The first-ever BiH-wide Citizens’ Assembly, a deliberative body of 57 citizens who are representative of the country’s demographic groups, concluded on Sunday and made its recommendations for elimination of discrimination in BiH’s political and electoral system.
Over two weekends of intensive discussion in February, held in two different cities in BiH (Sarajevo and Teslic), randomly selected members of the public had the opportunity to learn about these issues, discuss with others who have different views, and work to find common ground. The discussion was inclusive and coordinated by independent facilitators and experts in the field of human rights, election legislation, and constitutional law. A number of stakeholders, including representatives of BiH political parties, were invited to present different perspectives so citizens would understand the issues before making recommendations. Following all this input, the members had in-depth discussions on issues of the concept of constituent peoples, ethnicity, and how these relate to the functioning of institutions. The citizens have reached recommendations on the following topics: the BiH Presidency, the House of Peoples, and combatting corruption and fraud in the election process.
The independent facilitators, who have experience with such Citizens’ Assemblies all over Europe, were deeply impressed by the Assembly members. According to the expert facilitator, Christiane Amici-Raboud, “participants embodied the spirit of the Citizens’ Assembly – openness, fairness, equality of voice, efficiency, respect and collegiality. Their level of engagement and commitment and their proactive and constructive approach was simply outstanding, once again showing what can be achieved by giving people who are not involved in politics the time and space to consider important issues.”
The Citizens’ Assembly in BiH agreed unanimously or by large majority on 17 recommendations. In the coming days, these will be publicly presented to BiH political institutions and the general public.
The process was launched and supported throughout by the European Union, with the support of the United States Embassy, and the OSCE Mission to BiH. We strongly encourage the BiH Parliament to factor the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly into its deliberations.