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General Information

The Office of the High Representative (OHR) is the lead civilian peace implementation agency in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement designated the High Representative to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement on behalf of the International Community. He is also tasked with co-ordinating the activities of the civilian organisations and agencies operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The internationally brokered Dayton Peace Agreement was negotiated by representatives of the parties involved in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the neighbouring Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, at US-led talks in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995. On November 21, the parties successfully concluded the negotiations, and on December 14, they signed the Dayton Peace Agreement in Paris. The Agreement is formally referred to as the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP).

The Peace Agreement established Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state comprising two Entities, each with a high degree of autonomy: the Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). The Agreement includes the State Constitution (Annex 4) and other provisions designed to build a peaceful, stable country.

The mandate of the High Representative is set out in Annex 10. It declares the High Representative the final authority in theatre to interpret the agreement on the civilian implementation of the peace settlement. The Peace Implementation Council (PIC), a group of 55 countries and international organisations that sponsor and direct the peace implementation process, has subsequently elaborated on his mandate. The High Representative has no authority over the international military force (EUFOR/NATO).

The Steering Board of the PIC nominates the High Representative. The United Nations Security Council, which approved the Dayton Peace Agreement and the deployment of international troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina, then endorses the nomination.

The current High Representative is Valentin Inzko, he is the seventh High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the former Prime Minister of Sweden and the European Union’s Special Negotiator at the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Carl Bildt (December 1995 - June 1997). He was succeeded by the former Spanish Secretary of State for European Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Westendorp (June 1997 - July 1999). Carlos Westendorp was succeeded by the former EU Chief Negotiator at the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet, Wolfgang Petritsch (August 1999 - May 2002).Wolfgang Petritsch was succeeded by the former Leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrat Party, Paddy Ashdown (27 May 2002 - 31 January 2006). The previous German Federal Minister Christian Schwarz-Schilling (01 February 2006 - 31 June 2007) succeeded Paddy Ashdown. Miroslav Lajcák (1 July 2007 - 26 March 2009), a Slovak diplomat and later Foreign Minister of Slovakia, succeeded Christian Schwarz-Schilling.

The Mandate of the OHR

Article II of Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement directs the High Representative to:

  • Monitor the implementation of the peace settlement;
  • Maintain close contact with the parties to the Agreement, to promote their full compliance with all civilian aspects of the Agreement;
  • Co-ordinate the activities of the civilian organisations and agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure the efficient implementation of the civilian aspects of the peace settlement. The High Representative shall respect their autonomy within their spheres of operation while as necessary giving general guidance to them about the impact of their activities on the implementation of the peace settlement;
  • Facilitate, as the High Representative judges necessary, the resolution of any difficulties arising in connection with civilian implementation;
  • Participate in meetings of donor organisations;
  • Report periodically on progress to the United Nations, European Union, United States, Russian Federation and other interested governments, parties and organisations;
  • Provide guidance to the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF).

The OHR’s involvement in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political life has changed and developed according to its mandate and focus in line with the requirements of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC). At the beginning of the peace process, the High Representative chaired a number of joint bodies that brought together representatives of the wartime parties and took care of the initial requirements of the peace process. The State and Entity Institutions envisaged in the Constitution were set up after the first post-Dayton elections in September 1996, but it took some time before they started meeting regularly. One of the OHR’s key tasks is to ensure that the institutions function effectively and in a responsible manner.
In the economic field, the reconstruction phase, financed under a $5.1 billion World Bank/European Commission program, was largely completed in the years immediately after the war; the emphasis now is on reforms that ensure fiscal and economic stability.
The OHR has also focused on establishing the rule of law, which is the starting point and an essential requirement for progress in all the other areas of reform.
Among the most important milestones in the peace implementation process was the PIC Conference in Bonn in December 1997. Elaborating on Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the PIC requested the High Representative to remove from office public officials who violate legal commitments and the Dayton Peace Agreement, and to impose laws as he sees fit if Bosnia and Herzegovina’s legislative bodies fail to do so.
Nonetheless, the governing principle of the OHR’s engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the concept of domestic responsibility. This concept calls on the officials and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take responsibility for the peace process and the problems that their country faces.

The OHR and the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In February 2002, the European Union’s General Affairs Council (GAC) appointed the High Representative as the EU’s Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The “double-hatting” of High Representative and EU Special Representative was envisaged as a provisional arrangement during which the political focus in Bosnia and Herzegovina would shift from Dayton implementation to the EU integration process.

Between 2002 and 2011 four High Representatives served simultaneously as EU Special Representative. However, instead of the steady consensus-based political progress that had been hoped for during this period, Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced an extended period of political gridlock. The European integration process was interrupted and the High Representative was obliged to intervene in order to prevent challenges to the Dayton settlement.

Meanwhile, a logical consequence of changes in the European Union’s internal structure and external representation following the 2009 Lisbon Treaty was to bring together the European Commission Delegation and the EU Special Representative’s Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This also reflected the European Union’s decision to strengthen its policy and presence in the country through a single reinforced Union representative. In July 2011, Peter Sorensen was appointed as EU Special Representative to serve concurrently as Head of the EU Delegation, effective from 1 September 2011. This initiative was welcomed by the incumbent EU Special Representative, Valentin Inzko, as an important and timely contribution to the EU’s capacity to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European integration process. Dr Inzko continued in his role as High Representative.

The EU’s further strengthening of its engagement in BiH and the nomination of Peter Sorensen as the Head of the EU Delegation and EUSR in BiH has allowed the High Representative to remain fully focused on implementation of civilian aspects of the Peace Settlement by carrying out tasks given to him under relevant resolutions of the UNSC and Annex 10 to the GFAP.

The OHR and the EU Office work closely in order to carry out their separate but complementary roles, whereby it belongs to the High Representative to coordinate the activities of the civilian organizations and agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure the efficient implementation of the civilian aspects of the peace settlement.

OHR Organisational Chart

OHR Organisational Chart

OHR Offices and Departments

The OHR’s headquarters are in Sarajevo. The High Representative, his Principal Deputy and their cabinets are all based here. In addition, the Sarajevo Office accommodates the Political, Legal, Resources Departments and the Press Office.


Status, Staff and Funding of the OHR

Under Annex 10 of the GFAP, the OHR has the status of a diplomatic mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is made up of diplomats seconded by the governments of the PIC countries, international staff hired directly, and national staff from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since July 2013, the OHR employs 18 internationals (3 seconded, 9 contractors and 6 temporary contracted staff) and 101 nationals (100 contractors and 1 temporary contracted staff).

Since September 2002, all advertised vacancies at the OHR have been open to BiH citizens. Furthermore, where a BiH citizen and a foreign citizen applying for the same post are considered to be of equal merit, qualification and experience, the BiH applicant will be preferred.

The OHR is funded by the PIC. Its budget in 2014/2015 is 6,497 million Euros. Contributions to the OHR budget break down as follows: EU 53%, USA 22%, Japan 10%, Russia 4%, Canada 3.03 %, OIC 2.5%, others: 5.47%.

The Peace Implementation Council and its Steering Board

Following the successful negotiation of the Dayton Peace Agreement in November 1995, a Peace Implementation Conference was held in London on December 8-9, 1995, to mobilise international support for the Agreement. The meeting resulted in the establishment of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC).

The PIC comprises 55 countries and agencies that support the peace process in many different ways – by assisting financially, providing troops for EUFOR, or directly running operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is also a fluctuating number of observers.

Since the London Conference, the PIC has come together at the ministerial level another five times to review progress and define the goals of peace implementation for the coming period: in June 1996 in Florence; in December 1996 for a second time in London; in December 1997 in Bonn; in December 1998 in Madrid, and in May 2000 in Brussels.

PIC Members and Participants: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China (resigned in May 2000), Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now the republics of Serbia and Montenegro), Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America; the High Representative, Brcko Arbitration Panel (dissolved in 1999 after the Final Award was issued), Council of Europe, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Commission, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), International Monetary Fund (IMF), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), United Nations (UN), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Transitional Administration of Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES; disbanded in January 1998) and the World Bank.

PIC Observers to date: Australia, Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Investment Bank (EIB), Estonia, Holy See, Human Rights Ombudsperson in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Mediator for Bosnia and Herzegovina, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Liechtenstein, South Africa and the Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.

The London Peace Implementation Conference also established the Steering Board of the PIC to work under the chairmanship of the High Representative as the executive arm of the PIC.

The Steering Board members are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, the Presidency of the European Union, the European Commission, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which is represented by Turkey.

The Steering Board provides the High Representative with political guidance. In Sarajevo, the High Representative chairs regular meetings of the Ambassadors to BiH of the Steering Board members. In addition, the Steering Board meets at the level of political directors twice a year.

The Board of Principals

Following an extensive study carried out by the Office of the High Representative at the request of the Peace Implementation Council the co-ordinating structure of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina was “streamlined” in 2002 to eliminate overlapping effort and responsibilities and increase effectiveness. As part of this process a Board of Principals was established, under the chairmanship of the High Representative, to serve as the main co-ordinating body for International Community activity in BiH. The Board of Principals meets once a week in Sarajevo.

It is attended by: OHR, EUPM, UNHCR, the Delegation of the European Union to BiH, the World Bank, the IMF and the UNDP.