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Bosnia and Herzegovina - annual report 2014

Published: May 5, 2014
Länderbericht Bosnien 2014

State Secretary, ret. Lutz Diwell welcomes a delegation on the premises of the German Association of Judges

Strategische Rahmenbedingungen

Rechtspolitische Ausgangslage

The IRZ has regarded Bosnia and Herzegovina as a priority since 2000 due to the country’s specific situation. Because the country began the transformation of its legal system belatedly as a result of the war, the rapid implementation of rule-of-law standards is particularly urgent there. At the same time, consultation provided by Germany makes sense and is particularly sustainable because the law in Bosnia and Herzegovina is traditionally orientated towards the continental European model.

Difficulties arise in the project work in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the distinctly federal system, the entities of which only work together to a limited extent. The ensuing fragmentation of the law causes problems amongst other things for creating the conditions for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, which was signed in 2008 but has yet to be ratified. The cause of this is the still outstanding implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the Case of Sejdic/Finci from 2009, which calls for the elimination of discrimination in the right to be elected to office.

In order to overcome the standstill that has been reached in reform efforts, the German-UK initiative to rekindle the reform process and realign the process of approximation to the European Union was launched in 2014, in which the rule of law assumes a prominent role.

The IRZ would like to prevent any further brain drain, and hence attaches particular importance to young lawyers as they can create an important impetus for the reform process in the future. Many of them have lived in Germany as war refugees, speak German at native speaker level and feel predisposed towards Western European legal standards because of their experience abroad.

Overall concept

The focus of the IRZ in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the years has been on the rule of law and justice. It supports basic and further training in the field of civil and commercial law at the Law Schools and at both education centres for judges and public prosecutors. Activities in the study and reception of German law have moreover been added in recent years, each at the initiative of project partners in the country. Finally, the IRZ has released a number of legal publications in recent years in the local language which also target lawyers in other countries of the region. Not lastly, the topic of human rights in the post-conflict area of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains on the IRZ’s agenda. The partners in the country particularly include the further training centres for judges and public prosecutors of both entities, the German-Bosnian-Herzegovinian Lawyers’ Association (DBHJV), the law schools of the Universities of Mostar, Pale, Sarajevo and Zenica, as well as the “Vaša Prava” pro bono legal aid organisation. The IRZ also cooperates on suitable projects with other German institutions and organisations such as the GIZ and the Goethe Institute.

Foci of activity in 2014

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

Civil and commercial law

Administration of justice

Basic and further training


The IRZ will be continuing and intensifying its project work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015 in close collaboration with its partners. The focus here will continue to be on human rights and support for young lawyers as well as regional cooperation.