Implementation of the Dayton Agreements for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Reply to Recommendation 1297 (1996)

and 

Civilian aspects of the Dayton and Erdut Agreements

Recommendation 1301 (1996)

 

Doc. 7643

18 September 1996

 

REPLIES

adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 11 September 1996 at the 573rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies


            The Committee of Ministers has studied with interest, and decided to bring to the attention of their Governments Recommendations 1297 and 1301 (1996) of the Parliamentary Assembly on Implementation of the Dayton Agreements for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the Civilian Aspects of the Dayton and Erdut Agreements during debates to which representatives of several Organisations involved in the implementation contributed.

            The Committee of Ministers recalls in this context the substantial interim reply, adopted at the 566th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies (May 1996) to the Assembly's earlier Recommendation 1287 (1996) on "Refugees, displaced persons and reconstruction in certain countries of the former Yugoslavia".

            Where the essential field of co-operation with the OSCE is concerned - whose Chairman-in-Office, Minister Flavio Cotti, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, has also addressed the Assembly - it is recalled that the Ministers, at the 98th Session of the Committee of Ministers (3 May 1996), "against the background of a difficult and complicated situation ... welcomed the close co-operation and effective division of tasks between the two Organisations, as well as expressing the readiness of the Council of Europe, alongside other international Organisations, and particularly the OSCE, to play its part in contributing to creating in Bosnia and Herzegovina the conditions for free and fair elections", due to take place on 14 September 1996. 

            It is also recalled where wider co-operation between all the Organisations and agencies involved is concerned, that the Secretary General participated in the mid-term Ministerial Conference of the Peace Implementation Council to review civilian implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, held in Florence on 13 and 14 June 1996.

            The Committee notes that Recommendations 1297 and 1301 largely concentrate, as was the case of Recommendation 1287, on the Council of Europe's contribution in the fields of:

(i)         the Council of Europe Secretariat's presence in Sarajevo;

(ii)        the human rights institutions, and their financing;

(iii)       human rights monitoring, particularly in the context of the forthcoming elections;

(iv)       legal and constitutional assistance;

(v)        the situation of refugees;

(vi)       the protection of national minorities (including support for the UN Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), following the Erdut Agreement);

(vii)      co-operation at local democracy level (including confidence-building measures);

(viii)      the role of the Social Development Fund;

(ix)       relations with the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague, and

(x)        possible future relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

            Where (i) is concerned, in addition to the assistance, mentioned in the earlier interim reply, to the Ombudsperson, Ambassador Haller, a member of the Secretariat has been detached to Sarajevo since April 1996, for a period of six months, later prolonged until the end of the current year.  With the help of a local assistant since the end of May, the Council's representative has facilitated and assured links and direct contacts with the Human Rights Task Force, the Human Rights Co-ordination Centre, the Human Rights Commission, international organisations, government authorities, non-governmental and professional organisations, institutions and individuals.  She has provided advice, information, documentation, forwarded and translated correspondence, ordered translations of Council of Europe documents, suggested names of experts to be invited to meetings in Strasbourg, etc.  She has provided administrative and logistical support to visiting delegations and the implementation of co-operation projects.

            Concerning (ii) - Human rights - developments, subsequent to the information contained in the reply to Recommendation 1287, are that Sessions of the Human Rights Chamber took place 17-21 June, 8-12 July and 12-16 August in Sarajevo.  The next meeting will take place on 9-13 September 1996.  The Chamber has appointed a Registrar.

            Of particular relevance in the human rights (including media) field, are the following activities:

*          Translation into the country's official languages of the European Convention on Human Rights - which is directly applicable in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Peace Agreement, and of the Convention for the Prevention of Torture;

*          Provision of the human rights documentation to the governments (Ministries of Justice in particular) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federation and the Republika Srpska, as well as the University of Sarajevo;

*          Holding of a Seminar (mid July) on the European Convention on Human Rights and its implementation in co-operation with the lawyers' associations;

*          Study visit to Strasbourg (European Commission and Court of Human Rights) of members of the Human Rights Chamber and of the Constitutional Court of the Federation (autumn 1996);

*          Three media seminars have been organised by the Co-ordination Centre for Independent Media (Ljubljana) and the Soros Media Centre (Sarajevo) with funding from the Council of Europe's "Package of Measures for Independent Media on the territory of the former Yugoslavia".  The first seminar (17 to 18 May) was attended by editors of print media as well as representatives from electronic media from both the Federation and the Republika Srpska.  The second (24‑25 May) was aimed at journalists of electronic and print media and was followed by a third (1 June) which dealt with the transformation of state media into genuine public service broadcasters;

*          Establishment by the Human Rights Ombudsperson for Bosnia and Herzegovina of the project Transfer of Know-How to Bosnia and Herzegovina (TRAK), financed up to the present by voluntary contributions from Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and Norway.

            Where financing of civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement, and the human rights institutions in particular, are concerned, it is recalled that the Ministers, at the 98th Session (3 May 1996), noted "with satisfaction that several member States had responded generously to the joint appeal to governments for voluntary contributions, addressed on 30 January 1996, co-signed by the Chairman, by the Chairman-in-Office of OSCE and by High Representative Carl Bildt, for implementation of the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement".  Stressing the essential nature of these efforts they appealed for further generous contributions.

            A table presenting the situation regarding voluntary contributions (as at 27 August 1996) is appended.

            Where (iii) - Human Rights monitoring - is concerned, Council of Europe officials from the Directorate of Human Rights and the Secretariat of the Commission for the Prevention of Torture have participated, alongside the representatives of other Organisations (OSCE and UN including UNHCR, and the International Red Cross), in the introductory courses for monitors to brief the latter on Council of Europe standards and give them appropriate guidelines.  The Council of Europe has provided the OSCE monitors with a set of human rights documents.

            Concerning (iv) - Constitutional and Legal issues - the President of the Human Rights Court has appealed for candidatures in view of the fact that Dayton provides that he should nominate three judges (out of nine) of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be constituted after the elections.

            Also in the constitutional field, the Commission for Democracy through Law ("Venice Commission") has begun work, in co-operation with the High Representative, on:

*          the compatibility of the Constitutions of the two Entities with the Constitution provided for in the Dayton Agreement (meeting held on 27 June 1996 in Paris) and

*          the various human rights protection mechanisms established (Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Dayton Agreement (meetings held on 21 and 22 June 1996 in Paris and on 27 and 28 August in Sarajevo).

            The report of the two working groups and their follow-up will be examined by the Commission at its next plenary meeting (13‑14 September 1996).  The Commission will, in particular, adopt its opinion on the compatibility of the Constitutions of the two Entities, including precise recommendations for their amendment.

            In the legal field, two meetings of regional experts (including from Belgrade) on the citizenship legislation were held in Strasbourg from 25 to 29 March 1996 and from 4 to 7 June 1996.  A third meeting is scheduled for the autumn of 1996.

            For the purposes of evaluating generally the needs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Federation, concerning assistance in the field of legal institution-building, legislation, judiciary, administration and law enforcement, the Secretariat (Directorate of Legal Affairs) organised a mission at the end of May.

            Concerning (v) - Refugees - it is recalled that the President of the Human Rights Court nominated three out of the nine members of the Commission for the Real Estate Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees.  The Commission held its third meeting (in Rome) from 7 to 10 June 1996.  The Commission has inter alia prepared application forms for filing complaints.

            A fact-finding mission on the situation of the Roma/Gypsies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with which the OSCE was associated, took place from 15 to 21 May 1996, making recommendations on the eventual return of Roma and on their humanitarian situation in both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Concerning (vi) - Minorities - it is recalled, particularly in connection with the Croatian territory of Eastern Slavonia, that the Committee of Ministers has included in the "list of commitments and expectations" communicated to the Croatian authorities (as well as to the Assembly, cf. Doc 7617 of 15 July  1996) in connection with the process for accession to the Council of Europe, the following:

            "2.1      Croatia should provide information on the state of implementation of a plan for the return in stages of displaced persons and refugees, including in particular Serbs previously residing in the formerly occupied territories, and on measures taken to encourage, and to create the necessary conditions for such return in safety and dignity.  These conditions include the safety of persons, the free return of displaced persons and ...

            2.4        Croatia should pursue discussions with representatives and experts of the Council of Europe with a view to the implementation of the Constitutional Law on Human Rights and Minorities of 1991.

            2.5        Croatia should refrain from adopting legislative and other measures which would compromise ratification of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages."

            These two important instruments - like the European Convention on Human Rights (see above) - have been translated into the official languages of the countries concerned.

            Where (vii) - Local democracy (and Confidence-building measures) - is concerned, the Council of Europe confidence-building measures programme is supporting a number of pilot-projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina aiming at re-building trust among the different communities through activities carried out in common.  Among the projects sponsored are: a study on the Roma population in Bosnian cities, a school of civil society implemented by the Sarajevo and Tuzla Local Democracy Embassies.

            Concerning (viii) - role of the Social Development Fund - the Assembly will recall that its earlier Recommendation 1287 (of January 1996) was communicated by the Committee of Ministers for opinion to the Governing Body of the Fund, which, at its 149th meeting (18 June 1996), adopted an opinion, as follows:

            "The Governing Body of the Social Development Fund welcomes the interest which the Committee of Ministers shows in the Fund's possibilities of action for contributing to the international effort of reconstruction in the former Yugoslavia, and in particular in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It welcomes in particular the Committee's appeal to member States for contributions to the Selective Trust Account and for the granting of guarantees for projects in the non-member countries concerned. 

            It is pleased to inform the Committee of Ministers that an amount of ECU 15 million from the net results of the 1995 financial year has been allocated by the Fund's Administrative Council to the Selective Trust Account.  Part of this amount will be available for projects in favour of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The first such project, for an amount of USD 5 million, was approved by the Administrative Council at its 181st meeting on 22 April 1996. It involves the co-financing, by the Fund and the World Bank, for a programme of emergency medical aid - rehabilitation of health services in favour of war victims and refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina. By way of exception, and in the light of the urgency and the importance of this matter, the Administrative Council authorised the use of the Selective Trust Account not only for interest subsidies, but also for the internal coverage of the loan.  This exception was necessary because, despite repeated appeals, a sufficient number of member States had not as yet offered their guarantee."

            Where (ix) - relations with the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague - is concerned, the Committee of Ministers would recall that co-operating with the Tribunal headed the already-mentioned "list of commitments and expectations" addressed to the Croatian authorities in June 1996, in the following terms:

            [1.1]

            "According to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was also signed by Croatia, the latter is under the obligation to co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, in the investigation and prosecution of war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law.  In accordance with this obligation, Croatia should immediately arrest and turn over to the Tribunal indicted individuals (Stupni Do and Lasva Valley indictments) who are suspected of having committed war crimes or other violations of international humanitarian law.

            Croatia should further immediately co-operate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal regarding all other matters relating to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law."

            Finally, where (x) - possible future relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -is concerned, the final paragraph of the interim reply to Recommendation 1287 remains valid.

                           Appendix to the reply to Recommendations 1297 and 1301 (1996) of the Parliamentary Assembly