Joint Statement by the EUD/EUSR in BiH, the U.S Embassy and the OSCE Mission to BiH on the Law on the Prevention of Conflict of Interest in BiH Institutions

The U.S. Embassy, EU Delegation/EU Special Representative in BiH and the OSCE Mission to BiH call on all relevant authorities to ensure the draft Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in BiH is aligned with international standards, resulting in a robust system for preventing conflict of interest among public officials.

The prevention of conflict of interest for public officials is a key tool in the fight against corruption. Efforts in this field are essential parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU integration process and key to helping restore citizen confidence in public officials. The Opinion of the European Commission on the application of BiH for EU membership clearly states that adoption and implementation of legislation on the prevention of conflict of interest in line with international standards and GRECO recommendations is one of the 14 key priorities for BiH.

The BiH Ministry of Justice was tasked by the BiH House of Representatives in January 2020 with producing draft conflict of interest legislation to submit to the Council of Ministers within 90 days. The deadline has long expired.

The draft Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in BiH Institutions that the Ministry of Justice submitted for public consultation in December 2020 would do little to improve the mechanisms for preventing conflict of interest. It does not meet international standards and does not implement GRECO recommendations necessary to prevent corruption. Concerted efforts to draft a law lacking strong provisions indicates a lack of willingness by political actors to make the system of prevention of conflict of interest operational.

The U.S. Embassy, EU Delegation/Special Representative and OSCE Mission in BiH have repeatedly underlined the urgent need for reform, and further delay in the adoption of this important law can only be interpreted as failure to move forward on one the 14 key priorities. The adoption of this law is non-negotiable.

Progress is key not only to BiH’s advancement on its EU path, but also to beginning to restore citizens trust in public officials and institutions and in the belief that public officials work not for themselves, but for the benefit of the country and its citizens.