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Diplomacy in Action

FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
FY 2008 U.S. Government Assistance to and Cooperative Activities with Central and Eastern Europe


FY 2008 Foreign Assistance Goals

United States Government (USG) assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) aimed to facilitate BiH’s transformation from a source of regional instability to a peaceful, democratic, multiethnic state that is integrated into Euro-Atlantic institutions. A positive development in this direction occurred when BiH signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union (EU) in June 2008. USG programs promoted the emergence of a country that is at peace with its neighbors, capable of combating crime, democratically governed, tolerant, and growing economically. In FY 2008, programs to promote peace and security aimed to strengthen the ongoing processes of defense and law enforcement reform. USG assistance to promote democratic governance aimed to strengthen rule of law by helping consolidate judicial system reforms. In the area of economic growth, USG programs sought to improve private-sector competitiveness and energy sector reforms.

Total FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $33.26m*

FY 2008 Areas of Focus

P&S: Peace and Security

GJD: Governing Justly and Democratically

EG: Economic Growth

XCPS: Cross-Cutting Program Support
Date: 01/01/2009 Description: Bosnia and Herzegovina: Total FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $33.26m ,  Peace and Security=$10.24m 31% , Governing Justly and Democratically=$13.79m, 41% , Economic Growth=$7.39m, 22% , Cross-Cutting Program Support=$1.84m, 6%. State Dept Photo

(*Foreign Operations appropriated assistance, excluding centrally managed Foreign Operations funds that are not budgeted for specific countries.)

Highlights of FY 2008 Performance by Area of Focus

Peace and Security

In FY 2008, USG assistance:

  • Promoted defense reform to support BiH’s goal to join NATO. USG support helped BiH defense units to meet NATO standards, and contributed to BiH`s invitation to join an Intensified Dialogue Agreement with NATO this year. Ministry of Defense and Joint Staff training informed senior leaders on issues most pertinent to defense reform. USG programs also helped train and equip those units that might be used in peacekeeping operations. A mobile training team was embedded in the Explosive Ordnance Destruction (EOD) unit, raising its capacity to meet NATO standards. The EOD unit has deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom eight times and is the unit most capable and most prepared for immediate deployments in coalition operations.

  • Provided a broad spectrum of training, equipment and advisory services to support border security, anti-terrorism and anti-WMD efforts in BiH, including broad and high-level BiH Government participation. The USG helped the relatively new State Border Police develop budget planning capacity and a Border Police National Strategy necessary for EU integration. Assistance to the Foreigners Affairs Service helped develop a new secure visa regime for BiH and develop policies and procedures for a new alien detention center. The USG also provided specific training to help BiH police prevent and investigate terrorism, including a fraudulent document class and post blast training.

  • Designed a detailed Book of Rules for Evidence with the assistance of local and international counterparts. The new provisions institutionalize a structure for evidence processing, storing and disposal reflecting the new Criminal Procedure Code and will be used by law enforcement agencies across BiH.

  • Continued engagement in the law enforcement effort against terrorism and organized crime. This is yielding more arrests, larger quantity drugs seizures and the prosecution of individuals/organizations supporting terrorism. Greater focus has been placed on developing capabilities, policies, and procedures for the investigation of financial crimes and tax fraud.

  • Highlighted the importance of tax investigations in the overall law enforcement effort with Federation and Republika Srpska (RS) entity and Brcko District Tax Administrations. Programs assisted in the preparation of policies and procedures for conducting and prosecuting criminal tax violations and prepared a handbook on investigative procedures for use by the various tax agencies.

Governing Justly and Democratically

In FY 2008, USG assistance:

  • Improved local governance and increased citizen’s satisfaction with municipal service delivery from 69 to 84 percent. Fifty-six partner municipalities increased their transparency and improved information flow within municipal structures and with local citizens. USG assistance helped municipalities to improve their processes for budgeting and finance, capital budgeting, revenue allocation, and engineering, zoning, and permitting, including training over 1500 individuals in municipal management skills. On average, municipal budgets were increased by 27 percent in 2008, and non-tax revenues collected directly by municipalities increased by 12 percent.

  • Increased the openness and accountability of BiH’s state and entity parliaments through seven Open Parliament Days for business, civil society, and the public, and internship programs for youth. USG work with civil society on state-wide advocacy and watchdog activities has facilitated greater citizen involvement in BiH government decisions and strategic planning, as required by the SAA, thus moving the country further towards the goal of EU accession.

  • Helped to strengthen the BiH judicial system in several ways, including providing training to over 1200 justice sector professionals in the last year. USG programs assisted the State Ministry of Justice and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) by developing organizational procedures and building core capabilities for managing and overseeing the operations of courts and prosecutors around the country. Special focus was given to preparing for the implementation of the recently-adopted Justice Sector Reform Strategy. In addition, with USG assistance, the model courts program modernized operations in half the courts in BiH, and the HJPC is planning to extend this program to the remaining courts.

  • Helped bring about the first-ever State Court genocide convictions, with sentences for seven defendants ranging from 38-42 years. In addition, 30 indictments for war crimes were filed against 43 persons, and several leading political figures were also successfully prosecuted for corruption as a result of USG assistance programs. The Task Force to combat Trafficking in Human Beings and Organized Illegal Immigration assisted the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH in bringing an indictment against six individuals for human trafficking. USG assistance also led to the development of case selection criteria, helping to depoliticize the process of case selection.

  • Strengthened the NGO sector through technical assistance and grants. Sixty-eight local NGOs received grants to support advocacy and watchdog activities, as well as community initiatives. Twenty-five mayors signed local agreements committing these municipalities to long-term cooperation with civil society. To implement successfully these local cooperation agreements, 160 NGO and municipal representatives received technical assistance.

  • Contributed to post-conflict healing by recovering over 1200 remains from mass graves in BiH and identifying over 1500 missing individuals using DNA technology. In parallel, USG assistance helped build the capacity of the BiH Missing Persons Institute to address these issues and worked with the families of the missing.

  • Assisted the Central Election Commission in overseeing the October 2008 municipal elections, and increased displaced persons and Diaspora voter turnout in Srebrenica by 5,000 over 2004 levels.

Economic Growth

In FY 2008, USG assistance:

  • Improved private sector competitiveness through support to the wood processing, agriculture, and tourism sectors, and through legislative reform efforts. The USG was instrumental in establishing the annual Sarajevo Furniture Fair as a key event for the forestry and wood processing industry, and foreign tourist visits to BiH increased by 18 percent over last year. In order to boost growth in BiH, the USG trained hundreds of firms to help increase their productivity and competitiveness, and $2 million in private sector financing was mobilized through a USG Development Credit Authority Guarantee.

  • Helped the RS Parliament draft sweeping legislation to reform the business registration process and significant progress was made on labor reform. USG programs helped pass new and harmonized personal income tax legislation in the RS and Federation. A hotline established through a USG project to increase transparency in construction permitting and inspections receives hundreds of phone calls per week.

  • In the energy sector, helped develop an action plan for meeting Athens Treaty requirements, which was approved by local governments.

  • A public-private partnership with CISCO Systems, Microsoft, and BiH Telecom created a common computer network linking ten municipal institutions in Srebrenica for communications, educational and business purposes.

Success Stories

Srebrenica CourtsJust a few years ago, BiH courts were renowned for being poorly managed and inefficient. Files were frequently lost and customer satisfaction was low. The Model Court Initiative seeks to improve services to citizens through more efficient court management. The aim is to reach European standards in 39 local courts including access to open hearings and court information, internal organization and communication, and case, archive and performance management. Results are achieved through training in leadership skills, development of a common case numbering system and development of case backlog reduction plans. The project includes physical renovations to improve customer service.

The project’s accomplishments to date have been impressive. Citizens seeking information on their court cases can now get the information within minutes instead of days. Moreover, the backlog of cases in participating courts has been reduced by up to 75 percent. As a result, citizens’ perceptions of the courts have been greatly improved.

Although the Srebrenica Court is only one of many in the Model Court Initiative, its renovation has great symbolic value given that Srebrenica was the site of the worst genocide in Europe since World War II. Providing returnees with an institution capable of dispensing justice in a fair and efficient manner is another step on the road towards healing the wounds inflicted by war.

Civic EducationOne of the most successful civil society initiatives in BiH is the USG-funded Civitas program, which developed the civic education curriculum already implemented in all primary and secondary schools and at teacher training schools. This year the curriculum was introduced to kindergartens and all eight BiH universities as well.

Business DevelopmentWith USG assistance, the number of days required to register a business in the RS dropped from over 30 days to an average of seven, and after seeing USG technical assistance lower registration two days in some municipalities, several other RS municipalities approached the USG for assistance in improving governance. In four pilot municipalities, the new system registered approximately 300 formerly unincorporated businesses, lifting them out of the grey economy.

Government AccountabilityIn 2008 a BiH watchdog NGO, Centers for Civic Initiatives (CCI) published a series of reports analyzing the performance of the Council of Ministers and state and entity-level parliaments against their own action plans. These reports were widely covered in the press, with over 800 stories printed or aired, and produced 220 written and verbal reactions from BiH politicians. As a result of this monitoring, 13 government institutions developed clear work plans; parliaments increased frequency and attendance of debates, public communications, and other transparency measures, in some cases including transparent electronic voting; and both entity prime ministers and their Sarajevo cantonal government tasked their ministers with improving performance on the next CCI report.

Civic Advocacy for Health Insurance Reform – A small grant to a citizens’ organization produced a public advocacy campaign that initiated changes to the BiH Federation Law on Health Insurance. Due to this change, 70,000 children in BiH will have free health insurance beginning in 2009.

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