Bosnia and Herzegovina - annual report 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

  • Participation by the President of the Constitutional Court at the conference on the topic of “Fundamental rights- and human rights issues in the context of measures involving deprivation of liberty and prohibition of torture”, organised in cooperation with the Serbian Constitutional Court
  • Seminar on European anti-discrimination law in cooperation with the Judicial Education Centre of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Civil and commercial law

  • Conference on the new property law of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with Sarajevo Law School and the Austrian Office of Culture
  • Event on the law on insolvency in cooperation with the Judicial Education Centre of the Republika Srpksa

Administration of justice

  • Participation of a public prosecutor in the IRZ’s multilateral internship
  • 6th Day of German Law in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the topic of “European consumer protection law” in Zenica in cooperation with Zenica Law School and the German-Bosnian-Herzegovinian Lawyers’ Association (DBHJV)
  • German Embassy working party on issues related to states based on the rule of law in cooperation with the GIZ
  • Publication of two issues of the legal journal “Nova pravna revija” (“New legal revue”), which has been published since 2010 together with the DBHJV and the Serbian Society for the Study of German law and its Reception
  • Working visit to Berlin by multipliers on the structure of the judiciary in a federal system, implemented on behalf of USAID
  • Roundtable on the topic of the “Implementation of EU law in national law” in Sarajevo in cooperation with Sarajevo Law School and the Goethe Institute
  • Seminar on “The influence of European law on national law, in particular on consumer protection and labour law” in cooperation with the judicial training centre of the Republika Srpska

Basic and further training

  • Supplementary studies on German law at Sarajevo Law School with regular lectures in German, as well as:
    • a course in German legal terminology
    • further expansion of the “IRZ Library of German law“ at the Law School in Sarajevo
    • participation of students in the “German law” summer school in Brühl and Bonn
    • study visit to Berlin, organised together with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection


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.