I hereby swear that I will conscientiously perform my duty, respect the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), implement the General Framework Agreement for Peace and its annexes in their entirety, protect and promote human rights and basic freedoms, and take care of the interests and equality of all peoples and citizens.
This is the oath taken by the three members of the Presidency of BiH. A Bosniak and a Croat are elected on the territory of the entity Federation of BiH (FBiH), and a Serb is elected from the entity Republika Srpska (RS).
The oath taken by the members of the Presidency of BiH, upon assuming office, is a formal act. Violation of the oath has neither legal nor political sanctions.
Who broke the oath?
Milorad Dodik has served as a member of the BiH Presidency for the past four years. He took the Presidential oath in 2018 and has violated it several times to date.
During his mandate, Dodik initiated the transfer of competencies from the state of BiH to the level of the RS in the areas of defense, justice, and indirect taxes, which the Constitutional Court of BiH declared unconstitutional, revoking the decisions of the National Assembly of the RS (NARS).
Is there a legal dimension to violating the presidential oath?
In October 2021, Aljosa Campara, Minister of Internal Affairs of the FBiH, submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Court of BiH in which he requested that the member of the Presidency, Milorad Dodik, be declared temporarily or permanently incapable of performing his duties.
In the appeal, he stated that Dodik’s announcements about derogating the jurisdiction of the state of BiH ”have all the elements of a planned and targeted attack on the constitutional and legal order of BiH”, and that they show that he is ”acting unconstitutionally”.
He brought this into connection with the oath that Dodik took when assuming office, namely that he would respect the Constitution of BiH and implement the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BiH in its entirety.
Moreover, in his appeal, Campara referred to the Election Law of BiH, which stipulates that the Constitutional Court of BiH can declare a member of the Presidency temporarily or permanently incapable of performing his duties. However, at the end of 2021, the Constitutional Court declared itself incompetent for this issue, stating that it derives its powers exclusively from the Constitution and not from lower laws.
Furthermore, Harun Iseric, senior assistant at the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo in the field of administrative law and administration, says that there is no sanction for violating the oath given by members of the BiH Presidency.
He explains that there are inter-institutional mechanisms of parliamentary control to investigate possible violations of the oath, but that the oath is ”a soft or non-existent right because its violation cannot be punished”.
The Serbian member of the BiH Presidency is first sworn in before the NARS
A member of the BiH Presidency from the RS has the possibility (but not the obligation) to take the oath before the NARS, which is regulated by the NARS Rules of Procedure. The same possibility is available to the representatives of the state parliament who were elected in this BiH entity.
The text of the entity oath reads: ”I swear that I will fulfill my duties conscientiously and responsibly, keep state secrets, defend and represent the interests of the people and citizens of the RS, honorably adhere to the Constitution and laws of BiH, and the RS.”
This oath was pronounced by Zeljka Cvijanovic at the constituent session of the NARS yesterday.
In Sarajevo yesterday, all three members of the eighth convocation of the Presidency of BiH were sworn in.
The first convocation was inaugurated in 1996, and to date, a total of 20 people have been elected to this highest executive office, Radio Slobodna Evropa reports.