Today, representatives of the first country-wide Citizens’ Assembly in Bosnia and Herzegovina presented 17 recommendations to the BiH Parliamentary Assembly on how to remove discriminatory provisions in the BiH Constitution and Electoral Law and strengthen the integrity of the electoral system. The presentation of the recommendations was also attended by EEAS Managing Director Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH/EU Special Representative Johann Sattler, US Ambassador to BiH Michael Murphy and Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina Kathleen Kavalec.
The Citizens Assembly is an innovative deliberative democracy tool, where a demographically representative group of randomly selected citizens meets to discuss often contentious topics. Such assemblies have proven to be successful in encouraging debate on and resolving complex issues in countries such as Belgium, Ireland and Switzerland. The BiH Citizens Assembly was organised by the Office of the EU Special Representative in BiH, with the support of the US Embassy in BiH and the OSCE Mission to BiH.
The 57 members of the BiH Citizens’ Assembly met over two weekends in February 2022 to discuss constitutional and electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over four days of discussion, during which a number of varying views were aired, including by independent experts and representatives of political parties, the Citizens Assembly unanimously or by at least two-third majority adopted a set of recommendations.
These recommendations have been collected in a report. They include:
- Elimination of discrimination from the BiH Constitution and Election Law, to allow everyone to elect and be elected to all positions at all levels of authority, as well as measures to empower women’s participation.
- In relation to the BiH Presidency, the indirect election of 4 Presidency members from amongst BiH House of Representatives MPs is recommended, with rotation so that each shall act as a President for one year. The Presidency is recommended to have a protocol role only, and its competences should be transferred to the Council of Ministers.
- Abolition of the BiH House of Peoples, the RS Council of Peoples and the Federation House of Peoples. Vital National Interest mechanism should be transferred to the BiH House of Representatives, RS National Assembly and the Federation House of Representatives respectively.
- A set of measures to eliminate election fraud and strengthen the integrity of the electoral process.
The ability of members of the Citizens’ Assembly to agree within four days to resolve difficult topics, despite the views they may have held previously, demonstrates that discussion and negotiation can lead to positive solutions. The EU urges political leaders to take inspiration from the process and its recommendations as the last round of negotiations on constitutional and electoral reform begins.
The report and further information about the Citizens’ Assembly can be found at https://www.skupstinagradjana.ba/ & https://www.skupstinagradjana.ba/images/Recommendations_for_citizens_report_v6_1.pdf