University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Bosnia and Herzegovina, U.N. Doc. A/50/18, paras. 205-225 (1995).



Forty-sixth session

Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Bosnia and Herzegovina

205. The Committee considered the report of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CERD/C/247/Add.1) at its 1082nd and 1092nd meetings, held on 7 and 14 March 1995 (CERD/C/SR.1082 and 1092).

206. At its 1082nd meeting the Committee proceeded in the absence of a representative of the State party. Members drew attention to aspects of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasizing the effects of the ongoing conflict and the activities of international bodies.

207. Some members called for the lifting of the international arms embargo on the export of arms to the State party, withdrawal of the United Nations Protection Force and more forceful action by the Security Council. Such suggestions elicited debate.

208. A delegation of the State party attended the 1092nd meeting of the Committee. The State representative expressed regret for the late submission of the report and the inability, by reason of war conditions, of representatives to attend earlier meetings in which his country was discussed.

209. The representative drew attention to the establishment of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the very strong human rights provisions contained therein in its Constitution, including the provision incorporating the Convention and other international instruments into the law of the Federation. The representative also explained the envisioned roles for the ombudsmen and the Human Rights Court. Support was expressed for the rule of law and for international procedures such as the International Tribunal for the prosecution of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

210. The representative described the terrible situation afflicting the country owing to the aggression of secessionist and external forces, whereby the Government was not in control of all its territory and was unable to halt massive violations of human rights in these areas.

211. Members of the Committee expressed appreciation for the presence of a high-level delegation from the State party and for the information provided both orally and in the report. Understanding was expressed for the great difficulties which the war and Sarajevo siege placed on the State party in meeting its reporting obligations under the Convention.

212. A number of members requested further information on the legal structures in the Constitutions of the Republic and the Federation which serve to protect and vindicate human rights, such as the judicial system, including the proposed Human Rights Court, and procedures for prosecution of crimes against humanity whether domestically or before the International Tribunal. The representative was also asked to indicate the extent to which ethnically motivated and other such crimes were in the course of being investigated and prosecuted.

213. Concerning the ongoing war, members asked for information as to the Government's understanding of the long-term political ambitions of the separatists and for its view on the effectiveness and utility of the United Nations Protection Force. A member also asked for the views of the representative as to whether the conflict was essentially ethnically or politically based.

214. Members asked whether Bosnia and Herzegovina remained a pluralist State which rejected ethnic discrimination or preferment. One member asked whether non-Muslims were treated equally to Muslims. Further information was requested on the influence of the mass media and whether they had contributed to the promotion of ethnic hatred.

215. In replying to a range of questions posed, the representative of the State party reiterated his country's commitment to the rule of law and to the importance of the principles of human rights. He stressed the culpability of aggressors who were attempting to dismember his country. He and other members of the delegation presented their analysis of attempts to create a "Greater Serbia".

216. The important role played by the United Nations Protection Force was acknowledged, though representatives said that it was inadequate to meet the needs which should be addressed.

Concluding observations

217. At its 1097th meeting, held on 16 March 1995, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

218. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination acknowledges the report received from the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is profoundly distressed about the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law reported therein. The Committee appreciates the presence of the representatives of the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and takes note with appreciation of the information provided orally.

(b) Principal subjects of concern

219. The Committee expresses its grave concern and condemns the massive, gross and systematic human rights violations occurring in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of which are committed in connection with the systematic policy of "ethnic cleansing" and genocidal acts in the areas under the control of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb authorities. All these practices, which are still occurring, constitute a grave violation of all the basic principles underlying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Committee urges the immediate reversal of ethnic cleansing which must begin with the voluntary return of displaced people.

220. The Committee deeply regrets that no effective protection was afforded to the population even in the Security Council-declared "safe areas".

221. It is deeply deplored that due to the control of parts of its territory by secessionist forces with support from outside, the State party is not in a position to exercise control over the whole of its territory and consequently cannot ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention throughout the State. It is noted that the secessionist forces are mainly responsible for systematic violations of human rights in areas under their de facto control, including rights ensured by the Convention, the principal victims of which are those belonging to the Muslim community. The Committee, being aware of the inherent right to self-defence of all States, as recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, notes that the Government has been prevented from protecting human rights throughout its territory.

222. The Committee is deeply concerned over the threat to the territorial integrity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina posed by the design for a "Greater Serbia".

(c) Suggestions and recommendations

223. The Committee reaffirms that persons responsible for massive, gross and systematic human rights violations and also crimes against international humanitarian law should be held responsible and prosecuted on the national or the international level.

224. While mindful of the complexities of the resort to enforcement action, as explained by the United Nations Secretary-General in the supplement to an Agenda for Peace (A/50/60-S/1995/1), the Committee expresses the view that the continuing and persistent violations of basic principles of international law and international obligations deriving therefrom, including basic principles underlying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, calls for the application of enforcement measures by the Security Council in connection with the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

225. The Committee repeats its offer of technical assistance to the State party in the form of a mission of one or more of its members for the purpose of promoting the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.




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