Since the Bosnian war ended in November 1995 with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia has been under international protectorate. The Office of the High Representative, an ad hoc international institution responsible for overseeing implementation of civilian aspects of the Dayton accord, has significant authority over the decisions made by Bosnian politicians. Additionally, NATO and then EU-led international forces were deployed as peacekeepers; elections were overseen by the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and millions of international aid has gone to rebuilding and reforming the state.
This is about to change. The mandate and office of the High Representative is scheduled to close on June 30, 2009, at which point a special European representative will be the main international presence. Many core political issues remain unresolved. The final status of the Brcko District, a city in northern Bosnia that has a special status in neither the Serb Republic nor the Bosnian Federation, is unsettled. Nationalist political parties remain strong. Talk of changing the constitution established at Dayton to build a stronger federal state, as envisioned by leading Bosniak politicians, has alienated Serbian politicians who want to maintain powers as separate entities.
Life for ordinary civilians has improved in terms of stability and security, but the economic situation is extremely difficult. It is estimated that the unemployment rate is 45%.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is currently conducting several high-level trials regarding crimes committed at Srebrenica, in Kosovo, and during the Croatian “Operation Storm,” among other cases. The case against leading Bosnian Serb politician, Radovan Karadzic, charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, is in the pre-trial stage. Remaining at large is General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader. The Tribunal is scheduled to finish first-instance trials by 2010 and close its Appeals Court by 2011.