Bosnian Parliament Adopts Platform for Peace: Amid post-war divisions, government promotes reconciliation activities

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Members of Bosnia’s House of Representatives voting to adopt the Platform for Peace on July 5, 2018, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Almir Panjeta (paid for by USAID PRO-Future project)

Not a day goes by in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in which ethnic and religious divisions – the foundation and a remnant of the 1992-95 war – are not seen, heard, used for political gain, or otherwise felt firsthand. That in itself makes the Bosnian government’s adoption of the Platform for Peace all the more remarkable.

The Platform for Peace is a declaration document developed as part of USAID’s PRO-Future project to promote acceptance of peace-building and reconciliation processes among ethnicities and religious communities in BiH and to garner support for the activities at both the state and local levels. It is the product of three years of intensive and close work with the mayors of 60 municipalities and the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, in consultation with peace-building experts and other stakeholders.

Yet the road to adoption was not an easy one. While political, economic and social stability has improved since 1995, BiH society remains divided and unable to develop a common national vision. The overarching obstacle to democratic and state-building processes is institutionalized ethnic division. Divisive politics have a national and regional dimension that extends to war commemorations, court decisions on war crimes, and elections and regional events in Serbia and Croatia, even Russia and Turkey.

The Platform’s vote was postponed twice, first due to lack of a quorum and fiery debate (over the Platform itself) and then to ensure support by a large number of members of parliament to send a stronger message of peaceful coexistence and tolerance. But on July 5, 2018, the BiH House of Representatives adopted it by a vote of 30 to 5, with two abstentions, and on July 27, the BiH House of Peoples adopted it unanimously.

Bosnian Parliament Adopts USAID-supported Platform for Peace
Amid post-war divisions, Bosnian government promotes reconciliation activities by adopting USAID-supported Platform for Peace
Almir Panjeta (paid for by USAID PRO-Future project)


“We as members of parliament can contribute by adopting the Platform and directly supporting peace initiatives,” said Parliamentarian Lazar Prodanović at the vote. “We cannot change what happened, but we can do more to build true peace in BiH to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.”

Mladen Bosić, speaker of the BiH Parliament, said, “There is no better way of reminding us all of what can happen if we do not get involved and if we fail to call for mutual understanding and peace.”

Adoption of the Platform by all 60 mayors and now the BiH Parliament sends a message to the region that, despite ongoing ethnic tensions and inflammatory nationalist rhetoric, support for building sustainable peace is strong.

“By adopting the Platform for Peace, the BiH institutions have sent a message to the local, regional, and international public that BiH as a country is ready … to transform and become a model of true reconciliation and long-term and sustainable peace and stability,” said Parliament member Maja Gasal Vražalica.

The Platform will also be a resource for citizens and local communities in the process of building lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The Platform for Peace … unambiguously demonstrates that we all agree that peace is the only option possible – with no alternative,” said Borislav Bojić, chairman of the BiH Joint Human Rights Committee.

USAID’s PRO-Future project is implemented in 70 municipalities in BiH by Catholic Relief Services in partnership with the Institute for Youth Development KULT, Caritas, Forum of Tuzla Citizens, Banja Luka Helsinki Citizen Assembly, Nansen Dialogue Center Mostar, and the BiH Interreligious Council.