The decision of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina to have its UN ambassador chair an upcoming topic session of the UN Security Council is perhaps inappropriate, but not unexpected. Traditionally, these topic sessions are led by a country’s foreign minister (or an official of a similar ranking), and the Bosnian Presidency’s decision to have its UN ambassador chair the session instead diminishes the session’s importance.
The topic session in question is scheduled for 21 January and will debate on the post-conflict development and reconciliation – a topic Bosnia would certainly like to diminish for reasons of tensions at home.
The Bosnian Presidency has failed to pass a single unified decision on any issue of significance in the past eight years, so it is no surprise that it is now seeking to send a lower-ranking official to chair a sensitive UNSC topic session.
Last week, Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik qualified as a “farce” and “absurdity” the fact that a country that is functioning under an international protectorate has taken over the UNSC presidency.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj said that decision to avoid sending high-ranking officials to chair the session came from the Bosnian Serb representative in the presidency, Nebojsa Radmanovic. As such, this could be viewed as another attempt by Republika Srpska to diminish Bosnia’s state institutions, which the Bosnian Serb leadership believes are encroaching on entity autonomy.
Because of Bosnia’s decision, several high-ranking officials have already announced that they will not attend the topic session, including the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and several foreign ministers.
With such urgent issues as Sudan and Korea on the UNSC agenda in January, during Bosnia’s presidency of the Council, it is unfortunate that Bosnia finds itself in a position that will degrade the importance of the role it has been given. Another opportunity missed.