COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
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
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.
217. At its 1097th meeting, held on 16 March 1995, the Committee adopted
the following concluding observations.
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
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.