Security Council Debate: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Statement by Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 6 November 2018

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

And thank you Mr. Valentino Inzko for presenting your 20th report as High Representative; a sobering milestone. We highly value your dedicated personal efforts and persistence in carrying out your mandate for the greater good of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, later this morning.

Mr. President, I will focus on the following three issues:

  • The rule of law;
  • The Office of the High Representative; and
  • Stability.

1. Rule of law

My first point: the rule of law. During the previous debate in this Council in May of this year, we expressed concerns about the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have seen some responsible steps since then, like the passing of amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, but serious concerns remain.

Erosion of the rule of law is a risk to any democracy. But in combination with divisive and revisionist rhetoric, like we continue to see in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it becomes a toxic mix.

We therefore call on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen the rule of law in their country. And to do so convincingly and at all levels. Let me reiterate, divisive and revisionist rhetoric by the political leaders is not conducive to reconciliation and cooperation, nor to the political need to make compromises. And we underline the points on accountability in this context as just made by our American colleague.

We also call on the authorities to amend the election law. And state institutions must continue to function properly.

2. Office of the High Representative

Mr. President, this brings me to my second point: the High Representative and his Office. With the rule of law under pressure and rhetoric thriving, upholding the civilian aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace becomes even more crucial. The engagement of the Office of the High Representative becomes even more pertinent. The circumstances for closure of the Office are not yet there.

As was pointed out by Mr. Inzko, Bosnia and Herzegovina has made limited progress in completing the 5+2 agenda. The Kingdom of the Netherlands remains steadfast in its support for the High Representative and his Office. 23 years after it establishment, the work is far from done. Unfortunately, I want to ad.

3. Stability

Then, Mr. President, on my third and final point: stability. Stability is a precondition for strengthening the rule of law. A precondition for upholding the civilian aspects of the Framework Agreement. EU operation Althea is key in supporting the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in maintaining a safe and secure environment for its citizens. In maintaining stability in the region. We therefore welcome the unanimous adoption of today’s resolution renewing the mandate of EU operation Althea.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Mr. President, in his first report to the Security Council, the first High Representative, Carl Bildt, wrote that “lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires a genuine commitment to the building of a future in common.” This observation still holds truth today.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands continues to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Euro-Atlantic integration for ensuring the future prosperity and security of its people and the region. This future depends on the political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On their will to reconcile. On their will to cooperate. On their will to conclude highly needed political compromises. In short, on their will to truly lead. The time to do so, is now.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Belongs to