Ethnic tensions and a multi-layered governance structure remain significant obstacles to development. Continued U.S. engagement is necessary for long-term stability and development, with a focus on improved governance and rule of law, increased economic opportunity, and the empowerment of women and youth. To date, the U.S. government, primarily through USAID, has provided more than $2 billion in assistance to support democratic, social, and economic progress in BiH and to advance the country toward its goal of EU membership.
Since 1995, the U.S. Government, primarily through USAID, has provided $2 billion in assistance to support democratic, social, and economic progress in BiH and to advance the country toward its goal of EU membership. Much of that investment was focused on post-war reconstruction and the establishment of government institutions. Today, USAID focuses on improving the rule of law and fight against corruption, boosting the private sector, and improving inter-ethnic relations.
DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE
Building Accountable Institutions
USAID helps BiH build more functional and accountable institutions that meet citizens’ needs. A main focus is rule of law, where USAID helps prosecutors and judges tackle corruption and strengthens the organizational capacity of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council. USAID also assists BiH parliamentary bodies and political parties to develop, draft, advocate, and implement legislation that is more responsive and accountable to their constituents. USAID also engages in the media sector, supporting local outlets to generate high-quality content, transition effectively to electronic media platforms, and secure legal protection for journalists.
Encouraging Civic Activism
USAID strengthens the role and capacity of civil society organizations to increase citizen participation in political and social decision-making. This includes increasing public pressure to implement anti-corruption reforms required for Euro-Atlantic integration and supporting activities of local organizations that advocate for the rights and dignity of under-represented groups and minorities.
Conflicting historical and political narratives concerning the 1992-1995 war continue to define the perceptions and attitudes of people at every age and level of society in BiH. To build trust across communities and at the national level, USAID’s reconciliation programs engage citizens from all walks of life—political, government, religious, and education officials, as well as youth, women, war victim associations, and civil society groups—and provide opportunities for these BiH leaders and citizens to challenge their own beliefs and then start transforming their communities.
USAID’s economic development programs support private sector growth and increased access to EU and regional markets. USAID provides technical assistance, training, and grants to small and medium-sized enterprises of targeted sectors in the economy—IT outsourcing, wood and metal processing, and tourism—to increase productivity, improve quality, and strengthen the technical/vocational capacity of staff. One USAID initiative is working to mobilize BiH’s large diaspora community to invest capital and transfer expertise to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Loan guarantee programs with several commercial banks are helping unlock much-needed financial capital.
Promoting a Better Business Environment
USAID assists BiH authorities in adopting and implementing EU and international standards, including those in product quality and food safety, which are necessary for Bosnian-made goods to enter foreign markets. USAID continues to support financial sector stability by helping the Central Bank of BiH and entity banking agencies implement sound banking supervision and develop policies that promote private sector lending. USAID has assisted BiH to establish a more transparent, modern system of direct taxation and collection of social benefits to create a more business-friendly environment. USAID also promotes energy efficiency and improves energy policy to help BiH to increase competition and maximize its potential as a net energy exporter.