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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
It is time to consider the future of Brcko District. In particular, it is time to chart an exit strategy for the supervisory regime that will serve both to preserve and extend its and the
people of Brcko’s accomplishments.
The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), approved in January 2003 a Mission Implementation
Plan (MIP) submitted by High Representative Paddy Ashdown. Among its specific goals is the legal, political and financial integration of Brcko District in
the state of Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH). Both Brcko Supervisor Henry L. Clarke and the United States government have since asked the PIC Steering Board to discuss the status of the district at its meeting in June. The Supervisor is expected to
present his own MIP on that occasion.
Ownership of the divided and strategically vital Brcko municipality in north-east BiH
proved too contentious to settle at Dayton in 1995. The question was left for binding, post-war arbitration. The result, in a series of three arbitral awards between
1997 and 1999, was to establish a fully-fledged international administration separate from and more all-embracing than that of the High Representative in Sarajevo.The Final Award of March 1999 decreed that the
three wartime municipalities should be unified as a neutral and de-militarised district under the sovereignty of the state. But the district’s powers of
autonomous government derived from the entities, which were deemed to overlap in Brcko.
The first Supervisor, Robert W. Farrand, initiated the establishment of multinational institutions, the harmonisation and reform of entity laws, and the drafting of a district statute. On 8 March 2000 he proclaimed the creation of the district and promulgated its
statute. He proceeded to appoint an interim government and a 29-member
assembly. These interim authorities are still in place.
Once seen as the most likely flashpoint for any renewed warfare in BiH, Brcko has since prospered to such an extent that it is regularly and rightly invoked both as the shining example of international
stewardship in BiH and as a model for emulation by the rest of the country.
Brcko’s reforms of the civil and criminal justice systems, of education and of
municipal government have led the way in BiH. The establishment of fiscal
discipline, a sensible and effective tax regime, and a business-friendly
environment have resulted in significant foreign investment, a promising
privatisation program, and the highest average wages in the country. Success
has bred success. Those ‘cleansed’ during the war have returned in large
numbers. Displaced persons who came to Brcko have opted to stay. The
American-led supervisory regime has served to attract the disproportionately
generous donor assistance that has helped make all this possible.
though most other essential requirements of the Final Award have been or can
soon be fulfilled and it has been three years after the formation of the
district, there have been no district elections to test whether something
viable and transferable has taken root in Brcko. The last municipal poll was
six years ago, and no new vote is yet scheduled. However wise it was of the
Arbitral Tribunal to leave it to the Supervisor to decide when to call
elections, the Final Award does nonetheless require that they be held before
the Supervisor can assure either the PIC or the Tribunal that implementation is
complete and secure.
High Representative’s MIP is testimony to the fact that the ad hoc arrangements
mandated by Dayton for BiH are nearing their end. Although the
PIC’s target date of 2005 is likely to slip, it still provides a basis for
planning in Brcko. The supervisory regime in Brcko need not wind up before OHR,
but it cannot linger on thereafter. It would be useful, however, if the
Supervisor were to go first. That could provide a salutary example of the
reality of international disengagement while still leaving time for the High
Representative to ensure that the state is in fact exercising its
responsibilities towards an autonomous Brcko District.
elections should be called no later than October 2004, when the next round of
entity municipal elections is due to take place. Fear that the wrong parties
might win is an increasingly lame excuse for their deferral, especially if the
Brcko model of clean and effective multinational government is to have any
salience for the rest of BiH. In any case, by 2004 the parties in government
will have had plenty of time to win over the populace. Whether they do so or
not, it will still be possible – and advisable – for the Supervisor to stay on
for up to a year to mediate the transition.
Arbitral Tribunal reserved for itself the right to vary the Final Award should
circumstances so require. OHR’s aim to integrate Brcko District in the state
can be regarded as consonant with the Final Award, but only if the Supervisor
and the Tribunal are satisfied that such integration preserves and protects
Brcko’s powers of autonomous self-government. Integration must thus be defined
not as absorption or subordination, but as a guarantee of the district’s
constitutional status while the entities endure. This will be the best means of
ensuring that as much as possible of what has been achieved in Brcko does not
remain an isolated phenomenon of liberal colonialism, but is, instead,
‘mainstreamed’ into BiH. For this to happen, however, the PIC and OHR and the
BiH authorities will have to buy in. This report aims to show why they should.
To the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation
1. Encourage the Brcko Supervisor to move towards completing his mandate, some time after
the municipal elections.
upon the Council of Ministers to fulfil and elaborate upon their October 2002
co-operation agreement with Brcko District and in that context demonstrate
their support for and relevance to the people of the district.
Brcko's bid to become the seat of the Sava River Commission.
To the Office of the High Representative
with the Supervisor to ensure he can fulfil the Final Award while OHR is still
present to guarantee Brcko’s effective integration into the state.
that the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council respects the Final Award and
recognises the integrity of the completed reform in Brcko.
To the Supervisor of Brcko District
priorities towards handing over and bowing out.
preparations to call elections by October 2004. Avoid counterproductive efforts
to make electoral defeat of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) a principal object
of the electoral exercise.
To the United States Government
the Supervisor in finding an alternative use for Camp McGovern that
will enhance both the security of the district and the role of the state.
To the Council of Ministers
to implement the October 2002 agreement on co-operation with Brcko District and
to establish, in agreement with Brcko’s government, viable mechanisms for
regulating the district’s relationship with the state while the supervisory
regime remains in place.
the state’s interest in and relevance to Brcko residents by insisting that Croatia
permit the import of petroleum products through the district, and acting on the
Supervisor’s proposal to site an important state institution in Brcko.
To the Brcko District Government and
a serious public information campaign to acquaint district residents with the
aims and activities of the government and assembly.
Sarajevo/Brussels, 2 June 2003