Russia calls for UN vote to scrap Bosnia peace envoy job

By: AFP      Published: 11:47 AM, 20 Jul, 2021
Russia calls for UN vote to scrap Bosnia peace envoy job
File photo of a Bosnian cemetry.

Russia has asked the UN Security Council to vote Thursday on its proposal to abolish the post of International High Representative for Bosnia, and the office that goes with it, by July 2022, diplomats told AFP. 

The vote was requested for Thursday afternoon, said one of the diplomats on condition of anonymity. 

It is now up to France, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, to confirm the vote.

The subject has been controversial for years and has come back on the radar in recent weeks. It pits Russia against the West, and in particular against Germany, which is due to have a former minister take up the post on August 1.

Submitted to the Security Council last week, the Russian draft resolution, co-sponsored by China, "welcomes and agrees" to the designation of German politician Christian Schmidt as successor to current high representative Valentin Inzko of Austria. 

But the draft, obtained by AFP, goes on to say that it "supports the appointment of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (...) until 31 July 2022 with closure of the Office of the High Representative."

According to Western diplomats, Moscow and Beijing may not garner the minimum nine out of 15 votes necessary to approve the resolution, without one of the five permanent members of the council resorting to their veto power to block it. 

The five permanent members are Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain. 

At the end of June, Russia said it "categorically refused" the appointment of Schmidt, a former German minister of agriculture. 

The United States replied that the appointment was a "closed matter" and that the UN had nothing to do with the appointment of the High Representative, which is decided by the Peace Implementation Council of the 1995 Dayton agreement, which is made up of 55 countries. 

After 12 years as High Representative, Inzko, who was rejected by Russia over what it saw as bias against the Bosnian Serbs, resigned from his post. 

The job has no term limits attached to it.  According to a Western diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity, Russia's draft resolution has no other objective than to "undermine the institution" represented by the Office of the High Representative. 

"It is absolutely crystal clear that this does not need any kind of endorsement by the Security Council," the diplomat said.