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Human rights protection and cantonisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Civil state and concept of constituent peoples

by Zarije Seizovic

Wide-ranging support for human rights protection including protection of human rights that fall under the realm of freedom of religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is provided by the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina) Despite of its outstanding "ceremonial achievements" in the field of human rights protection of individuals, the entire political structure of BiH is based on the principle of exclusive ethnic representation of the three "constituent peoples" which, de facto, constitutes efficient disadvantage to functioning of State and Entity institutions, whenever minority of (self) selected feels like obstructing decision-making processes.

It is more than clear that neither individually nor collectively understood "national affiliation" at the BiH political actuality can be exclusively situated in particular part of the BiH territory. The "Bosniakhood", "Croatianhood" and "Serbianhood" cannot be limited to one or just some parts of BiH territory. Presumption of to be Bosniak, Croat or Serb does not automatically presume association with specific part of the BiH territory where (used to) live members of that particular ethnicity.

Ethnical, cultural, traditional, habitual as well as other components of complicated BiH social milieu is composed of sophisticated net of "Bosnian concord of diversity" so territorial principle taken as a base to form an opinion on somebody's ethnic affiliation has no either theoretical or practical rationalization. Thereby any idea and/or theory of "ethno-cantonisation" or any other "ethno-regionalisation", notwithstanding if it comes from "outside" or "inside", is absolutely incompatible with multiethnic concept of the BiH society and entails latent threat to survival of the State of BiH. Cantonization, of course, might be concept of internal institutional structure of the multi-ethnic state under the condition that it is a civilized state in which any form of diversity cannot be ground for human rights violation whatsoever.

On the other side cantonisation and/or regionalisation based on natural and geographical distinctiveness, as model of "de-entitetization" of BiH seems to be the sole constitutional solution for internal state organization of BiH. Denying status of constituent peoples to Bosniaks and Croats in the Republika Srpska and/or to Serbs in the Federation of BiH is both in discord with the BiH Constitution and has no historical justification, as it is well known that BiH was at all times multiethnic society sui generis and paradigm of "unity and tolerance".


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