In the early 1990’s Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was the site of a large-scale armed conflict characterised by systematic and widespread violations of international humanitarian law, and resulting in an estimated 100,000 deaths and widespread and systematic forms of sexual violence.
Facing the events from the recent past, especially by dealing with the remnants of war pertaining to transitional justice issues, is recognised as a basic precondition for reconciliation and for the development of BiH into a democratic and stable country.
Post conflict issues in BiH continue to pose problems for sustainable development - mine contaminated territory is estimated at 2.8%, approximately 18,000 tons of military ammunition surpluses still exist, an estimated three quarters of a million uncontrolled weapons remain in civilian possession, all of which present a significant threat to the security of the country and the region. The processing of war crimes and provision of justice for the victims has been significantly delayed and the much-needed reform of the Judiciary has stalled. BiH is also vulnerable to a number of natural hazards such as floods, droughts, fires and earthquakes, and the capacities to mitigate and reduce the risks and to effectively respond to disasters are decentralised and limited.
Judicial reform in BiH represents one of the key requirements for EU accession. The BiH judicial system has a backlog estimated at over two million cases, including civil cases, war crimes, organised crime and administrative cases. Ensuring equality before the law and its uniform application are of crucial importance to the country’s progress. Services, such as the provision of support to victims and witnesses and the provision of free legal aid, remain limited in their availability and have inadequate resources and capacities.
Combating and processing gender based (GBV) and sexual violence cases (SV) from the 1992-1995 war has shown limited progress, due to the lack of harmonised legislation and effective mechanisms for processing GBV and SV cases.
The Justice and Security Sector works to ensure that judicial institutions function independently and efficiently, and that access to and delivery of justice and improved security in BiH is in line with the requirements for European Integration, as outlined in the EU’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and the European Partnership Strategy.
Through co-ordinated activities in the areas of justice and security, the Sector aims to lay the foundations for integrated and sustainable judicial services, available to all, within a safe and secure environment. While overcoming this legacy is a sine qua non condition for consolidating the stability and advancing the democratic process in BiH, UNDP proposes a holistic approach through a consolidated set of tools to address post-conflict issues and bridge the gaps between the implementation of the EU Acquis Communautaire and the necessary institutional reforms, and the provision and delivery of justice to the victims of the war.
The focus, among other things, is on strengthening the capacities of our national partners within the BiH judiciary, to transform them into modern, effective institutions that can adequately address war crimes, and other cases while providing equal access to justice for victims and witnesses, and other vulnerable and socially excluded groups. Particular attention is paid to the development of a national policy on transitional justice that includes defining, truth telling and fact finding mechanisms, reparations and a unified approach to remembrance and memorialisation for all victims of war, as well as the development of a reconciliation process.
Improved safety and security across the country is stimulated through community policing initiatives, security forums, accelerated mine action, the reduction of military ammunition stockpiles and improvement of storage sites, including technical support to the Government’s ordnance factories and job creation, as well as the prevention of gender based violence. Of particular importance for BiH, and the region as a whole, is the support UNDP provides to the weapons collection campaign and the reduction of illicit weapons in civilian possession, as well as to enhancing institutional capacities through its assistance to the Co-ordination Board for Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and the SALW Strategy (2013-2016).
Additionally, the Justice and Security Sector provides technical support to increase Disaster Risk Reduction capacity at all levels and develops effective co-operation mechanisms to both reduce the risks of natural and man-made disasters and to ensure an effective response when necessary.