Authors: Adnan Pečković & Jasmin Jašarević – Proni Centre for Youth Development

De-radicalisation and integration focused legal and policy framework report from Bosnia and Herzegovina presents various laws, policies and regulations (such as Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Combating Terrorism 2015-2020 and others) that deal with issues of radicalisation and terrorism and the effects that above mentioned regulationshaveon combating extremism and terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also shows the changes above mentioned (and other) laws, policies and regulations have undergone since terrorist attacks in U.S. in 2001. 

The report discusses the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina that originated from Dayton Peace Agreement as possibly the most controversial legal document in the context of radicalisation since it legally contributes to ethnic divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Constitution gives the power of collective identity over individual rights, which is not the practice of EU countries. 

Report shows that ethno-nationalism focused political elites utilise ideological apparatuses such as education, media and others to homogenize their “own people” and present the other as an enemy creating a tense political atmosphere. With defining constitutive peoples (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs), it also creates a sense of alienation of the others, e.g., Roma, Jews and all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who do not fell as they belong to the three constitutive peoples. 

In order to showcase how this discriminatory regulation works in practice, this report describes the case Dervo Sejdic and Jakov Finci vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina which reached the European Court of Human Rights. Dervo Sejdić and Jakov Finci have fought for their right to be elected in the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the House of the Peoples. Even today this verdict was not implemented. Roma and Jewish citizens, as well all other citizens that do not declare themselves as Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs are not entitled  to run for Bosnian presidency or House of the peoples.   

This report finds that the main push factors for radicalisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina are ethno-nationalistic political narrative, Bosnian Constitution, as a product of Dayton Peace agreement, political corruption, high unemployment (especially amongst young people) which create a sense of alienation and injustice among citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

In order to present two in-depth case studies is based on the mapping out of the regional and local counter-radicalization measures through social integration this report discusses following case studies: 

  • Strengthening Resilience of the Youth against Radicalization in the Western Balkans, regional initiative implemented by international NGO Humanity in Action. 
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina Resilience Initiative (BHRI), implemented by International Organization for Migration.

Both initiatives dealt with the issue of rising radicalism among young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and are meant to serve as activities preventing radical behaviour among young people. Through promoting shared values and social cohesion through interfaith, inter-ethnic and intercultural dialogue and supporting local activists and efforts these two initiatives have managed to establish communication and connections amongst young people from different areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina and provide them with opportunities to influence decision making on local level and give young people voice in their communities. This report discusses not only the justification, socio-economic, political and geographical context, but also fundamental traits and lessons to be learned from implemented activities during above mentioned initiatives. 

For more insights, see the REPORT >>, that provides a conceptual account on existing policies and laws addressing radicalisation, to pinpoint their most critical aspects and best practices, and to develop evidence-based policy and guidelines.