Security Council Turns Down Resolution That Would End Powers of Bosnia and Herzegovina High Representative
The Security Council today rejected a draft resolution that would end the powers and close the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, effective 31 July 2022, as progress had been achieved.
By a recorded vote of 2 in favour (China, Russian Federation) to none against, with 13 abstentions, the Council rejected the draft, which would have had the 15-member organ welcome and agree to the designation by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council on 27 May of Christian Schmidt as High Representative in succession to Valentin Inzko on the understanding that he will operate on the basis of Annex 10 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and request of the Bosnian parties.
The Council would have also decided that the powers of the High Representative described in the conclusion of the Peace Implementation Conference, held in Bonn in 1997, are no longer required given the progress achieved by the Bosnian parties. It would have also had the Council support the appointment of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as stipulated in the Annex 10 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, until 31 July 2022, with the subsequent closure of the Office of the High Representative.
Dmitry A. Polyanskiy (Russian Federation), explaining his delegation’s position before the vote, said the goal of strengthening peace, stability and economic development is only possible by complying with the fundamental principles of the Dayton Agreement. Since the adoption of the accord, there has been a web of power unfolding into what has become a unilateral leadership. Now, the country has more than once demonstrated its sustainability, including as a member of the Security Council, and no longer requires the tutelage of the High Representative, who continues to maintain his role and influence. This explains the lack of consensus among the Bosnia and Herzegovina contingents, the consequence of which is dangerous, as this scenario could be compounded by going around the Security Council in appointing the High Representative. The Council continues to be involved in the peace process. As such, China and the Russian Federation tabled this draft resolution to do away with gaps and problems by, among other things, limiting these types of post-colonial powers, he said, urging Council members to support it.
Geng Shuang (China) said the High Representative must follow just and reasonable guidelines. As such, the appointment must have support from the international community, including the Security Council. Subverting that support is not acceptable. Maintaining the authority of the Council in this matter is among the reasons China and the Russian Federation tabled this draft, he said, encouraging members to vote in favour of it.
Following the voting, Mr. Polyanskiy (Russian Federation) expressed regret that the Council failed to adopt the resolution. This means that the candidature of Christian Schmidt was not approved by the Council and that following the resignation of Valentin Inzko, this position remains vacant. He called on Western members of the Council to return to the normal practice of the Steering Board, warning them against taking further destructive measures, which would destroy progress made over the past 25 years.
Mr. Geng (China) expressed regret that the proper extension of the Office’s mandate failed to gain the Council’s endorsement. Therefore, the appointment of Mr. Schmidt has no legitimacy. China respects the sovereignty, independence and territory integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has the ability to solve the problem.
Bryan Patrick Flynn (Ireland) expressed full support for the Office, stressing that its role remains vital to the work of building a stable and prosperous future for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her delegation abstained on the draft because it would constrain the powers of the High Representative and impose a timeframe for the closure of the Office, which her delegation cannot accept.
Richard M. Mills, Jr. (United States) said his delegation cannot support the draft as it undermines the Dayton Agreement. The appointment of Mr. Schmidt was agreed by all but the Russian Federation in the Steering Board, which does not require unanimity for such a decision. Mr. Schmidt will assume the position on 1 August. The Security Council’s endorsement has never been required. Closing the Office is a long-term objective, but the conditions for that — set out under the “5+2” agenda of 2008, which were agreed on by parties, including the Russian Federation — have not been achieved. It is in the interest of the Council to maintain open channels with the Office and have the High Representative brief the 15-member organ.
Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) said the draft did not meet the expectations of Council members and would not resolve any problem. The fact that 13 members decided to abstain shows that the initiative was not carried out in a constructive manner. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a Euro-Atlantic path.
Meena Asiya Syed (Norway) expressed full support for the Office of the High Representative and Mr. Schmidt’s appointment. She called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to work towards conditions set ahead of closing the Office of the High Representative.
Sonia Farrey (United Kingdom) said her delegation cannot accept a draft that expects a premature closure of the Office of the High Representative. This approach counters the “5+2” agenda conditions that must be met and is inconsistent with the Security Council’s endorsement of these measures. The Office remains vital in overseeing the implementation of the Dayton Agreement. However, the draft failed not because of a lack of support for the Office, but because of the Council’s support for the role of the Office.
Dang Dinh Quy (Viet Nam) said dialogue and confidence-building measures must be implemented in accordance with international law. Implementing the Dayton Agreement must continue to work towards peacefully resolving differences between parties. Council members should try to avoid divergent views, he said, expressing hope that they will find a common ground and achieve consensus.
The representatives of Mexico and France also delivered statements.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 3:32 p.m.