Citizenship Reform: General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina

THE GENERAL FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT

Annex 4 Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina

7. Citizenship. There shall be a citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be regulated by the Parliamentary Assembly, and a citizenship of each Entity, to be regulated by each Entity, provided that:
All citizens of either Entity are thereby citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

a. No person shall be deprived of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Entity citizenship arbitrarily or so as to leave him or her stateless. No person shall be deprived of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Entity citizenship on any ground such as sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

b. All persons who were citizens of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina immediately prior to the entry into force of this Constitution are citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The citizenship of persons who were naturalized after April 6, 1992 and before the entry into force of this Constitution will be regulated by the Parliamentary Assembly.

c. Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina may hold the citizenship of another state, provided that there is a bilateral agreement, approved by the Parliamentary Assembly in accordance with Article IV(4)(d), between Bosnia and Herzegovina and that state governing this matter. Persons with dual citizenship may vote in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Entities only if Bosnia and Herzegovina is their country of residence.

d. A citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina abroad shall enjoy the protection of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each Entity may issue passports of Bosnia and Herzegovina to its citizens as regulated by the Parliamentary Assembly. Bosnia and Herzegovina may issue passports to citizens not issued a passport by an Entity. There shall be a central register of all passports issued by the Entities and by Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Implementation History

1995

No Implementation

No information was available on the implementation of the citizenship provisions in the Dayton Accord.

1996

Minimum Implementation

The Office of the High Representative (OHR) facilitated the proper initiation for the functioning of government institutions. This consisted of establishing the minimal legislative basis for the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to operate, which included citizenship and passport regulations.1 Further information was not available.

1997

Minimum Implementation

In May, the International conference in Sintra, Portugal, established the deadline of Friday, August 1 for Bosnia and Herzegovina to agree on common citizenship, passports, and common ambassadors. Parties failed to reach an agreement by the stipulated deadline. When the deadline was not met, the High Representative extended the deadline until Monday, August 4. If the parties did not meet this deadline, they would face possible international penalties. As Bosnia's ruling Council of Ministers failed to reach an agreement, International High Representative Carlos Westendorp announced on August 4 that he had recommended a series of new penalties.2 To avoid these penalties, the Council of Ministers met on Tuesday to try to agree on common citizenship policies, but failed.3

In a press conference organized by the OHR on 1 October 1997, the High Representative suggested that no progress had been made on issues related to common citizenship and passports.4

The High Representative reported to the UN Secretary General that the Council of Ministers had finalized the draft laws on travel documents and forwarded them to the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Parliament, however, failed to reach a consensus on the draft law on citizenship. Because of this failure, the High Representative took action to bring this law into force as of 1 January 1998.5 The High Representative promulgated the law on citizenship on 18 December. The law was not adopted by the Bosnia-Hercegovina Parliament. As soon as the law was promulgated, a member of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Presidency Momcilo Krajisnik had described the High Representative’s decision as a bad move, dictated by the behavior of the Muslim side.6

  • 2. “Last chance for Bosnia to agree citizenship and passports,” Agence France Presse, August 4, 1997.
  • 3. “Bosnia's leaders try to escape sanctions by agreeing common citizenship,” Agence France Presse, August 5, 1997.
  • 4. “Press Conference by the High Representative, Mr. Carlos Westendorp and the Principal Deputy High Representative, Amb. Jacques Paul Klein following the Meeting of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council,” Office of the High Representative (OHR), accessed April 29, 2011, http://www.ohr.int/ohr-dept/presso/pressb/default.asp?content_id=4855.
  • 5. “8th Report of the High Representative for Implementation of the Bosnian Peace Agreement to the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” Office of the High Representative (OHR), 1998, accessed April 29, 2011, http://www.ohr.int/other-doc/hr-reports/default.asp?content_id=3671.
  • 6. “Leader says citizenship law is dangerous for future of Bosnia,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 19, 1997.
1998

Full Implementation

It was reported that the Yugoslav government approved a bill on January 29, 1998, “ratifying an accord on citizenship between Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Hercegovina." The ratification of the accord would enable citizens of Bosnia, in particular Serbs and Montenegrins, to request Yugoslav citizenship as well.7 The citizenship agreement was then ratified by the Yugoslavia Parliament on 3 March 1998.8 Bosnian Croats also had dual citizenship rights with Croatia.

In a report to the UN Secretary General dated 14 October 1998, the High Representative said that “a draft Law on Citizenship of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been finalised (sic) and is to be adopted. A similar procedure will be used for drafting the equivalent law for the RS."9

  • 7. “Government approves bill on citizenship accord with Bosnia,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, January 31, 1998.
  • 8. “Assembly ratifies dual citizenship law with Bosnia,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, March 5, 1998.
  • 9. “11th Report of the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement to the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” Office of the High Representative (OHR), 1998, accessed April 29, 2011, http://www.ohr.int/other-doc/hr-reports/default.asp?content_id=3674.
1999

Full Implementation

The citizenship law was adopted in 1998. No further developments were reported.

2000

Full Implementation

The citizenship law was adopted in 1998. No further developments were reported.

2001

Full Implementation

The citizenship law was adopted in 1998. No further developments were reported.

2002

Full Implementation

The citizenship law was adopted in 1998. No further developments were reported.

2003

Full Implementation

The citizenship law was adopted in 1998. No further developments were reported.

2004

Full Implementation

The citizenship law was adopted in 1998. No further developments were reported.

2005

Full Implementation

In cooperation with an OHR expert, the Bosnia and Herzegovina government amended the citizenship bill and forwarded it to the state parliament on adoption by urgent procedure. The revised law set up “a state commission for revision of decisions on naturalization of foreign citizens” (BBC Monitoring Europe, 2005).10

  • 10. “Bosnia government sends amended citizenship law for approval,” BBC Monitoring Europe, October 28, 2005.