide Clinic
    Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, NY

  2. Anne Peters

    Dear Marko, Thank you for this comment.
    The judgment seems to be important in many respects, e.g. for devloping further the new strict line of the Court on racial discrimination.
    Another aspect is that it seems to be the first time that the Court ruled on the violation of the ECHR by a state *constitution* (even if that constitution is a somewhat special one, being adopted as an annex to an international treaty (the Dayton agreement). As far as I know, it had previously been highly contested whether the Bosnian constitution itself should conform to the ECHR, or whether the respective clause in the Dayton agreement meant only that “ordinary” laws could be assessed under ECHR standards.
    This ruling will therefore also be a precedent for the Strasbourg scrutiny of the new Swiss *constitutional* provision on the prohibition of Minarets …
    Anne Peters

  3. Marko Milanovic Marko Milanovic

    Sheri,

    Well, we’ll of course have to wait and see what happens, and I understand your optimism, but the power of spite should never be underestimated in the Balkans, and in Bosnia in particular. Politicians first need to have a desire for change in order to find use in the presumed political cover given to them by the European Court. I think they (and the Dodik-Silajdzic duo especially) are perfectly happy where they are now, i.e. nowhere.

    Anne,

    Yes, quite right, this is the first time that I know that the Court found a constitution as such to be in violation of the ECHR. I must say that I find it terribly amusing, really, that Bosnia serves as a lesson for Switzerland. Ah, ’tis truly a season of joy.

    Seriously, though, the previous decisions of the Bosnian Const Court on all of this are well worth a read, with the various judges struggling with the obvious tension or norm conflict between the several parts of the Constitution. I think that they are all available in English.

  4. Accursius

    It I read it right, the Judgment nowhere states that the Constitution has to be amended (Bosnian judge Mijović openly acknowledged that in her separate/dissenting op.), although that is the only natural consequence (also, unlike some pilot judgments, this Judgment has not gone into details of what has to be done). It also avoided the question of the conflict of B&H Constitution and the Convention (by not openly stating the priority of the later over the first, a question that has plagued the B&H Constitutional Court since 2004, with DIRECT CONSEQUENCES of that in manner of direct application/effect of the later, making it an obligation for the domestic court of putting aside the conflicting norms when such a situation arises before it… ECHR is not ECJ after all).

    But in the end it seems to me that this raises the even more important consequence. The discrimination of “Others”, although it may sound rather stupid, is a trivial matter in B&H politics (everyone agrees that it should be changed, and it will be done – it has not been done thus far since they amend the Constitution in all-or-nothing fashion). What this may create is a very peculiar case of discrimination. Now it may happen that “Others” could be elected for the Presidency (its structure/nature also must now be changed) from both entities in B&H, while members of “constitutional peoples” will not. Constitutional Court has already found that restriction on passive electoral right of Bosniaks (and Croatians) in Republika Srpska (it also goes for Serbs in Federation of B&H), is proportional to the legitimate aim pursued (peace, stability etc.), and although the decision itself could be criticized as contradicting the case-law of the same Court it seems to have internal logic (otherwise, i.e. Bosniaks, by the fact of overall numbers, could elect its own AND Serbian member of Presidency; that has already happened with Croatian member). All of this might result in a situation where minorities could have passive electoral rights in all B&H, while “constitutional peoples” might not, since different tests of proportionality would apply. Expect more cases before ECHR!

  5. Damir

    Hello,

    the case is not highly contentious at all – in “purely” legal terms (both domestically and internationally) its more or less a slam dunk, an issue on which there is a consensus everywhere (though previously it was ducked as “nationalistic” demand). The only added value I see is that its a proclamation stemming from the ECHR that still enjoys some measure of authority. But if you want to play the “blame game” – that is start figuring out who is to blame for present situation / you should look up Richard Holbrook somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan (if you manage to find him) and also those that proclaim Dayton agreement their own success – where the praise is due, so are the dues – and don’t send it to wrong address. And btw. Marko, given that you do not live in Bosnia, please restrain yourself from making bold, general and citation-free statements on “profoundly illiberal Bosnia” and the “Silajdzic – Dodik” line (perhaps unfortunately for you and most of the IC what Silajdzic is saying is well founded in both facts and law, its a separate matter weather his goals are realistic or no). Otherwise, your opinions might start appearing like pretensions of neutrality.

  6. ezechiel

    Marko,

    It seems that you either do not know the current political situation in Bosnia or that you intentionally seek to give a distorted image of it, for whatever reason.

    To anyone who lives in Bosnia, or follows the political developments there, it is clear who stands in the way of Bosnia advancing towards the European Union and becoming a fully functional state. The main obstacle is the Bosnian Serb leadership, with Dodik at its top. He is consistently blocking any law that would contribute to Bosnia becoming more functional. The main reason why he does that is so that he can claim that Bosnia is not functional, as you do in your final paragraph, in the hope that the West will give up on the country that has suffered so much in recent history.

    With statements you make in your final paragraph about each player’s fiefdom, Bosnia being illiberal, failing reconciliation and the equating of all of Bosnia’s political players, you give support to Dodik’s agenda – which ultimately is to break up Bosnia and finalize the goals which could not even be achieved by committing genocide.

    You should be aware (by reading news reports for example) that Bosniak and Croat leadership would support a constitutional amendment implementing the ECHR’s judgement. It is because of Dodik’s agenda that Bosnian citizens have to turn to Strasbourg in order to have their constitution amended to modern standards.

    You are an admirable academic and I have read many of your publications with pleasure and with agreement. I sincerely hope that in this case it was lack of research, rather than opposition to a functional, multi-ethnic Bosnia that resulted in your final paragraph.

  7. Marko Milanovic Marko Milanovic

    Ezechiel,

    Thanks for your comments, and please let me try to correct what it seems is your misunderstanding of what I was trying to say in regard of the political situation in Bosnia – perhaps I was not sufficiently clear: there is no doubt in my mind that Dodik is the most horrible, malignant figure in Bosnia’s politics today, and that he is doing his best, or worst, to make Bosnia as disfunctional as possible. I am not trying to equate the contribution to Bosnia’s misfortune by the various politicians, and I am most certainly not supporting Dodik’s agenda.

    Silajdzic, however, though not worse than Dodik, is certainly not any better. He is also a nationalist, who panders constantly to the worst elements of his constituency, and who ultimately cares about nothing but himself and his own power. He is also part of the problem, rather than the solution. And Bosnia is indeed still a deeply illiberal society, which allows the likes of Dodik, Silajdzic, et al, to thrive and keep their hold on the rest of the country. Not that my own country, Serbia, is much better.

  8. ezechiel

    Marko,

    Hail the sound of reason! I fully agree with your response and appreciate you taking time to clarify your view. Bosnia would be much better off without Dodik and Silajdzic. Perhaps though you are too pessimistic on the question of how liberal Bosnia and Serbia are. In light of recent history, it is a small miracle that large numbers of citizens of major cities, capital cities at the least, have liberal views and could be considered beacons of light in the Balkan darkness (perhaps I am too naive).

    I hope that soon the countries and the peoples of the Western Balkans will deal fiercely with their past so that once and for all they can turn to the future, with mutual respect for each other and each other’s differences, and most importantly, that the hell of the 1990s never repeats itself.

  9. Anne and Marko,

    please forgive my late reply, and quite possibly my lack of understanding: I fail to see why the first time that a constitutional provision as such has been held to be in violation of the ECHR has any particular relevance, inasmuch as concerns the practice of the Strasbourg Court.

    While I cannot claim to be sure, this may well have been the first time that the immediate effect of a constitutional provision has been held to violate the Convention, and in the absence of any individual act of application at that (paras. 28-29 of the Judgment). This wouldn’t have happened a lot, largely because the Court usually requires that applicants have a provision – of any domestic rank – applied to them before they may be considered ‘victims’ of any violation of the Convention (exceptions being cases like Dudgeon v. United Kingdom and, in a somewhat different respect, Soering v. United Kingdom).

    It seems to me, however, that this does not stand in terribly marked contrast to cases in which the application of constitutional provisions has been considered under the Convention, such as Gitonas and Others v. Greece or United Communist Party of Turkey and Others v. Turkey. As para. 30 of the latter case records, it makes no difference for the purpose of the Article 1 concept of jurisdiction whether an act violating the Convention is an administrative measure, a law of any kind or even the Constitution itself (or, as Prince Hans-Adam II. of Liechtenstein v. Germany, para. 46, added, an international treaty engagement). In effect, this is no less than an application of the general rule of Articles 26 and 27 VCLT, Article 3 ILC-ASR (that André de Hoogh has explained so well in a more recent post) in the context of the ECHR, with the added statement that Article 1 does not restrict the reach of the Convention so as to catch only sub-constitutional law or any other more limited category of ‘jurisdiction’.

    The fact alone that the violation derived from a Constitution – such as would also be present in the Swiss case -, then, seems to me to be nothing to the point. International law, and with it the European Court, stands head and shoulders above that.

    Of course, international law will look at whether the Contracting Party, as an international legal entity, is reponsible for the provisions at issue. That did raise a bit of an issue in Sejdic and Finci, inasmuch as the Constitution was, of course, originally ‘given’ in the Dayton Peace Agreement, and in large part by outside actors (para. 30 of the Judgment). But that is not a question related to the constitutional stature of the provisions as such. I would regard this, rather, as a matter of compatibility ratione personae.

    Indeed, even if a Contracting Party were ever taken to task at Strasbourg for a provision of its original constitution that, by force of that constitution, could never be repealed or amended, I shouldn’t think that that state would escape the Court’s scrutiny, so long as the constitution remained an emanation of its own ‘jurisdiction’.

    But of course, none of that is to say that the constitutional context may not make compliance with the judgment – in Bosnia as, hypothetically, in Switzerland – much more difficult than it could otherwise be.

    Do I sense any disagreement? Were you, in fact, talking only about the issue in para. 30 of the Judgment?

  10. Marko Milanovic Marko Milanovic

    Tobias,

    No disagreement here. As you say, it is legally irrelevant whether the ECHR was violated by a constitution as such, or by an administrative act, or what have you. Politically, however, it can be quite difficult to bring back a state into compliance with the ECHR when it is its own constitution that needs amending, and that was my only point.

  11. Damir

    So Marko you wrote

    “# Marko Milanovic January 4th, 2010 at 19:37

    Ezechiel,

    Thanks for your comments, and please let me try to correct what it seems is your misunderstanding of what I was trying to say in regard of the political situation in Bosnia – perhaps I was not sufficiently clear: there is no doubt in my mind that Dodik is the most horrible, malignant figure in Bosnia’s politics today, and that he is doing his best, or worst, to make Bosnia as disfunctional as possible. I am not trying to equate the contribution to Bosnia’s misfortune by the various politicians, and I am most certainly not supporting Dodik’s agenda.

    Silajdzic, however, though not worse than Dodik, is certainly not any better. He is also a nationalist, who panders constantly to the worst elements of his constituency, and who ultimately cares about nothing but himself and his own power. He is also part of the problem, rather than the solution. And Bosnia is indeed still a deeply illiberal society, which allows the likes of Dodik, Silajdzic, et al, to thrive and keep their hold on the rest of the country. Not that my own country, Serbia, is much better.”

    Marko, you are definitely biased while pretending to be neutral (and btw. who cares about Serbia in terms of this discussion, why bring that up?). Can you please substantiate your claims of Silajdzic’s “nationalism” (another citation free catch word you seem to be fond of using?) You said “Worse elements of his constituency” – can you name few? Silajdzic was backing up this law suit all the way – interesting type of “nationalist.”

  12. Long awaited official conclusion that discrimination in Bosnia and Herzegovina exists, finally has been published by European court for human rights.

    What, by the education, average citizen in EU country knows by heart, is that all people are equal by the law, but in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the opposite.

    Not just average citizen, but majority of citizens are absolutely convinced that racism and ethnic origin are of great importance for their future. Would they be friendly to each other, the sole idea of being for one’s nation would not be unnatural.

    The European court for human rights clearly said that discrimination by ethnic origin is racism.

    When thinking that some schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina are completely separated by the ethnic origin, we can observe that racism is the mainstream politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Literacy is the key to awareness of the people. Now we have to ask: Where ARE the thinking people of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

    There are many. Many are aware. But majority is illiterate, living in far away villages, and not being able to read and hear and understand their own biased TV station. Unspoken of Court rulings in regards to human rights.

    And only small number of those who are aware, dare to speak.

    The result is degraded people under fascist and racism regime.

  13. Damir

    Jean Louis,

    thoughtful comment, but lacking information about the legal situation in Bosnia.
    Dayton Peace Ag. was imposed in Bosnia by the US, with the consent of the UN and all other interested parties. Hence, you should rethink the adress to send charges of racism.
    Racism and discrimination particularly that in schools was attacked for yours by a number of Bosnian political parties, most prominently the multiethnic ones (Social Democrats) and even more Bosniak (Muslims) parties. The staunchest defender of segregated schools was on the one hand the EU Comission in Bosnia and the US, which they perceived as a threat to a stability of the system they created.
    On discriminatory provisions within the voting laws (a subject of Sejdic Finci decision) the situation is the same. Provisions were attacked for years and years now by the same parties I mentioned above – includin Silajdzic as the most vocal one – but they were bashed by again the EU and the US as nationalists arguing for the equality of both active and passive voting right for all persons, because such voting system would favor (in the end) numerically superior Bosniaks (Muslims) – and thats the whole issue, the US and EU perceive Muslims as a potential threat (you know across which lines). Dayton Agreement and the Annex IV Constitution were created as a copy paste of Lebanon Constitution – and if you know anything about the effects of the Lebanon constitution on the way of life and demographics, you can imagine how things would look like in 10 years. So again, please send your comments to adrss where its due.

  14. Damir, you said:
    “The staunchest defender of segregated schools was on the one hand the EU Comission in Bosnia and the US, which they perceived as a threat to a stability of the system they created.” — but the court did not find that claim, nor have you shown basis for that claim.

    Further, it is silly to say that EU/US are responsible for the racism in Bosnia. Sorry, that is not true. It is very clear that people in Bosnia in general do not have conscience about their responsibilities and they are unable to choose leaders to bring them some good. So, criminal leaders put themselves on top position by simply throwing money on marketing and racism theories, dangers “from others”.

    My comment is on the court decision.

    I have read many constitutions and I know what are basic human rights. There is no excuse that EU/US are responsible: that is your country and people in your country are responsible as they have chosen wrong leaders and they like to be separated and they like to listen of dangers “from other people”, as that is nature of a degraded group that throughout the centuries could not find its place in the peaceful frame.

    It is their legacy. It is in their history that on that ground, people have been fighting for centuries, have been mean to each other.

    It is time to learn how it works in civilized countries.

  15. Damir

    Jean Louis,

    I think you are poorly informed and btw. Bosnia is not my country. You are basically throwing of rather cliche-like opinions i.e. “danger from other people,” “degraded group,” and than some citation free opinions about Balkans history, which for some reason I think you have no idea of (talking of natural disposition towards knowledge).
    Please first read on the Dayton Peace Agreement its background, and the principle framers (recommended reading R. Holbrook “To End a War”), and than about the decision-making mechanism, something that the ECHR had to elegantly avoid discussing, though they aware of the problem.
    On human rights etc., would you proclaim the Lebanese constitution to be a shining flag and a human rights victory, and if so how would you defend it? Also, I like you comment on “learning how it works in civilized countries” – I know one interesting civilized country called France and here is my favorite quote from their ex-president Mitterand (recounted by ex-pres. Bill Clinton in his last book), source
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/books/excerpt-clinton-tapes.html?pagewanted=5

    and a quote of the day is
    “Clinton said U.S. allies in Europe blocked proposals to adjust or remove the embargo. They justified their opposition on plausible humanitarian grounds, arguing that more arms would only fuel the bloodshed, but privately, said the president, key allies objected that an independent Bosnia would be “unnatural” as the only Muslim nation in Europe. He said they favored the embargo precisely because it locked in Bosnia’s disadvantage. Worse, he added, they parried numerous alternatives as a danger to the some eight thousand European peacekeepers deployed in Bosnia to safeguard emergency shipments of food and medical supplies. They challenged U.S. standing to propose shifts in policy with no American soldiers at risk. While upholding their peacekeepers as a badge of commitment, they turned these troops effectively into a shield for the steady dismemberment of Bosnia by Serb forces. When I expressed shock at such cynicism, reminiscent of the blind-eye diplomacy regarding the plight of Europe’s Jews during World War II, President Clinton only shrugged. He said President François Mitterrand of France had been especially blunt in saying that Bosnia did not belong, and that British officials also spoke of a painful but realistic restoration of Christian Europe.”

    So much for civilization, but the debate is about the ECHR decision, not useless past French presidents.

  16. Dear Damir,

    If Bosnia is not your country, then please stop talking that I am poorly informed as I am very much informed and I know the situation of all former countries.

    Why do you cite Clinton and outsiders. Why don’t you walk around the villages and ask the people. I have done reports and research of the current and past situation in Bosnia with my own eyes, and I don’t need media and third party informations to build my opinion.

    Bosnia has NOT implemented basic human rights in the ruling system, its constitution is not in accordance with the EU based constitution, Bosnia has discriminatory policies, segregated schools and segregated people.

    Bosnia is RACIST country. That is DE FACTO.

    Words on this forum and discussion source from intelligent people, obviously, including you, people who are thinkers.

    But in Bosnia, the great majority of people are not thinkers, they are lead by primitive urges and the country is not civilized.

    Bosnia is RACIST country. That is DE FACTO.

  17. Damir

    Jean Louis,

    in response, I think I have walked the villages of Bosnia both before, during and after the war, so my empirical experience is immense, not to mention that I do speak all those “different” languages which would sort of put me into a better position to judge situation than yourself.

    But that’s not the point – whether people in villages are racists or not, that is up to you to make up your mind and your judgment will depend on your perspective. If one is to follow that logic of going from village to village and city to city, on some scale of racism we would thoroughly and consistently condemn the US as a racist country only by having a short walk down the South and Central Los Angeles, or for example asking Chicanos or Asian-Americans if they think they are being treated in a non-racist way by their fellow white citizens (imagine response). To take a more European example, a cursory public poll of Algerians in Paris would probably find that most of them consider white French to be racist. But it would be a far fedged move to judge a whole legal system racist by relying on social facts and judgments.

    But your points are wholly of-track and you are not responding to what is my major claim. Dayton Peace Agreement and its Anex IV (the current constitution) places the supreme decision making power (by supreme i mean so supreme that it overrides decisions made using democratic means) in Bosnia into hands of a so-called Peace Implementation Council which consists of the representatives of the US, EU, number of European countries (Germany, France, etc.), Russia, Turkey and international organizations. Moreover, the same constitution proclaims European Convention of Human Rights to be superior to all other legal documents. Further, the said Peace Implementation Council is in charge of enforcing the constitution, hence enforcing the European Convention of Human Rights in Bosnia, due to its supreme position as a decision making and enforcement body.
    Now from that it follows that if fifteen years after Dayton has been signed, the provisions of the European Con., including its provisions on discrimination on any grounds have not been enforced (hence the Finci judgment) within the Bosnian legal system, you tell me where the blame is due. That is my major claim throughout the comments I have made and you still have not responded to any of that – rather, the debate is obfuscated trough your personal sociological opinions and judgments.

    Do you have any legal arguments against what I have put forward above?

  18. Bosnia is RACIST country. That is DE FACTO, confirmed.

    Bosnia is country — country led by few, not by people. People are responsible to choose their leaders as they can turn-over the situation, but they don’t and it is not predictable when those Bosnian people would make the change.

    Leaders and the government is RACIST and that has been shown in the court. When the constitution itself is RACIST, then their politicians are racist.

    Of course that BOSNIA IS RACIST COUNTRY. Since the fall of communism major pathetic politicians knew how to separate the country based on ethnicity, they formed nationalist parties and segregated people based on their origins. That is RACISM by definition.

    But people? People are just people. They want to live and work, they wanna have a normal life. If they cannot be responsible enough for their lives, food and cloths, how they can be in the situation to recognize who is who, which is the lamb and which is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They do have responsibility, but overall, how can illiterate people make right decisions?!

    Bosnian leadership is racist leadership. Every single name in Bosnian politics, including libertarian parties and any non-nationalist party is racist, as they do not and did not give a stand against the segregation and virtually all politicians did agree and still agree that Bosnia shall remain racist country.

    The two people, one Roma and other Jew, deserve the Nobel price for Peace.

  19. Marko Milanovic Marko Milanovic

    This comment thread has become somewhat unproductive, not to mention distracting, and is therefore now closed.

  20. [...] From this perspective, it could not have pleased nationalist Serbs in Bosnia that the text mentioned minority rights at all. The inclusion of this language may again have been indicative of a Kosovo-related subtext (given Serbian offers to recognize Albanian minority rights in exchange for retaining sovereignty – and criticism of the Kosovar Albanian majority for not protecting the local Serb minority). However, it comes at a particularly sensitive moment, with the Bosnian authorities facing the need to implement a recent European Court of Human Rights decision in which representatives of smaller minority groups not accorded constituent people status challenged the constitutional system of quotas that effectively barred them from higher office (for analysis of the decision, see the ECHR Blog here and the EJIL blog here). [...]