Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 6, 2018


Thank you Mr. President, and thank you, High Representative Inzko, for your work in Bosnia and Herzegovina for these past nine years and for your dedicated leadership of the Office of the High Representative.

Your office’s mission reflects the very ideals that the UN Security Council envisions in a modern Bosnia and Herzegovina: a peaceful and viable democracy that’s on course for Euro-Atlantic integration and responsible for its own destiny and its own future.

The United States repeats our strong support for the High Representative’s mandate under the Dayton Accords as the final authority on the interpretation of the civilian implementation of the Peace Agreement. High Representative Inzko, we consider your role essential, especially in the aftermath of the October general elections and as the country continues to contend with the divisive, nationalistic rhetoric that threatens to undermine gains made under the agreement.

We also commend the continued work of EUFOR Operation Althea and its role in preserving a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United States is pleased to support the renewal of the EUFOR mandate.

We’re concerned about those who seek to weaken the constitutional order of a single state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, composed of two entities and three constituent peoples. And we call on the members of this Council to remain vigilant against any efforts to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state-level institutions. We renew our collective commitment to upholding the Dayton Peace Accords by maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

Mr. President, the United States will hold accountable those who threaten Bosnia and Herzegovina’s peace, security, and stability. Accountability is essential to discourage spoilers to the country’s political process.

Let me reiterate a position that we’ve repeatedly made clear in this chamber: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders must demonstrate the political will to follow through on the necessary commitments to cement their country’s path into the EU and NATO. Euro-Atlantic integration is the only path for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future as a responsible global player.

These steps must be made in concert with efforts to strengthen the rule of law, tackle corruption, increase economic opportunity, and otherwise respond to the needs of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina – regardless of ethnicity or religion.

There’s much to be optimistic about. Mr. President, we see Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future in the 23-year old poet who organized a nationwide poetry contest to fight hate speech. We see the country’s future in the work of the Inter-Religious Council, which just celebrated its twenty-year anniversary, and dedicates its time to promoting inter-faith dialogue and visiting sites of attacks on religious institutions, including four visits in the past year.

We also see the country’s future in the ethnically diverse students from Jajce who protested further segregation of schools after local authorities sought to build a school just for Bosnian-Muslim class members.

Mr. President, the United States looks forward to a time when Bosnia and Herzegovina fully satisfy the objectives and conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative – also known as the “five plus two conditions” – as established by the Peace Implementation Council.

I thank you.