Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 3, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And let me join others in welcoming you to your new role as President of the Council, and also, before starting, thank Kenya for their extraordinary effort during the previous month.
We are so pleased the Security Council once again reauthorized EUFOR ALTHEA and sent a clear message of support for the vitally important mission of maintaining peace and security. We are also grateful for High Representative Christian Schmidt’s recent report, which the Secretary-General has shared with the Security Council. The High Representative’s report, in line with precedent and the requirements of Security Council Resolution 1031, are crucial for keeping the international community informed about the ongoing efforts to ensure enduring stability and prosperity in the region. Although the High Representative is not here with us today, we appreciate his hard work, and look forward to welcoming him to brief the Council on developments in the future.
Right now, Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing a critical juncture in its post-war history. Today, I would like to address three aspects of this situation: The dangerous rhetoric we’ve been hearing, the need to protect and fund the Office of the High Representative, and how electoral reform and combating corruption are necessary for progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
First, the heated rhetoric must stop. Milorad Dodik has called for the Republika Srpska’s withdrawal from the Armed Forces and from state-level institutions, in the judiciary, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies. And with increasing frequency, Dodik is talking about the Republika Srpska’s possible withdrawal from Bosnia and Herzegovina entirely. The United States agrees with the High Representative’s assessment: This is a dangerous path, both for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also for the wider Western Balkan region. We are especially concerned by Dodik’s claim that he is leading an effort to draft a new constitution for the Republika Srpska. This would pose a serious threat to the Dayton architecture, an architecture which has successfully preserved peace so far.
As we have maintained since the signing of the Dayton Accords in 1995, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina is paramount. Unfortunately, the past few months, all sides have made heated claims. We call for calm and de-escalation, by all parties. It is time for elected officials, at all levels of government, to get back to governing and serving the citizens of the country. That means the Presidency must meet on a regular basis. State-level institutions must be fully operational and have the full participation of the constituent peoples. And, after three years, the Federation government must finally and fully form.
Second, we must protect the role of the High Representative. That office serves as a foundation of stability for the country. High Representative Schmidt has our utmost support as the final authority charged with implementing the civilian aspects of the Dayton Accords. That will remain the case until the 5+2 Agenda is met. Only then can the Office of the High Representative close. And only then can Bosnia and Herzegovina graduate from international supervision.
We also urge all non-payers to contribute to the Office’s budget. As the High Representative mentioned in his report, operating expenses for his office declined about seven percent per year, entirely because of nonpayment. This imperils the Office’s function in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it threatens peace, and it undermines progress. Members of the Peace Implementation Council must fund the Office of the High Representative so that it can do its job.
Third and finally, the country needs electoral and limited constitutional reform and to combat corruption for it to move forward on its EU path. Authorities must heed and implement the recommendations made by the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Group of States Against Corruption to strengthen election integrity for the equal benefit of all citizens. Now is the moment to pass legislation and improve election integrity leading up to the 2022 elections. And both governments need to weed out corruption in all of its forms. Corruption is unlawful. It is antidemocratic. And it is the spark that sets off instability. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve better from their government. Corrupt officials must be held accountable.
This is a delicate moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let us ensure, for the country’s people, that all parties involved choose the path of peace, progress, and prosperity.
Thank you, Mr. President.