Project will directly contribute to addressing the European Commission’s Opinion on ensuring an enabling environment for civil society. In addition, the project will support the achievement of the set-out objectives in the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 2018-2023 foreign policy strategy which include: full membership in the EU, activation of the NATO Membership Action Plan, fight against terrorism, cooperation at regional level, and bilateral and multilateral cooperation. During the project period, the country will adopt the Strategy for development of civil society and follow-up Strategy and a framework action plan for the prevention of and fight against terrorism that the project will directly contribute to. Last strategy for the fight against corruption for Bosnia and Herzegovina is the one with timeframe 2015 – 2019 and new one needs to be created. In addition, the project will comply to the 2018-2022 Gender action plan, as well as an action plan on women, peace, and security.
According to the latest census, 3.351.159 inhabitants are living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, out of which 2.219.220 are living in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (around 62,85%), 1.228.423 are living in the Republic of Srpska (around 34,79%) and in District Brcko, 83.516 inhabitants (2,37%).
Ongoing political and security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is complicated and filled with challenges, backed up with the separation-oriented rhetoric from political representatives where consequences of such non-participation in the State-level decision-making processes are serious. This issue leads to the political crisis, caused by the anti-Dayton behavior of mentioned politicians that is causing fear among citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as division and separation of this country. Another ongoing security issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina are corruption and organized crime. Especially during the pandemic caused by the SARS CoV virus, negative sides of corruption were widely spread across the country which resulted in degradation of citizens’ wellbeing. Additionally, there is still presence of non-transparent prosecution of a corruption case which raises additional security questions. According to the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Bosnia and Herzegovina is ranked as a third worst in Europe with a score of 35, where scale was from 0 to 100, which means that Bosnia and Herzegovina was 110th out of 180 countries, in terms of corruption. In the region of Western Balkans, according to the CPI, BiH and Albania are the worst rated countries while Kosovo and Northern Macedonia have made some progress. Authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina are still unable to establish unique and sustainable migration and asylum system, as it could be seen in December 2020 crisis. Even though some improvements of migration management are visible, there is still an enormous lack of effective coordination on all levels which could be achieved through fair distribution of responsibilities between government levels. Furthermore, it is important to mention the ongoing issue related to the Electoral Law BiH where BiH authorities are still unable to implement all decisions from the European Court of Human Rights which leads to direct electoral discrimination and unequal opportunities for political participation.
Actions by the BH entity Republika Srpska to unilaterally establish a parallel institution in BiH are slowing down process of the BiH’s integration towards the EU, meaning that those moves harm state’s prospects of advancing to this integration path. In the reports for 2020 and 2021, the European Commission noted that there are still missing concrete actions of political commitment of the state authorities on all levels of government regarding strategic goals of the European integration. The biggest brake in this process is based upon the fact that there is divisive rhetoric and actions in the most recent political crisis, triggered by the above-mentioned actions from the RS leadership. However, some certain steps have been made for achievement of 14 key priorities such as revised National War Crimes Strategy (adopted in September 2020) as well as Mostar local elections, also held in 2020, for the first time since 2008 which is part of the first key priority. Nonetheless, Bosnia and Herzegovina are still at an early stage, i.e. it achieved some level of preparation within obligations of the EU membership, but it still requires additional progress and general pace of reforms to create a sustainable progress on the Euro Atlantic path. Speaking of 14 key priorities, it is important to mention that they are divided into groups: Democracy/Functionality, Rule of Law, Fundamental Rights and Public Administration Reform. Priorities include elections that have to be conducted in line with European standards, adoption for the EU acquis, functioning of the Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee, improvement of the institutional framework, improvement of the functioning of the judiciary, strengthening the prevention and fight against corruption and organized crime, ensuring effective coordination regarding migrations, protection of the rights of all citizens including right to life and prohibition of torture, enabling environment for civil society, guarantee freedom of expression and of the media, protection and inclusion of vulnerable groups as well as to complete essential steps in public administration reform. For this project, the most important are the following priorities: 7. Strengthen the prevention and fight against corruption and organized crime, including money laundering and terrorism; 9. Strengthen the protection of the rights of all citizens, notably by ensuring the implementation of the legislation on non-discrimination and on gender equality; 11. Ensure an enabling environment for civil society, notably by upholding European standards of freedom of association and freedom of assembly.
Civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as perceived by international community as well, is a crucial component for BiH and its democratic system, due to which it must be recognized and treated as of high importance by public and state institutions. Civil society in BiH is a key partner for reform improvements since there are 27 432 registered associations and foundations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As for CS in BiH, the European union’s opinion is that it has all characteristics of CS in a transition country, with majority of sports associations and associations whose main objective is to represent the interest of specific societal groups. Councils of ministers BiH signed an Agreement on Cooperation between CoM and civil society organizations in BiH, on 30.11.2017. Aim of this Agreement is to develop fair, open, plural, and democratic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina, besides commitment for cooperation regarding fulfilling conditions for membership in the European Union. Within mentioned Agreement, an Advisory Body of the CoM BiH has been established as one of the most key features
Audit Office of the Institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted a revision in 2019 regarding capabilities of BiH institutions to answer on the obligations within Sustainable development program until 2030. They revised work of Council of Ministers BiH, BiH Directorate for economic planning, ministries on the level of BiH institutions as activities by Agency for statistics BiH where they came to conclusions that a) Bosnia and Herzegovina did not ensure basic assumptions for implementation of obligations from Sustainable development program until 2030; b) creation of strategic and institutional framework, as one of main assumptions for implementation of SDG is yet to come and c) system of regular reporting and follow up of CDG implementation is not established yet. Due to the mentioned, Audit Office suggested Council of Ministers to adopt strategic framework for implementation of the SDG; to conduct detailed overview of all planned documents of CoE BiH with aim of incorporating SDG in it; to establish functional institutional framework for conduction of SDG as well as to establish a system for reporting and monitoring of the SDG realization progress. It was advised by the Audit Office BiH to the Parliamentary Assembly BiH to ensure needed support for achieving SDG while Agency for statistics BiH was advised to identify real needs coming from Agenda 2030 obligations. Additionally, Direction for economic planning BiH was advised to improve promotion of SDG through more active cooperation with the process participants.
- Program of reforms Bosnia and Herzegovina 2021, Commission for cooperation with NATO, Council of Ministers BiH
- Gender Action Plan of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2018 – 2022
- Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The Foreign Policy Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2018 – 2023
- Bosnia and Herzegovina National Action Plan (NAP) for the period 2018 – 2022
- Sustainable Development Goals Framework in BiH
- BIH Strategy For Prevention and Fight Against Terrorism by 2026 Adopted
Relevant institutions for reporting on above mentioned issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Office of the High Representative, Delegation of the European Union to BiH and European Union Special Representative in BiH, Transparency International, United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Council of Ministers Bosnia and Herzegovina – Directorate for economic planning; Council of Ministers Bosnia and Herzegovina – Advisory Body for cooperation with the NGOs, Audit Office of the Institutions of BiH, Ministry of Foreign Affairs BiH, Ministry of Defense BiH, Ministry of Security BiH as well as relevant entity ministries.