Urgency for a Constructive Constitutional Reform in BiH

The recent U.S. and EU led negotiation efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) regarding constitutional reform are a critical step towards EU integration and NATO membership. The Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAACBH) supports a constructive dialogue that will resolve the stagnant political situation in BiH. BAACBH strongly emphasizes the need for comprehensive constitutional reform that will enable BiH to become an efficient and effective state capable of meeting its domestic and international obligations.

A crucial aspect of constitutional reform is the fulfillment of the five objectives and two conditions stipulated by the Peace Implementation Council before the closure of the Office of High Representative. The entity-voting mechanism in parliament, which has allowed nationalistic sentiments to block the legislative process in BiH during the last 14 years, must be reformed to reflect a democratic decision-making process.

In addition, the war of aggression has displaced approximately 2 million people of whom more than half are currently living outside of BiH. The United States is home to approximately 350,000 Bosnian-Americans who resettled as the result of the war. If the negotiation efforts fail to include a reform of the Dual Citizenship Clause of the BiH Constitution, Bosnian-Americans will be forced to choose between their country of birth and their country of residence.

We agree with Senator Cardin's position in the Helsinki Commission press release that BiH leaders have to find a constructive agreement and that a constitutional reform must be part of any such progress and we welcome and encourage the continued efforts and support that the U.S. has provided to BiH since 1992.