During Ottoman rule, many Bosnians dropped their ties to Christianity in favor of Islam. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it was given to Austria-Hungary as a colony. While those living in Bosnia enjoyed the benefits of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state; World War I began when Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Following the Great War, Bosnia became part of the South Slav state of Yugoslavia, only to be given to Nazi-puppet Croatia in World War II. The Cold War saw the establishment of the Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito, and the reestablishment of Bosnia as a republic with its medieval borders.
Yugoslavia's unraveling was hastened by the rise of Slobodan Milosevic to power in 1986. Milosevic's embrace of the Serb nationalist agenda led to intrastate ethnic strife. Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence in 1991, and Bosnia-Herzegovina soon followed. In February 1992, the Bosnian Government held a referendum on independence, and Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia, responded with armed resistance in an effort to partition the republic along ethnic lines in an attempt to create a "greater Serbia." Muslims and Croats in Bosnia signed an agreement in March 1994 creating the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This narrowed the field of warring parties down to two. The conflict continued through most of 1995, ending with the Dayton Peace Agreement signed on November 21, 1995 (the final version was signed December 14, 1995 in Paris). The Muslim/Croat Federation, along with the Serb-led Republika Srpska, make up Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Presidency in Bosnia Herzegovina rotates among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected for a 4-year term. The three members of the Presidency are elected directly by the people (Federation votes for the Bosniak/Croat, RS for the Serb).
The Presidency is responsible for:
Conducting the foreign policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
Appointing ambassadors and other international representatives, no more than two thirds of which may come from the Federation;
Representing Bosnia and Herzegovina in European and international organizations and institutions and seeking membership in such organizations and institutions of which it is not a member;
Negotiating, denouncing, and, with the consent of the Parliamentary Assembly, ratifying treaties of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
Executing decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly;
Proposing, upon the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, an annual budget to the Parliamentary Assembly;
Reporting as requested, but no less than annually, to the Parliamentary Assembly on expenditures by the Presidency;
Coordinating as necessary with international and nongovernmental organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and;
Performing such other functions as may be necessary to carry out its duties, as may be assigned to it by the Parliamentary Assembly, or as may be agreed by the Entities.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. He is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Foreign Trade, and others as appropriate. The Council is responsible for carrying out the policies and decisions in the fields of foreign policy; foreign trade policy; customs policy; monetary policy; finances of the institutions and for the international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; immigration, refugee, and asylum policy and regulation; international and inter-Entity criminal law enforcement, including relations with Interpol; establishment and operation of common and international communications facilities; regulation of inter-Entity transportation; air traffic control; facilitation of inter-Entity coordination; and other matters as agreed by the Entities.
The Parliamentary Assembly is the lawmaking body in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of two houses: the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives. The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates, two-thirds of which come from the Federation (5 Croat and 5 Bosniaks) and one-third from the RS (5 Serbs). Nine members of the House of Peoples constitutes a quorum, provided that at least three delegates from each group are present. Federation representatives are selected by the House of Peoples of the Federation, and RS representatives are selected by the RS National Assembly. The House of Representatives is comprised of 42 Members, two-thirds elected from the Federation and one-third elected from the RS. Federation representatives are elected directly by the voters of the Federation, and RS representatives are selected by the RS National Assembly (the National Assembly is directly elected by RS voters).
The Parliamentary Assembly is responsible for enacting legislation as necessary to implement decisions of the Presidency or to carry out the responsibilities of the Assembly under the Constitution; deciding upon the sources and amounts of revenues for the operations of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; approving a budget for the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina; deciding whether to consent to the ratification of treaties; and other matters as are necessary to carry out its duties of as are assigned to it by mutual agreement of the Entities.
The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four members are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation, two by the Assembly of the RS, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency. Terms of initial appointees are 5 years, unless they resign or are removed for cause by consensus of the other judges. Once appointed, judges are not eligible for reappointment. Judges subsequently appointed will serve until the age of 70, unless they resign or are removed for cause. Appointments made 5 years after the initial appointments may be governed by a different law of selection, to be determined by the Parliamentary Assembly.
Proceedings of the Court are public, and decisions will be published. Rules of court are adopted by a majority of the Court, and decisions are final and binding. The Constitutional Court's original jurisdiction lies in deciding any constitutional dispute that arises between the Entities or between Bosnia and Herzegovina and an Entity or Entities. Such disputes may be referred only by a member of the Presidency, by the Chair of the Council of Ministers, by the Chair or Deputy Chair of either chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly, or by one-fourth of the legislature of either Entity. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both the Federation and the RS government have established lower court systems for their territories.
Bosnian Embassy 43 Alipasina 71000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina tel:  (71) 445-700
President--Zivko Radisic (Bosnian Serb)
Co-Prime Ministers--Alija Izetbegovic (Bosnian Muslim) Ante Jelavic (Bosnian Croat)
President (RS)--Nikola Poplasen
President (Federation)--Ejup Ganic
The U.S. role in the Dayton Accords and their implementation has been key to any of the successes in Bosnia. In the 3 years since the Dayton Accords were signed, over $4 billion in foreign aid has flown into Bosnia, about $800 million of it coming from SEED funds. As stated above, this support has been key to the growth and revitalization of the economy and infrastructure in the republic. However, most of this aid has been targeted at the Federation; the previous government of the RS was anti-Dayton and not assisted by the U.S. The election of the "Sloga" or "Unity" Coalition government, led by Prime Minister Dodik, has shifted the balance of power in the RS to a pro-Dayton stance and will result in an upsurge of funding to the RS from the international community.
In addition to SEED funding, USAID programs have been crucial to the redevelopment of Bosnia and Herzegovina. USAID has programing in the following areas: economic policy reform and restructuring; private sector development (the Business Development Program); infrastructure rebuilding; democratic reforms in the media, political process and elections, and rule of law/legal code formulation; and training programs for women and diplomats.