- Governance: Republic
- Capital: Sarajevo
- Population: 3.8 million
- Religion: Islam, serbian orthodox, roman catholic christianity
- Language: Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian
- Location: Balkans, Europe
- Democracy index: Partly free, 55/100
The multi-ethnic country, Bosnia, is housing both Bosnians, Serbs and Croats. Bosnia has not only one, but three official languages. As a result of great religious diversity, Muslims, orthodox and catholic Christians, Jews and Roma have continued to live together for hundreds of years. Therefore, the cityscape is characterized by not only mosques, but also by catholic and orthodox churches. Bosnia also has an excellent kitchen with flavours from both roman, ottoman and central-European food-traditions.
A bloody civil war in the 1990’s was terminated with the signing of a peace agreement in Dayton, US in 1995. The Dayton-agreement provides the legal basis for today’s Bosnia. The agreement regulates all aspects of the peace process and was signed by the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This agreement has led to peace on Bosnian ground for over 20 years. Nevertheless, it is responsible for Bosnia having 13 parliaments, 700 parliamentarians and a large administration that is not functional. The agreement complicates the development of democratic processes, respect for human rights and reconciliation.
It is also written in the peace agreement, that the country’s three largest ethnic groups must be equally represented in a triple presidency. Therefore, the presidents represent the Serbs, the Croats and the Bosnians. In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights stated that the Bosnian constitution was in violation of human rights. The rational for judgement given by the court was, that in order to become president, a person needed to belong to one of the three ethnic groups, thus preventing the free and fair execution of elections.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) has been engaged in Bosnia-Herzegovina since 1995 with judicial settlement, increasing respect for human rights, education and peace building. We cooperate with a number of local organisations and institutions, amongst other the Bosnian Helsinki Committee and the organisation Republika Srpska, in addition to a variety of universities.
Peace education, focusing on peaceful conflict management, human rights and multicultural understanding, is a priority task. Over 50 human rights schools that go beyond nine days have been organized. In addition to peace building, the focus will be on the rights of young people and vulnerable groups in society, such as the LGBTI-community.
Time was over for the kingdom of Bosnia when it was conquered by the Ottomans in around the 1500‘s. However, the national identity continued to live in what became a Bosnian province. This was unique among the oppressed countries in the Balkans. Nonetheless, the composition of the Bosnian population began changing over time due to Ottoman conquests, wars, emigrations and epidemics.
Bosnia was again occupied in 1878 – this time by Austria-Hungary. Bosnia was part of this union for 40 years until it became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which was named Yugoslavia from 1929). After the second world war, Bosnia remained an independent republic until the solution of Yugoslavia in 1992. A civil war broke out the same year that Bosnia declared its independence. The Serbs, Bosnians and Croats fought until 1995, when the war was concluded with the peace treaty signed in Dayton, Canada.
- 1463: Becomes part of the Ottoman Empire
- 1878: Bosnia becomes part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire after the Berlin congress
- 1914: The murder of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo trigger the first world war
- 1918: Bosnia becomes part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia)
- 1941-1945: Bosnia is a central force against fascism during world war two
- 1984: Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo
- 1992: Yugoslavia is dissolved, Bosnia declares its independence
- 1992: The civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina breaks out
- 1993: The Court of War Crimes in the former Yugoslavia was established
- 1995: The genocide of Srebrenica
- 1995: The Dayton Peace Agreement is signed