Bosnia and Herzegovina – annual report 2020

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point 

Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU entered into force on 1 June 2015 and which applied for accession to the EU the following year, was late to start transforming its legal system due to the war. Implementing rule of law standards is therefore, a matter of even greater urgency. Difficulties associated with project work in Bosnia and Herzegovina emerge in connection with the pronounced federal system, as both entities only cooperate to a limited extent, which encourages fragmentation of the law. Moreover, internal political conflicts still lead to reform standstill. Local elections scheduled for 2020 also had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall Concept

IRZ prioritises the basic and further training of lawyers in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the situation described above. In this context, IRZ supports events on civil and commercial law at the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training (CEST) of the entities Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and Republika Srpska in Banja Luka and at the law faculties of the universities of Sarajevo, Mostar and Zenica.

Moreover, IRZ cooperates closely with the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the Vaša Prava legal aid organisation in the area of human rights. As part of its activities, IRZ invites members of different ethnic groups to attend its measures as a means of counteracting ethnic tensions.

Focus of Activity in 2020

Constitutional Law, Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Virtual, regional Constitutional Court conference “Dissenting votes in constitutional decisions” together with the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Distribution of translated decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) on constitutional matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other constitutional issues

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Regional conference on “Family law in the age of globalisation” as part of the traditional annual international “Days of Family Law”, jointly organised with the Faculty of Law at Džemal Bijedić University of Mostar
  • Online seminar “Human rights with a special focus on gender equality and anti-discrimination” together with the Vaša Prava legal aid organisation
  • Online seminars with CEST FBiH on the topics of:
    • Relationship between European law and national law
    • European and national consumer protection law
    • Application of the law of property
    • Preparation and implementation of appeal hearings in civil cases by the judges
  • Online seminars with CEST RS on the topics of:
    • Legal aspects of consumer protection
    • Damages in civil law
    • Protection of ownership rights

Administration of Justice

  • Online seminar with CEST FBiH on the topics of:
    • Judicial preparation for trials
    • Conduct of proceedings and issuance of decisions
    • Ethics and integrity of judges with special consideration of gender equality in the judiciary
  • Online seminars with CEST RS on the topics of:
    • Court settlement
    • promotion of settlements by the court following German practice

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Online seminar with CEST FBiH on policy to combat corruption

Basic and Further Training

  • Online seminar series on the topic of “Introduction to the legal case method” for undergraduates and doctoral students of the Faculty of Law at the University of Zenica
  • Involvement of participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina in a regional online workshop series for German-speaking IRZ alumni from the partner states Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia on the topics of:
    • COVID-19 and German federalism
    • Questions of labour law in connection with corona, parts I and II
    • Arbitration in Germany
    • Questions of constitutional law in connection with COVID-19, parts I, II and III
    • Problems of language mediation in the legal field
  • Raising the profile of German and European law through further expansion of the “IRZ Library of German Law” at the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo and provision of suitable literature for researchers and students working in relevant areas at the Faculty of Law Dz˘emal-Bijedic´ University in Mostar and Zenica


In 2021, IRZ will continue and build on its project work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in close cooperation with its partners. A particular priority will be to continue cooperation with the country‘s Constitutional Court and the Centres for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training in both entities. IRZ also aims to resume its activities in the area of legislative advice once the current reform backlog has been cleared, in order to promote legal harmonisation. In doing so, it is keen to deploy experts to add experience from German federalism in particular and contribute to the harmonisation of legislation in the entities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.