Bosnia and Herzegovina - Electoral and constitutional reforms: Political and legal analysis of the Ljubić case and related legal decisions

Briefing 07-04-2022

Stabilisation of the internal political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence on 1 March 2022 but risks internal implosion, remains a priority for the European Union. To this end, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called for ‘urgent progress in the electoral and constitutional reforms’ that are also important ahead of the general elections scheduled for 2 October 2022. This view echoed the European Parliament’s resolution on the 2019-2020 Commission reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina, adopted on 24 June 2021, that called on Bosnia’s authorities ‘to resume inclusive negotiations on electoral reforms’, and regretted the ‘reluctance to implement these rulings by eliminating all forms of inequality and discrimination in the electoral process’. In the context of the current political crisis that is threatening the constitutional settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), an analysis of the Ljubić case (2016) and associated cases, in particular the Sejdić-Finci case (2009) and the Zornić case (2014), can be of great relevance. Such analysis leads to new ways of understanding the country at a time of increased international interest in it, not least in the context of international support for its European perspective and for regional cooperation. The Ljubić case’s relationship to other legal decisions by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CC BiH) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) connects the rights of constituent peoples with universal human rights. The analysis of the political and legal context of the CC BiH and ECtHR decisions makes it clear that effective implementation of these decisions depends on resolving the internal political stalemate in BiH that currently makes any amendment of the Dayton Constitution an unattainable objective.