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POINTS ON THE FURTHER AGREED BASIC PRINCIPLES

by Marshall Harris and Steven Walker

1. The Further Agreed Basic Principles, if implemented, would complete the legal dissolution of the Republic of Bosnia- Herzegovina and its constitution by replacing them with a new state with two entities, two new constitutions, a new presidency, a new parliament, and a new constitutional court.

2. Article 4 creates de facto recognition of Republika Srpska as a state by requiring it, along with the Bosnian Federation entity, to honour the international obligations of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Only states may be obligated by international commitments. If Bosnia's sovereignty is to be preserved, this article would make the federal entity responsible for ensuring that Bosnia-Herzegovina's international obligations were carried out within the two sub- entities.

3. The failure of the Further Agreed Basic Principles to provide for Bosnia's defense and protection and maintenance of its borders makes integration of the two entities de facto meaningless since these functions are essential to a unitary state. International military assistance to Bosnia would likely not be forthcoming unless there were provision for Bosnia's defense and clear lines of military authority.

4. The Republika Srpska is given full presidential and parliamentary veto power (under articles 6.1 and 6.2) over the Federation, which is ostensibly the dominant entity in the new Bosnia. This is a recipe for paralysis and the wielding of disproportionate power by the Republika Srpska.

A strong veto authority exists in the new presidency and parliament, which can be expected to be the scene of intense conflict in the new government of Bosnia. While free and fair elections can be expected to produce democratic presidency members from the Federation, it is highly likely that - in the absence of democratic rule and, concomitantly, in the continuing atmosphere of a military or police state - the Republika Srpska representatives would vote as a block.

5. With its broad mandate to decide 'all questions arising under the Constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina', the constitutional court

(under article 6.4) could easily have greater powers than the presidency and parliament.

6. By buying into the fundamental illogic of rewarding aggression and ethnic separation, the US negotiators are promoting a carve-up that is not only unjust and undemocratic, but also inconsistent in its various percentage formulae.

First, the Republika Srpska is being given a percentage of territory that is, by any known accounting, disproportionate to its population. Forty-nine percent of Bosnia's territory is ceded to the Bosnian Serb forces, but less than one million Bosnian Serbs are loyal to (or are forced to be loyal to) the Pale regime. Indeed, by some calculations, only 500,000 Bosnian Serbs now reside in Serb- controlled territory. Even if the one million figure is used, one-quarter of Bosnia's pre-war population of 4.4 million is to be given one-half of its territory.

More troubling, the Bosnian Serb forces are being given disproportionate representation in the central government (under articles 6.1 and 6.2). Again, even if every ethnic Serb refugee from Bosnia returns to the Republika Srpska, its electorate would constitute only one quarter of Bosnia's total population. Yet the Republika Srpska is given a one-third voice - or, with the above-mentioned veto powers, an equal or even majority voice -in the central government.

The Republika Srpska's one-third voice in the new Bosnia would be consistent as a percentage formula only if the Western military enforcers of the new agreement intend to purge the Federation of its ethnic Serbs (an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 persons) and resettle them in the Republika Srpska. Only then would the Republika Srpska's population constitute one-third of the new Bosnia.

7. As with the Geneva agreement, the Further Agreed Basic Principles (under article 5.1) abridge refugees' inalienable rights by allowing for compensation instead of the right to return. Rather than compromising refugees' rights, the Principles should provide fully for refugees' rights to return to their homes and repossess their real estate and other property.

8. The Principles increase the role of the UN and NATO (military enforcement of the agreement) and the OSCE (involvement in internal affairs to determine whether elections can take place, etc) in Bosnia, without providing for clear terms for an end to these involvements or a clear path to re-establish Bosnia's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

9. All of these points will likely to be entirely academic since the US initiative does not provide for military arrangements to dislodge the Bosnia Serb forces' hold over Republika Srpska territory. Unless ultra-nationalist control is removed, the constitutional arrangements outlined in the Further Agreed Basic Principles and the Geneva Agreement will most likely never be effected. For example, the Republika Srpska could simply never create 'social conditions' to permit free and democratic elections (article 5).

Necessary items omitted from Further Agreed Basic Principle:

-- any mention of the 'Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina';

-- any mention of 'free and fair elections';

-- provisions for common defense and protection and maintenance of the country's borders; and

-- provision for the apprehension and arrest of indicted war criminals.

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