Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina (via VTC)

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 5, 2020


Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, High Representative Inzko, for your continued dedication and representation of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The United States commends Bosnia and Herzegovina for reaching an important milestone: 25 years of peace following the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. This historic agreement provided an opportunity to end the ravages of war so that future generations can live in peace and security. But, as we all know, challenges still remain.

To fully realize Dayton’s promise, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders must abandon the “zero-sum” ethnic politics of the past. By improving governance, combatting corruption, and increasing accountability, today’s leaders have an opportunity to fulfill their people’s aspirations for a future that is integrated with Euro-Atlantic institutions.

We also mark a tragic milestone this year. We remember those who lost their lives 25 years ago in the Srebrenica Genocide. In July 1995, more than 8,000 men and boys were executed in Srebrenica. We stand with loved ones and friends who continue to seek justice and support efforts to honor the dignity of all of the victims, including those who still await a final resting place. This painful event must never be denied nor be forgotten, and we must all ensure that a tragedy like Srebrenica is never repeated.

Looking forward, the local elections planned for November 15 and in Mostar on December 20 will be opportunities for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders to demonstrate their commitment to free and fair elections. The Mostar elections – the first in that city since 2008 – will be an opportunity for the people to hold their leaders accountable and exercise their rights as citizens. We urge Council members to oppose any efforts by external actors to sow discord during the local elections, on the Dayton anniversary, and beyond.

We also encourage all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina to better coordinate in addressing the needs of refugees and migrants. We urge authorities to take all appropriate measures to address their needs, especially with respect to the provision of shelter. This is increasingly urgent as, as we all know, as winter approaches.

Furthermore, the United States supports the EU’s “Operation Althea” – a military deployment responsible for overseeing the military implementation of the Dayton Accords. We commend the work of EUFOR Operation Althea and its role in preserving a safe and secure environment.

In this regard, we also thank the United Kingdom for its enduring contributions to security in the Western Balkans, including 16 years of deployed service as part of Operation Althea. The first EUFOR Commander was British Major General David Leakey in 2004, and he set a high bar in excellence leading the force that carries through to today. We appreciate the United Kingdom’s continued role in the region through NATO.

The Trump Administration is committed to assisting the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their pursuit for peace, and the pursuit for a more free, just, and democratic society. We also believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina must continue to stay the course towards European integration and trans-Atlantic cooperation. Toward this end, we look forward to fully meeting previously agreed upon objectives and conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative. In meeting these objectives, the security, stability, and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be greatly enhanced.

As we mark the milestone of 25 years of Dayton, we call on all friends of Bosnia and Herzegovina to lend their support as the country looks ahead to the next 25 years and beyond. The United States envisions a modern, multi-ethnic, stable, and prosperous democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina; one that is responsible for its own destiny. For Bosnia and Herzegovina to succeed, the next generation must be able to obtain the opportunities they seek within a diverse, united, and integrated republic in the heart of Europe.

Thank you, Madam President.