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EACEA National Policies Platform
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

1. Youth Policy Governance

1.8 Cross-border cooperation

Last update: 17 May 2024

Cooperation with European Countries

Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently the beneficiary of the Instrument of Pre-accession Assistance 2021-2027 (IPA III) program that opens opportunities for cross-border cooperation in the field of civil society development and provides support to use of EU funds. Bilateral IPA II Indicative funding allocations in the period 2014-2020 amount to €552.1 million (including funds for the Civil Society Facility (€9.1 million), Regional Housing Programme (€10 million) and special measures following 2014 floods (€51 million)). However, there is no youth specific use of these funds.

EU countries like Germany, Italy, Austria, France and Sweden, through their respective embassies and development agencies, have been investing in youth policy development at national and local levels in BiH. Some of the projects include Youth for Change and Empowering Youth for Sustainable Development through the Advisory Board for Youth of the Swiss Embassy in BiH, Be a Man Club in BD BiH, implemented in collaboration with the Government of Switzerland, the OAK Foundation, the Austrian Development Agency, and CARE International Balkans and METAVOICE – Voices of Youth in the Digital Age implemented by the PRONI Youth Development Center with the support of the United States Department of State.

International cooperation

The cooperation of BiH with the United Nations is implemented trough UNCT (the United Nations Country Team) in BiH. UNCT is comprised of 12 funds, United Nations Programmes and Specialised Agencies (UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, ILO, UNESCO, UN Women, UNV, FAO, UNEP, UNODC); the Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank, IFC, IMF); UNICTY Office and IOM. 

Several regionally-based UN Agencies (UNIDO, IFAD, IAEA) are also operational in BiH through the implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) BiH 2021-2025. This Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (CF)  describes four strategic priorities for joint work by 2025:

  • Sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth; 

  • Quality, accessible and inclusive education, health and social protection; 

  • People cantered governance and rule of law; 

  • Citizen and community engagement for social cohesion.

UNCT also co-operates and co-ordinates activities effectively and exhaustively in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention, youth and employment issues, people with disabilities, local development and Roma issues.

The Council of Europe Action Plan for BiH 2022–2025 is a strategic programming instrument for the period from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2025. The main goal is to support reform processes in BiH with the aim of harmonizing legislation, institutions, and practices with European standards, particularly in the areas of human rights, rule of law, and democracy. This also supports the country's aspirations towards fulfilling obligations of membership in the Council of Europe and promoting the European integration process.

The Action Plan defines the following areas of cooperation:

  • Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights at the national level,

  • Freedom of expression and media,

  • Protection of human rights and fight against discrimination,

  • Judiciary reforms,

  • Fight against corruption, money laundering, financing of terrorism, and cybercrime,

  • Combating human trafficking,

  • Police and prison system reform, including work on the reintegration of extremist prisoners,

  • Electoral reforms,

  • Local democracy and self-government,

  • Interethnic dialogue and reconciliation,

  • Education.

New areas of cooperation have been identified, as well as areas where efforts need to be intensified based on recent activities of the Council of Europe, monitoring mechanisms, and expert bodies, as well as challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which include:

  • Migration management and rights of vulnerable groups in the context of migration and asylum,

  • Interaction between human environment and human rights,

  • Right to information,

  • Data protection,

  • Access to justice for women and prevention of violence against women,

  • Support to the Constitutional Court,

  • Fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking,

  • Civic participation in decision-making processes.

Activities within these areas will be based on Council of Europe conventions, recommendations of advisory and monitoring bodies. The Action Plan will encompass all three pillars of Council of Europe cooperation and provide expert and technical support for the application of Council of Europe standards in priority areas, as well as capacity building of relevant institutions. Emphasis will be placed on improving co-ordinated activities of various actors, crucial for addressing the complex challenges of governance and promoting dialogue with civil society.

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina is active in youth field since 2014 through their initiative to establish Youth Advisory Group at the OSCE Mission to the Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 2016 initiative aiming to develop school-supported activities to counter and prevent violent extremism from taking ground in educational environments. 

Non-EU countries, which are active in the youth development field in BiH, are USA and Switzerland. Those countries are active through their respective embassies and developmental agencies and have country policies that highly prioritize youth issues. Some of their projects are mentioned in the previous subsection. 

On July 4, 2016, BiH signed the Agreement on the Establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) at the Summit of the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkan Countries in Paris. The RYCO's mission is to support regional youth exchanges and their ideas, based on the values of coexistence, tolerance, and respect for human rights and differences, intensifying regional cooperation among young people and youth-related institutions, as well as ensuring the implementation of joint youth programs based on principles of democratic governance, sustainable economic development, education, and innovation, and coordination of youth cooperation in the Western Balkans. The BiH Council of Ministers determined the Proposal for an Agreement on the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans (RYCO) at its 61st session held on June 20, 2016.