FACT SHEET: Engaging Civil Society in Constitutional Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Project Snapshot
Total Funding:  $1,088,346
Start Date:  February 2011
End Date:  June 2014
Implementing Partner:  Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG)
 
The Challenge
The constitution in BiH is not in accordance with the requirements for EU membership.  The EU has pointed to institutional overlap and inefficiency, and a weak state government that is unable to implement necessary policies or protect the rights of all its citizens.  So far, however, talk about constitutional reform has been limited to a closed circle of BiH politicians and members of the international community.  Effective public participation in the reform debate is a vital element in yielding a democratic constitution that will guarantee equal rights of citizens and ensure lasting peace in BiH. 
 
Our Program
USAID's program, Engaging Civil Society in Constitutional Reform, works with civil society leaders, grassroots activists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and key stakeholders to help them develop a citizen-driven movement for BiH constitutional reform that will effectively engage government officials.  Under this program, implemented by the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), civil society leaders from all political and social groups will coordinate amongst themselves to develop proposals for constitutional reform based on common interests.  They will engage the BiH government to enact reforms that address ethnic division and promote stability in the country.  More specifically, this activity builds the capacity of civil society to: (1) coordinate with other civil society groups on the constitutional reform process; (2) develop proposals for constitutional reform based on common interests; and (3) engage the state government on issues pertaining to constitutional reform. 
 
Implementation and Results
At the outset of the program, PILPG conducted a comprehensive assessment of BiH civil society and its engagement in previous constitutional reform efforts to tailor project activities toward the BiH grassroots community.  This was followed by trainings for 15 local civil society groups.  Training topics included innovative methods for strategic communications and using new media as an advocacy tool.  Assistance provided to four local NGOs – the Forum of Citizens of Tuzla, the Association Alumni of the Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies, the Law Institute, and the Citizens' Front of the Others – helped them formulate their recommendations for constitutional changes, in compliance with the European Court of Human Rights’ 2009 decision regarding Sjedic-Finci v. BiH, and prepare presentations to government officials.  
 
 

Last updated: September 19, 2014

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