• English

Security Council hears of progress in Bosnia despite ‘worrying’ trend of genocide denial

Miroslav Jenča, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas with the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, provided an update of recent developments since his office’s last Council briefing in July.

The country continues to grapple with issues stemming from the brutal war that killed 100,000 people across the former-Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, including the Srebrenica genocide in which 8,000 men and boys died.

The war ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 and the establishment of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia as separate UN Member States.

“There is consensus among the political leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina that European integration is the best route for ensuring the country’s future stability and prosperity,” he said.

‘Unique chance’ to bridge divides

Mr. Jenča noted the decision of the European Council in March this year to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the European Commission’s assessment of progress made by the country on key legislative and judiciary reforms.

The European project has become a unique chance for the continent to bridge divides and shape a stable and prosperous future despite ongoing challenges,” the Assistant Secretary-General explained.

He said that based on a united commitment towards a stable and peaceful future, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers in late 2022 had sought the UN’s support through its Peacebuilding Fund to contribute to strengthening social cohesion, respect for diversity, understanding and trust, especially among young men and women in different communities.

Initiatives supported by the Peacebuilding Fund have started to be implemented, Mr. Jenča said, noting that ongoing efforts are operating in close cooperation with authorities at all levels and communities across the country.

“These projects are focused on the implementation of the women, peace and security and the youth, peace and security agendas as well as community dialogue,” he said.

Hate speech, genocide denial

At the same time, in recent months, actions and statements have emerged that contradict these positive developments, he said, pointing to concerns raised by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

He said the Special Advisor, who has undertaken official visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region over the past years, has noted concerns about repeated threats of secessionism, the promotion of hate speech, the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals that were convicted by local and international courts.

In addition, he said, the Special Adviser recently issued statements on the dangers of these trends and their long-lasting impact on peace and reconciliation in the country and had stressed the importance of addressing the legacy of the past, including of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In 1995, a government soldier reads out the names of confirmed survivors or escapees from the fallen city of Srebrenica. (file)
© UNICEF

In 1995, a government soldier reads out the names of confirmed survivors or escapees from the fallen city of Srebrenica. (file)

Lasting peace is rooted in understanding the past

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have established that acts of genocide against the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina were committed in and around Srebrenica in July 1995, he said.

Only by promoting the understanding of the past through truthseeking and accountability and addressing the root causes and the continued impact of such violence on society, can sustainable peace be achieved,” he said.

Noting that the Secretary-General has consistently called on everyone in the region and beyond to counter hate speech and the rhetoric of division and narratives of mistrust and fear, he reiterated the UN chief’s message that all communities, all leaders and all organisations, including the media, must make this pledge.

The city of Zenica, in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. (file)
UNDP/Sulejman Omerbasic

The city of Zenica, in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. (file)

‘Remarkable’ efforts to promote reconciliation

“Many people in Bosnia and Herzegovina have for decades undertaken remarkable work to promote trust and reconciliation in the country,” he said.

However, he added, it is primarily the responsibility of authorities and institutions, at all levels, to help the whole of society constructively deal with the past, to demonstrate respect for all victims and survivors, and to work towards a prosperous and peaceful future for all of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s citizens.

Recalling that the UN is not a signatory to the Dayton Peace Agreement nor a member of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, he said the Organization remains “committed to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in its path towards reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustainable development”.

Also briefing the Council were Željka Cvijanović, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Christian Schmidt, the UN High Representative for the country, whose office was established to oversee the implementation of civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the war.

For a full summary of this and other meetings of major UN bodies, visit UN Meetings Coverage in English and French.

Get help now

Send a message with a description of your problem and possible ways of assistance and we will contact you as soon as we consider your problem.

    [recaptcha class:captcha]