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25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement, 14 December 1995
Video Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


10 December 2020

Today, as we mark Human Rights Day across the world, I join the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in commemorating 25 years of peace in their country.

As we face the devastation of the COVID19 pandemic, it is critical that we redouble our efforts to ensure and protect the human rights of every member of society and ensure that no one is left behind.  Together, by standing up for each other’s human rights, we can build back better.

At the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bosnia and Herzegovina has reaffirmed to uphold the fundamental rights of all its people, including by eliminating discrimination against minorities and those who are most vulnerable and marginalised, in all parts of their lives.  This includes all economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights.

I therefore call for renewed efforts to support the implementation of the four key decisions of the European Court of Human Rights that will address profound and long-standing human rights shortcomings.

Greater respect for human rights and justice also opens the path to lasting reconciliation. I have seen this in my own country, and in many other countries around the world.

People everywhere want their rights to be upheld.

Through the United Nations peacebuilding program, Dialogue for the Future – which my Office supports – young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina have communicated their shared hopes, priorities and aspirations.

They want – and deserve –transparent and accountable institutions.

They want justice. They want an end to discrimination and corruption.

They want decision-making that is focused on the people's real needs and aspirations. They want to be safe.

I welcome the recent joint statement of the Presidency which commits to the creation of  “a society tailored to all its peoples and citizens, especially young people.”

As Bosnia and Herzegovina moves toward the European Union, I encourage its leaders to turn the page on rhetoric and policies of division and move toward an inclusive and democratic future, based on human rights.

There is no place on this path for the glorification of war criminals; revisionist narratives and hate speech; and the denial of war crimes and genocide. 

Rather, let us support all survivors with their healing and build bridges between communities to achieve a society where all can enjoy peace and be treated with respect and dignity.

The United Nations and the UN Human Rights Office will work hand in hand with Bosnia-Herzegovina’s people and institutions for a more peaceful and more resilient future.