Bosnia and Herzegovina - annual report 2015

Länderbericht Bih 2015Complementary studies on German law: graduate Mia Softić Vinšalek giving her speech

Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

The IRZ has regarded Bosnia and Herzegovina as one of its priorities since 2000 due to the country's specific situation. Because the country did not begin the transformation of its legal system until late as a result of the war, the rapid implementation of the standards of the constitutional state ("Rechtsstaat") is particularly urgent there. At the same time, consultation provided by Germany makes sense and is particularly sustainable because the law in Bosnia-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, which also causes a fragmentation of the law. Despite these and other inhibiting factors, when the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU came into force on 1 June 2015, this constituted a further major step towards approximation to the EU. Furthermore, 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.

Because of the "reform bottleneck", the IRZ is currently focussing its efforts on the basic and further training of lawyers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to cooperation with practicing legal professionals, in particular with judges from the ordinary courts and the constitutional courts, the focus is on supporting young lawyers. This is to prevent any further brain drain. Furthermore, particular importance attaches to young lawyers as they can create an important impetus for the reform process in the future. Furthermore, many of them have lived in Germany as war refugees, speak German at native speaker level and feel predisposed towards Western European legal standards as a result 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 Faculties of Law 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 the local language in recent years which also target lawyers in other countries of the region. The topic of human rights ultimately remains on the agenda of the IRZ in the post-conflict area of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 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 Faculties of Law of the Universities of Mostar, 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 2015

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

  • Attendance bythe President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and by another judge at the conference on the topic of freedom of opinion in Bečići, Montenegro, organised together with the Montenegrin Constitutional Court
  • Attendance by judges of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the conference on the topic of "Constitutional courts and the media", organised in cooperation with the Serbian Constitutional Court
  • Attendance by the President and another judge of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the international constitutional law conference in Regensburg co-organised by the IRZ
  • Publication of the collection of the case-law of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2013 and 2014, as well as of a volume containing legal provisions on the procedure before this Court and before the ECtHR
  • Attendance by the chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the IV International Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs in Berlin
  • Conference on the topic of "Possibilities available under the law to reduce child poverty", organised together with the Faculty of Law of the Djemal-Bjedic University in Mostar

Civil and commercial law

  • Seminars within the training programme of the Judicial Education Centre of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo on the topics of
  • legal issues related to the new Property Act
  • EU law in the legal system of Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly taking account of insurance law
  • UN Sales Convention
  • Seminar in Banja Luka on medical malpractice law as part of the training programme of the Judicial Education Centres of the Republika Srpska
  • Translation of the Act on Limited Companies, with an explanatory foreword
  • Regional roundtable discussion on insurance law at Zenica Faculty of Law and provision of supporting specialist literature

Administration of justice

  • Drafting of the five-year cumulative volume (2010-2014) of the "Nova Pravna Revija - legal journal for regional, German and European law" (NPR) with additional registers and German translations
  • Continuation of the publication of the NPR, including a special publication on real estate law in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Presentation of the NPR at the annual meeting of the Association of Legal and Similar Libraries in South Eastern Europe in Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Lecture on the insurance law activities of the IRZ at the Western Balkans conference of the German Insurance Association (GDV)
  • Guest lectures on the topic of "Discrimination against Jews in National Socialism by means of civil law" at Sarajevo and Zenica Law Schools
  • Lecture on international legislation consultation on the occasion of the annual journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina of the academic staff of the Federal Constitutional Court
  • Seminar on "The judiciary and the media" at the Judicial Education Centre of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Basic and further training

  • Continuation of the supplementary studies on German law at Sarajevo Law School by means of regular lectures in German held by local lecturers, as well as block lectures by German speakers
  • Further expansion of the German-language legal library and graduation ceremony of the first generation of successful graduates
  • Legal terminology course entitled "German for lawyers" at Sarajevo Law School
  • Attendance by Bosnian-Herzegovinian lawyers and students at the IRZ's "German law" summer school in Brühl and Bonn
  • Block event entitled "Introduction to German law for students of German in preparation for future work as translators and interpreters" at the German Studies School in Sarajevo


The IRZ will be continuing and intensifying its project work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016 in close coordination with its partners. The focus here will continue to be on human rights and support for young lawyers as well as regional cooperation.