Revise Bosnian Constitution to Ensure Ethnic Equality

Target: The European Union

Goal: Change the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina so all ethnic groups are afforded equal rights

The ethnically-divided war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was ostensibly put to an end during the Dayton Peace Accords of 1995. During this time, a constitution was drafted for the country with the help of the European Union and the United States. While this constitution was meant to put an end to the largely ethno-centric war and give the different ethnic groups that make up the diverse Balkan country equal rights, some ethnic groups were left out and are still experiencing discrimination today.

While the largest ethnic groups that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats) are explicitly protected under the constitution, smaller ethnic groups; namely Jews and Romas (widely known as Gypsies), are not guaranteed the same human rights as the predominant ethnic groups.

The most blatant lack of equality comes in the form of government representation. Only Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats are allowed to run for the presidency or for the House of Peoples. The agreements reached in 1995 were meant to usher in a new, peaceful era for the historically hostile Balkan region and attempt to ensure equal rights for all citizens regardless of ethnicity. Instead, the discriminatory practices that have been the cause of so much conflict over the centuries are still in place, only directed towards other ethnic groups.

The European Union was instrumental in the formation of a new Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the drafting of the country’s constitution. It is time they ensure the mistakes that were made in the process are corrected and the human rights abuses the constitution allows are ended. Even though the European Union has spoken out against this discriminatory constitution, they need to put more pressure on the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to change their constitution to provide equality for all people regardless of ethnicity.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear European Union,

The Dayton Peace Accords of 1995 were meant to usher in a new era of peace and ethnic equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite these efforts, sanctioned ethnic discrimination still runs rampant in the country.

The constitution drafted during Dayton only offers equality to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s three largest ethnic groups. Less prominent ethnic groups are unable to run for any substantial office in the country and therefore are treated as second-class citizens.

Just as the EU was called upon to help end the violence and make the first strides towards Bosnian ethnic equality nearly 20 years ago, you are needed once again in the small country. Even though the EU has made their position clear that this discrimination is intolerable, it is time to put some serious pressure on the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to allow all people the same rights and privileges regardless of ethnicity.

This is not a matter that can wait; this is a matter that requires an immediate solution. Right now, people are living as government-sanctioned second-class citizens. The EU must do everything in their power to peacefully end this injustice of human rights and continue the job they started in 1995.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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Signatures

  • alper arslan
  • alper arslan
  • stefan hellmann
  • scanalyse
  • Katarina Parker
  • elena sanchez
  • Lisa Seitz
  • Tim Upham
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