Explanation of vote by Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the Russian Federation Dmitry Polyanskiy before the UNSC vote on a draft resolution (put forward by Russia and China) on the mandate of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
As a responsible member of the global community and a permanent member of the Security Council, the Russian Federation approaches its obligations with regard to post-conflict recovery and ensuring interethnic concord in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the utmost seriousness.
Our country is a guarantor of the Dayton Agreement and member of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC). We are convinced that the goals to sustain peace, stability, security and social development of Bosnia and Herzegovina can only be achieved once the fundamental Dayton principles are observed, those principles being independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity of BaH, equality of its three constituent peoples and two entities with broad constitutional authorities.
More than 25 years have passed since the Dayton Agreement was signed. Over those years, the High Representative, who was initially meant to play a stabilizing role in the country, has become overgrown with a vast “web” of powers, the “Bonn Powers” in the first place. As a matter of fact, he received an opportunity to reign single-handedly and “administer justice” with impunity. In the post-war period, such reinforcement of HR mandate could be explained by the need to reconcile the opposing sides. However the situation on the ground has fundamentally changed by now. Bosnia and Herzegovina on many occasions proved itself to be a valid state, i.a. by acting as a non-permanent Security Council member and President of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers. It no longer needs this sort of humiliating tutelage.
Nevertheless, the High Representative is still clinging to the role of a caretaker, which is inadequate from whatever perspective, and continues to influence the peace process – now in a destabilizing way. To a large extent, it explains why the Bosnian sides have no consensus regarding willful “enthronement” of a German candidate, Mr.Christian Schmidt, by some members of the PIC Steering Board. This act may trigger highly unpredictable and grave consequences. Best practices that have been developed over the entire post-conflict period risk being undermined.
This highly undesirable (for all of us) scenario might be further aggravated by attempts to circumvent the Security Council when appointing a new High Representative. We are convinced that positions of separate ambassadors of member states of the PIC Steering Board, articulated on 27 May 2021, do not suffice to consider Mr.Schmidt the new High Representative for BaH. The Dayton Agreement and the quarter-of-a-century-long practice prove that the role of the Security Council in endorsing appointment of every new High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina has no alternative. The Council remains involved in the process of domestic settlement in BaH under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
Similar assessments are coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina itself. Being guided by this and acting in the interests of promoting peace and stability in BaH and in the Balkans at large, Russia and the People’s Republic of China jointly put forward this draft resolution, designed to correct the mentioned legal irregularities. As a good will gesture and a compromise, it envisages a final extension of the HR mandate for one year and a limitation of HR’s unfounded powers, which are colonial by their nature.
We count on our UNSC colleagues to act wisely and support this draft resolution, thus avoiding the most negative scenario of how the situation around the post of the High Representatives may develop.