22nd Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
Monitoring of local and regional democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Strasbourg, 22.03.2012 – On 22 March 2012, at its 22nd Session, the Congress debated the situation of local and regional democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country is currently conducting constitutional reform which would bring it into line with the European Charter of Local Self-Government, and many sectors, such as education, transport and roads are now being managed in a much less centralised way. The recommendation adopted at the end of the debate calls on the entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to draw up reform plans on devolution and implement in practice the principles set out in the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
The Congress stresses the need to continue the current discussions on revising the constitution of the Republika Srpska in order to grant special status to the city of Banja Luka in the Republika Srpska and assign it appropriate powers and resources. It also calls on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to revise without delay the statute of the city of Mostar, and the electoral law of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina so as to bring them into line with the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
The two rapporteurs, Beat Hirs (Switzerland, ILDG) and Jean-Marie Belliard (France, EPP), who visited the country in April and December 2011, welcomed the passing on 3 February 2012, of the Law on the Population Census and urged the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to carry out this census as soon as possible. The country’s complex structure, the fact that there has been no population census since 1991 and the lack of clarity in the definition of responsibilities are still hampering the development of local self-government. The rapporteurs also noted the commitment of Bosnia and Herzegovina to engage in a devolution process, but pointed to several obstacles which would have to be overcome before this could be achieved. In addition to issues of powers, the local authorities, which are partly VAT-funded, lack resources and appropriate legislation at local level on real estate. The Congress offers its assistance and expertise to help Bosnia and Herzegovina in achieving its objectives to ensure that local and regional self-government is brought, concretely, closer into line with the principles set out in the Charter.