High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

High Representative for
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Valentin Inzko

since 26 March 2009
Inaugural holder Carl Bildt
14 December 1995
Formation Dayton Peace Agreement
14 December 1995
Website www.ohr.int
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Bosnia and Herzegovina

The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were created in 1995 immediately after the signing of the Dayton Agreement which ended the 1992–95 Bosnian War. The purpose of the High Representative and the OHR is to oversee the civilian implementation of the Dayton agreement. They also serve to represent the countries involved in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement through the Peace Implementation Council (PIC). To the present, all of the High Representatives named have been from European Union countries, while their principal deputies have been from the United States. The Principal Deputy High Representative serves as International Supervisor for Brčko, representing the international community in the Brčko District.

Legal basis in the Dayton Peace Agreements

The Dayton Agreement created the legal basis for the OHR. Its Annex 10 provides for the institution of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina to oversee the civilian implementation of the agreement, representing the countries involved in the Dayton Accords through the Peace Implementation Council.

The Bonn Powers of the OHR

At its December 1997 meeting in Bonn, the Peace Implementation Council agreed in granting further substantial powers to the OHR, in order to avoid the implementation of the Dayton agreement being delayed or obstructed by local nationalist politicians. The OHR was requested to:

  1. adopt binding decisions when local parties seem unable or unwilling to act;
  2. remove from office public officials who violate legal commitments or, in general, the DPA.[1]

The Bonn powers were extensively used by the OHR in the following decade. Some examples include the adoption of the Defence reform in April 2003, with the suppression of the Supreme Defence Council of the Republika Srpska, and the amendment of Entity Constitutional Laws[1]

Until 2004, the OHR had dismissed a total of 139 officials, including judges, ministers, civil servants and members of parliaments, sometimes along with freezing their bank accounts. After the 2002 elections, the OHR scrutinised all political candidates for major ministerial positions at Entity and State level.[1]

Criticisms of the action of the OHR through its Bonn powers include:[1][2]

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which Bosnia and Herzegovina had joined in 2002, has voiced complaints against the actions of the OHR, requiring it to transfer his powers to the Bosnian authorities as soon as possible.[3]

The OHR's prolonged interference in the politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina is also considered to be one of the causes of the low commitment of citizens towards the state (shown by low voter turnout) and of low accountability of politicians (whose actions are finally subject to external review).[1]

Fusion with the EUSR post

Between 2002 and 2011 the High Representative also served as the European Union Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina.[4][5]

Under Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the OHR seemed to soften its invasiveness, thanks to pressures from the Council of Europe and a growing EU involvement. The number of OHR legislative initiatives and of dismissed officials lowered.[1]

On 27 February 2008, the PIC decided to end the High Representative's mandate on 30 June 2008. The EU decision to shut down the OHR by June 2007 unexpectedly aroused disappointment and concern in the Bosnian population, NGOs, and politicians.[1] However, since the PIC February 2008 review, it was decided to extend that mandate indefinitely until a set of positive benchmarks have been fulfilled.[6]

The "double hatting" between EUSR and OHR was discontinued in 2011, when the EU representative post was fused between the EUSR and the head of the EU delegation.

Conditions for closure of the Office of the High Representative

OHR building in Grbavica

In February 2008 the Peace Implementation Council set the conditions for closure of the OHR. The most critical issues will be considered objectives to be achieved by the BiH authorities before transition from OHR to a European Union presence can take place. From a long list of known priorities the PIC selected the key ones for transition, for closure of OHR:[6]

In addition to these objectives there are also two conditions:

Additional non-written condition to be enforced through the "assessment by the PIC Steering Board" final condition, was adopted later by the US and some EU countries:[8]

Closure of the OHR is considered by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council to be a pre-condition for EU membership and even for candidate status.[8][9]

List of High Representatives

# Officeholder Lifespan Term of office Country
1 Carl Bildt 1949– 14 December 1995 17 June 1997  Sweden
2 Carlos Westendorp 1937– 18 June 1997 17 August 1999  Spain
3 Wolfgang Petritsch 1947– 18 August 1999 26 May 2002  Austria
4 Paddy Ashdown 1941– 27 May 2002 31 January 2006  United Kingdom
5 Christian Schwarz-Schilling 1930– 1 February 2006 30 June 2007  Germany
6 Miroslav Lajčák 1963– 1 July 2007 28 February 2009  Slovakia
7 Valentin Inzko 1949– 1 March 2009 Incumbent  Austria

See also


External links

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