Regional workshop on the participation rights of refugees

Participants of the workshop
Participants of the workshop
Bosnia and Herzegovina

The workshop “The rights of refugees – access to economic and social rights” organised by the IRZ in conjunction with the Bosnian-Herzegovinian NGO “Vaša Prava” took place on 6 and 7 July 2022.

As well as staff from Vaša Prava, which operates a nationwide legal aid network, colleagues from non-governmental organisations from Serbia and North Macedonia also took part in the workshop. In addition, staff from the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the UNHCR location Sarajevo also took part.

The workshop showed many parallels between legal regulations and their practical implementation in the participating countries. The legal provisions in which the rights of refugees are precisely defined are largely regarded as positive. In practice, there are considerable transposition deficits caused by a lack of implementing provisions, contradictions with other statutory regulations, but also lack of awareness by the responsible authorities and a lack of capacity.

Under the heading “Integration at the half-way point?” participants discussed to what extent integration in transit countries is even feasible and desired by the parties concerned. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have exacerbated the problems of supporting refugees and the constant exchange of NGOs with public authorities also seemed to come to a halt.

As a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, there are currently also Ukrainian refugees in the region, who mainly entered legally with valid tourist visas. At the moment there is a lack of information regarding their treatment as refugees.

The workshop was the first in-person IRZ event in the region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants benefitted from the advantages of the face-to-face format and were able to share an intensive exchange of experiences and opinions, which they continued even outside the official programme. The event gave colleagues from the three participatory countries the opportunity to hold discussions again in person after a hiatus of more than two years. The event therefore also contributed to local networking.

International private law with a regional outlook

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The online seminar “Conflict of Laws Issues in Status, Family and Inheritance Law” was held jointly by IRZ and the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 29 June 2022.

As speakers, the organisers were able to recruit three experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia with an outstanding track record of relevant publications and research stays at various institutions in Germany.

Prof. Zlatan Meskić from the Faculty of Law at the University of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, opened the seminar. He jointly authored a textbook on international private law (IPR) with the next speaker, Prof. Slavko Djordjević from the Faculty of Law at the University of Kragujevac, Serbia, which was published as a joint project between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The third talk was held by Prof. Maya Kostić Mandić from the Faculty of Law at the University of Montenegro in Podgorica.

International private law plays a significant role in family and inheritance law due to the intricate nature of cross-border personal relationships, which are typical in the region of former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina also faces problems related to competing legal systems within the country. For instance, inheritance law in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognises testamentary contracts, which are void under the law of Republika Srpska as the second entity. This means that many decisions with far-reaching significance for the affected persons hinge on the ‘technical’ question of applicable law. The participants addressed these issues during the discussions as well.

The status of legal transformation in the three participating countries also differ: while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia adhere to IPR law that used to apply to all of former Yugoslavia, Montenegro has already implemented a new law that integrates the unified EU conflict-of-law rules into national law. The presentation on Montenegro therefore provided – from the perspective of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian participants – initial insight into changes to their own legal system that can be expected going forward.

Resumption of face-to-face lectures in Sarajevo with the participation of the IRZ

Dr Stefan Pürner (IRZ)
Dr Stefan Pürner (IRZ)
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 26 April 2022, face-to-face lectures were resumed at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sarajevo after an interruption of two years due to Covid-19.

The IRZ was represented by attorney Dr. Stefan Pürner, Head of Section for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia.

The latter gave an opening lecture on the development of civil justice in Germany with a special focus on mediation as an option that is increasingly used for alternative dispute resolution.

The attendees also included lawyers, so that aspects of practice in Bosnia and Herzegovina were also discussed. The participants from academia and practice engaged in an interesting round of questions and lively exchanges after the lecture.