The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights today held that a provision of the Dayton Peace Agreement preventing Roma and Jews from election to high office in Bosnia and Herzegovina is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=18&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=&sessionid=40897268&skin=hudoc-en. Hats off to my friend and colleague, Sheri Rosenberg, who argued the case for Jacob Finci, one of the leaders of Sarajevo's small Jewish community.
The judgment is not entirely unanimous, and there is a thought provoking dissent from Judge Bonello, who expresses his concern that the Court may be tampering with a successful peace agreement: 'Strasbourg has told both the former belligerents and the peace-devising do-gooders that they got it all wrong. They had better start all over again. The Dayton formula was inept, the Strasbourg non-formula henceforth takes its place. Back to the drawing board', writes Judge Bonello. Referring to the Convention's preamble, and its reference to peace (see my blog of last week on the rights to peace), Judge Bonello says: 'Again, one cannot possibly disagree with the almost platitudinous preamble of the Convention that human rights “are the foundation of peace in the world”. Sure they are. But what of exceptionally perverse situations in which the enforcement of human rights could be the trigger for war rather than the conveyor of peace?' He concludes: 'I cannot endorse a Court that sows ideals and harvests massacre.' Harsh words indeed, but worth further reflection.
I propose that we discuss this case at our next seminar, scheduled for the evening of 12 January.