Back in 1998 at Harvard I wrote a paper on the Bosnian situation and the ‘deep’ contradictions of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Here is one passage from it:
… any attempt to negotiate a democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina solely with Presidents Tudjman and Milosevic and Bosnian leaders (Bosniac, Serb and Croat) representing mono-ethnic political movements was going to lead to perverse results. This problem might have been tackled via creative modern voting systems designed to reward cooperative ‘multi-ethnic’ pluralist politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was not attempted.
It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that certain provisions of the new Constitution accepted by the Balkan nationalists at Dayton introduced a new apartheid-like discrimination in Europe. Article V laid down that “The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall consist of … one Bosniac and one Croat, each directly elected from the territory of the Federation, and one Serb directly elected from the territory of the Republika Srpska”.
This bizarre provision meant that, for example, no Bosniac returning to live in Republika Srpska could run for the highest office in his/her own country, and that Jews or people of mixed ethnicity choosing to call themselves Bosnians were barred from candidacy wherever they lived. It also arguably ran counter to the European Convention on Human Rights which elsewhere was incorporated directly into the BH Constitution and given “priority over all other law”. Is the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitution unconstitutional?
A neat question.
And although it has taken rather a long time for the issue to be contested, at last it has happened:
…two representatives of Bosnian minority communities are suing the Bosnian state over a constitutional provision that reserves the three-member Bosnian presidency for Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats, that is, for Orthodox, Muslims and Catholics.
Jakob Finci, Bosnia’s ambassador to Switzerland and the leader of Sarajevo’s Jewish community, and Dervo Sejdi