The Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina are one of the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. The historically multinational Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a nation-state, but
rather a state of three nations – comprised of Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. As the most relevant
umbrella organization of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian National Assembly
of Bosnia and Herzegovina (further: HNS BiH) would like to draw attention to the worrying
violation of rights and the unconstitutional outvoting of Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
HNS BiH strongly rejects the statements delivered by Mr. Željko Komšić, the Chairman of
the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the the General Debate of the 74th
session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Mr. Komšić’s biased statements represent his personal views and are neither shared by the
vast majority of Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina nor were they agreed with the other two
members of the tripartite Presidency, the country’s collective head of state. According to the
Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Presidency consists of three members (Bosniak,
Croat, and Serb) who rotate in chairmanship and serve as the elected representatives of the three
constituent peoples of the country – Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. However, based on the flawed
and unconstitutional Election Law, the seat of the Croat member of the Presidency is
currently held by Mr. Komšić, who was not elected by the Croat caucus. Furthermore, Mr.
Komšić is using his illegitimate position as a platform for diminishing the constitutional
rights of the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the least numerous of the three constituent
peoples, systematically conducting a slander campaign against Croats and their lawfully and
legitimately elected representatives.
The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established by the Annex IV of the Dayton
Peace Agreement. In the constitution’s preamble, Bosnia and Herzegovina is primarily defined
as a state of three constituent peoples – Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs:
“Recalling the Basic Principles agreed in Geneva on September 8, 1995, and in New York on
September 26, 1995, Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs, as constituent peoples (along with Others),
and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina hereby determine that the Constitution of Bosnia and
Members of Presidency should be elected and legitimately represent the constituent peoples on
all political-administrative levels according to the Constitution and Constitutional Court’s
ruling U-23/14 delivered on 1 December 2016.1 The three members of the Presidency of Bosnia
and Herzegovina should have the electoral legitimacy of voters belonging to the people they
represent and whose interests they represent. In this regard, the Croat representative should
have been elected by the majority of Croats and, thus, have his legitimacy confirmed by Croats,
as one of the constituent peoples.
HNS BiH reiterates that Mr. Komšić is an illegitimate member of the Presidency of Bosnia
and Herzegovina. He became a member of the Presidency contrary to the principles of the
Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ruling U-23/14, in 2016, which clearly define
the necessity of legitimate representation at all administrative-political levels. The importance
of legitimacy is defined in the judgment by the court:
Paragraph 47: [T]he Constitutional Court recalls that according to the general principle of
democracy, the right to participate in democratic decision-making is exercised through
legitimate political representation, which has to be based on the democratic choice by those
represented and whose interests are represented. In this regard, the connection between those
who are represented and their political representatives at all administrative-political levels is
actually the one that gives the legitimacy to community representatives. Therefore, only the
legitimacy of representation creates a basis for actual participation and decision-making.
Unfortunately, as of then, in blatant disregard for the decisions of the Constitutional Court of
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Election Law has not been amended and the connection between
those who are represented and their political representatives at all administrative-political
levels has not been established. The flawed law permitted Mr. Komšić to be elected by another
constituent nation of the country, the more numerous Bosniaks, and not by the Croats of Bosnia
and Herzegovina. On 7 October 2018, he obtained more than 90% of his votes from the Bosniak
population. For instance, according to the population census, there are 50 Croats in the
municipality of Bosanska Krupa, where the main Croat parties won 44 votes, whereas Mr.
Komšić won 2,798 votes.2 On the other hand, Mr. Komšić obtained a negligible number of
votes in municipalities with a Croat majority.
In order to justify the indicated fact, Mr. Komšić has perpetually made false accusations against
the legitimate representatives of Croats and used every opportunity to deny the principle of
legitimate representation of constituent peoples. It this manner, Mr. Komšić also ignores the
Constitutional Court U-5/98-III3 ruling which proclaimed the constituent nature of the three
peoples as the “overarching principle of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina” by which
all other constitutional and legal norms must be harmonized.
HNS BiH emphasizes that complying with the Constitution of Bos
nia and Herzegovina is of
vital importance as it is a part of the Dayton Peace Agreement. In this regard, the agreed
tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina should and must be comprised of legitimate
representatives of the most relevant national groups, a principle which must be upheld and
preserved as the only guarantee for the peace, stability and prosperity of Bosnia and
Furthermore, Croat representatives are fully committed to solving the constitutional crisis that
exists because of the non-implementation of the Constitutional Court ruling U-23/14. The
amendments to the Election Law would permit Bosniak, Croats, Serbs, and Others to be fully
lawfully and legitimately represented by representatives elected by their own groups and, more
importantly, to fulfil the requirements of the abovementioned Constitutional Court’s ruling on
all political-administrative levels:
Paragraph 49: “The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina designated, as the people, the
constituent peoples who together with Others and the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina form
a community of citizens, which exercises power equally through its representatives, and the
right to participate in democratic decision-making is exercised through legitimate political
representation, which has to be based on the democratic choice by those represented and whose
interests are represented”.
Unfortunately, the position of HNS BiH is not shared by the most numerous constituent
peoples’ representatives. The reforms which would enable the reinstating of true equality of
the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and legitimate representation are
hindered, inter alia, by Mr. Komšić, since reforms of the Election Law would end the current
centralization of the political, economic and judiciary power and outvoting of other groups,
including Croats as the less numerous constituent people.
In his speech during the General Debate of the 74th session of the United Nations General
Assembly, Mr. Komšić was not in unison with the other two members of the tripartite
Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Legal and established practice obliges the Chairman,
who rotates every eight months, to consult the other two members of the Presidency and define
a common position before addressing to the United Nations General Assemblies and other
international fora. According to the Constitution, he should represent the entirety of Bosnia
and Herzegovina, as is the case in other multicultural and multinational countries.
In his statement, Mr. Komšić alleged that neighbouring countries are destabilizing Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Named statement follows a pattern of previous inflammatory statements and
antagonistic behaviour which run contrary to bilateral dialogue in good faith. Moreover, Mr.
Komšić presented his personal opinions and allegations in conversations with the SecretaryGeneral Mr. Antonio Guterres and his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Mr.
Adama Dieng. Mr. Komšić’s personal views and accusations have not only hampered internal
political dialogue within Bosnia and Herzegovina but have also seriously put in question good
neighbourly relations in Southeast Europe in general.
HNS BiH strongly condemns premeditated activities aimed at impairing and deteriorating the
stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, activities against the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
the Dayton Peace Agreement and legal order. In the meantime, we remain committed to
constructive dialogue that would enable the solution of present challenges. Within the process
of stabilizing political relations and solving existing challenges, we call upon the international
community to impartially encourage the dialogue of relevant stakeholders and political actors
within Bosnia and Herzegovina. HNS BiH strongly believes that all relevant domestic and
international actors could contribute to achieving stability by acting in compliance with the
Dayton Peace Agreement, Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and respecting the rule of
law. In this regard, similar activities undertaken by Mr. Komšić, which run contrary to the stability and cohesion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, should be rejected and proclaimed as
unacceptable in the name of long-term peace and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Dr. Božo Ljubić
President of the General Council
of the Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina