Bosnia and Herzegovina celebrates 30 years since joining the UN with a solemn ceremony in parliament and #ImagineChange Festival
27 May 2022
The flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has been waving in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York for thirty years.
The celebration to mark the thirty-year anniversary of Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession to the United Nations began last week with a formal programme at the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and continued with the second edition of the UN's #ImagineChange Festival at the Square of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Trg BiH).
During the ceremony keynote speakers looked back on some of the key milestones, actions and activities achieved under the UN-BiH 2021-2025 Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, as well as reflecting on the significance of the 30th jubilee anniversary.
‘We entered the world stage on May 22, 1992, with the UN Resolution 757, and we have had an intensive and meaningful relationship with the UN and its agencies ever since’ the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, HE Šefik Džaferović said at the opening.
He went on to outline some of the main ways Bosnia and Herzegovina has engaged with the United Nations over the past thirty years, including its experience during conflict and post-conflict situations.
‘BiH has remained, for a country of its size and foreign policy capacity, a very visible, very committed, and active member of the UN. One part of these activities continues to relate to cooperation with the UN and UN agencies in the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
The second part of our diplomatic activities is dedicated to sharing experiences of conflict and post-conflict situations. In the UN environment, I can convey this firsthand, it is especially appreciated that BiH has moved from a country with the presence of international military forces, to a state participating in peacekeeping missions, in less than ten years since the end of the war.’
UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ingrid Macdonald also addressed the audience at the ceremony in Sarajevo.
‘On behalf of the United Nations, I would like to thank the people and authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina for all that they have contributed to the United Nations and the multilateral system over this time.’
The Resident Coordinator reflected on the contributions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to UN peacekeeping; its membership in the UN bodies and committees; and its time as a non-permanent member of the Security Council as well as its role in translating global commitments of Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Action into local and country-wide action.
‘When we work together, we have the tools to build a greener, fairer, and more inclusive Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United Nations remains committed to supporting people and leaders in shaping the peaceful and prosperous future they Imagine and work on to achieve, for the benefit of all people across the country – so that no one is left behind.’
On this 30th anniversary year, BiH reflected on its efforts to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially Climate Action (SDG 13), Peace, justice, and strong institutions (SDG 16) and Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17). During the ceremony recent efforts in the field of climate action and green policy were presented by Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the BiH Parliament, and the Green Club of the House of Representatives, as well as youth activists.
‘Despite the limited capacities and great challenges ahead, I believe that in the coming years Bosnia and Herzegovina will be among the leaders in regional and international action in the fight against climate change. This is not only a right, but also a smart decision’, saidSafet Softić, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the BiH Parliament House of Representatives.
From a youth perspective as well, climate action has become an increasingly important focus of BiH’s engagement at the UN as Anastasia Đorđa Bosančić and Armela Mehdin, youth representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovinaat last year's COP26 conference in Glasgow explained.
‘We are grateful to the United Nations for the opportunity to represent at COP26, because we came back inspired and ready to contribute to the climate action in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We invite everyone to more active cooperation with international organizations and institutions that are really trying to make this topic a priority in public discourse. We invite you to hear our voice - the voice of young people and to continue to respect and support our ideas. Small steps have already been made, but now is the time for a big step forward.'
The ceremony concluded with speeches from current and former diplomatic representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina Ambassadors Sven Alkalaj, Miloš Prica, Mirsada Čolaković and Ivan Barbalić, who shared their experiences of working at the United Nations over the last 30 years. They emphasized the progress the country has made, pointing out the milestone mandate as a non-permanent member of the Security Council from 2010-2011.
The second iteration of the #ImagineChange Festival, which took place after the official anniversary ceremony in Sarajevo, showcased the work that different UN partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina are doing to bring about positive change to their local communities, including in the fields of climate action, cultural heritage and the arts. The Festival celebrated the spirit of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship as well as promoting the principles of equality and diversity.
The exhibition included a Fashion Corner set up by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) featuring ‘No Nation Fashion’; clothing and accessories designed by people on the move. The Festival also included exhibits by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Centre for Women and Girls, the IT Girls Initiative as well as performances from local theaters and the RockSolid band from Birač.