Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

1. Post-War Society Reconstruction Project

Following the breakdown of the former state of Yugoslavia, aided and abetted by Serbia and Croatia, war broke out in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) in1992 among the three ethnic groups of Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks. By the end of the war, with the signing of the Dayton peace accord in December 1995, some 110,000 people had been killed and 1.8 million displaced.

The ongoing level of fear, anxiety, tension and mistrust among the population following the war, was a major impediment to reestablishment of commerce, communication and the normal functioning of BiH society.

CICR Involvement

CICR was contracted by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), for a four year project in BiH in 1998 to rebuild social structures in the Mostar and Banja Luka regions. The project was lead by one of CICR’s trainers, Vesna Dasovic-Markovic, who is a lawyer and a former judge in the BiH.

The project, which focused on key professions including lawyers, judges, teachers, social workers and NGOs, provided them with the know-how and skills to be able to create bridges, re-establish communication and induce healing among community, religious and business leaders of the three ethnic groups.


Outputs over the five year life of the project were:

  • Approximately 800 professionals including lawyers, judges, teachers, social workers and NGOs are skilled in resolving and managing conflicts and in creating harmonious group (including interethnic) interactions (including 42 judges and one judge from the Supreme Court of the Federation);
  • 180 people have advanced skills in facilitation (including 8 judges)
  • 130 people have advanced skills in mediation (including the President of the Association of Prosecutors of the Federation, President of the Association of Magistrates, and the Deputy Minister of Justice of the RS)
  • 15 conflict resolution trainers are certified.
  • A new law on mediation was initiated

Outcomes during and following completion of the project are:

  • Several thousand individuals resolve conflicts more effectively, including greater inter-ethnic harmony in their workplace, communities and families;
  • The establishment of an NGO, ‘Initiative M’, by 15 of the 17 trainees who participated in the first training held in Mostar.
  • Refugees and displaced persons have been successfully re-integrated back into some 25 communities as a result of the work of Initiative M.
  • NGOs, social workers, religious institutions, government ministries, sports associations and students from east and west Mostar are reintegrated,
  • Conflict resolution resource centers established in Mostar and Banja Luka provide a vehicle for maintaining involvement of alumni and reaching interested public,
  • Nine officials from the Association of Election Officers with funding from the Institute for Election Systems have advanced skills in conflict resolution.
  • The Association of Mediators of Bosnia and Herzegovina was founded
  • A new Law on Mediation Procedures was passed by parliament to encourage mediation as a first step in civil cases
  • Pilot projects on court-referred mediation were conducted in the two major civil courts in BiH, in Banja Luka and Sarajevo. (see following project)

Recent Outcomes involving CICR and a lead CICR trainer

  • In 2008, The National Consultancy on Transitional Justice was designed to determined how to deal with war crimes
  • In 2010, 40 judges and prosecutors at the state level were trained as trainers in the methodology of providing training related to war crimes, of which 20 were trained to prosecute war crimes.

2. Establishment of Court-Referred Mediation in BiH Civil Courts

The courts in BiH have been plagued by extensive case-load backlogs resulting in added stress and costs for the parties, and particularly for companies that may have millions of dollars tied up until their cases are resolved.

CICR was requested by the Ministers of Justice in both the RS and the Federation, and from the Independent Judicial Commission appointed by OHR, to introduce pre-trial mediation into their court systems. This followed from a World Bank study of the judicial system that recommended the setting up of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism in the judicial system for BiH.

CICR Involvement

From 2003 to 2005 CICR and its ADR professionals were contracted by the IFC/World Bank for $350,000 to design, implement and evaluate Pilot Projects in court-referred mediation in the two major courts in Banja Luka and Sarajevo.


Outputs over the two year life of the project:

  • Court-referred mediation procedures, regulations and forms developed;
  • Mediator training program and certification standards & process developed.
  • 70 mediators trained and certified;
  • Evaluation of the Pilot project completed
  • Manual on Court-Referred mediation, published by the IFC.
  • A new Law on Mediation Procedures was passed by parliament to encourage mediation as a first step in civil cases

Outcomes from 2004 to 2009:

  • 442 cases resolved through mediation, of which 187 were commercial
  • $37.5 million in funds and assets that had been in the courts for years have been released, $13.4 million of which involved commercial cases


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