Explanation of Vote on a UN Security Council Resolution for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 22, 2021


Thank you, Nathalie. Thank you, Madam President.

The United States welcomes the Peace Implementation Committee Steering Board’s appointment of Christian Schmidt. However, the United States, along with our partners on this Council, will not support a text that undermines the Dayton Peace Agreement and decisions made by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board, and therefore we abstained on this draft resolution.

Christian Schmidt was appointed by the Steering Board on May 27 as the new High Representative. All Steering Board Members except Russia agreed to Mr. Schmidt’s appointment. Steering Board decisions do not require unanimity. On June 3, High Representative Inzko informed the Secretary-General Guterres of this appointment, and a letter was sent to the President of the Security Council. Mr. Schmidt will assume his position on August 1.

There is no determinative role for the Secretary-General or the UN Security Council in the appointment process, and no requirement that the Council take action to confirm Mr. Schmidt’s designation. Security Council and support from the Security Council has never been required to designate a High Representative.

The international community concurs on the long-term objective to close the Office of the High Representative. The conditions for closing the Office were clearly laid out in 2008 in the 5+2 Agenda with support of the whole Peace Implementation Council Steering Board, including Russia. These conditions have not yet been achieved. As expressed by many Security Council members, once again, in the meeting on May 4 in support of the 5+2 Agenda, urgent reforms for a stable Bosnia and Herzegovina are still needed and nationalistic rhetoric continues to divide the country, prohibiting real progress on reforms.

In contradiction to the 5+2 agenda that it had previously supported, Russia has for years expressed – including in the Council – that the Office should be closed without delay. Although this draft resolution welcomed Mr. Schmidt’s appointment, it also included language calling for the closure of the Office of the High Representative without the 5+2 conditions being achieved. This went against almost over a decade of international agreement and would have been an unprecedented decision of the Security Council.

The objective and critical role of the High Representative in this process is essential to ongoing efforts for peace and security and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and remains so until the conditions of the 5+2 Agenda are met. These conditions have been endorsed by the Security Council numerous times, most recently in November 2020. For these reasons, Mr. Schmidt’s appointment merits the support of the international community.

In conclusion, Madam President, it is in the interest of the Security Council to maintain an open channel with the Office of the High Representative, including through the regular submission of reports and opportunities for the High Representative to brief the Security Council. For all these reasons, the United States abstained on today’s resolution.

Thank you, Madam President.