Situation report on organizations of disabled people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

After the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) a new statutory and legislative order on the basis of the new territorial, economic-political and ideological relationship order was established.

Contentious and insufficient beginning reforms on economic and social level are most strongly affecting the poorest categories of citizens and especially people with disabilities whose situation dramatically deteriorated. With view to the conditions and circumstances of a societal transition and harmonization of legislation taking into account rules and standards of the countries of the European Union, whose connection is wanted, the status of the disability organizations is very much neglected by the State.

At the very beginning of the war and especially after the war many different organizations “of” and “for“ people with disabilities were founded. Today such organizations exist in BiH on local, regional and federal level.

There are some registered organizations on the territory of BiH and about 10 % of them are legally approved.

Most organizations unite people with multiple disabilities. Traditional organizations are better organized. They cover all organizational forms on local, regional and federal levels as well as they do in the Republika Srpska on local and republic level.

In the past half century the disability organizations were organized and registered on the basis of the law on societal organizations and associations of citizens. Today new laws on associations and foundations have been substituted in both States and introduced in BiH. It is prescribed that three physical and juridical persons are sufficient for the foundation and registration of their activities at the responsible authorities.

The role of the federation is not stipulated but its role is defined by the aims and tasks laid down in the registered activities. Each federation is bound to the aims and tasks in its statutes and responsible according to its role towards the society. In the past such federations were supported directly by the state. They received direct financial support for the work of the disability federations from gaming. In the present system there is no sure financial source and no direct state support but each federation has to fight for its own status by dealing with projects, sponsoring, etc.

In the process of transition and reforms in BiH there was a need for a different organizational structure of disability organizations taking into account the model of western countries. However, their role remained unchanged and this is first of all advocating people with disabilities.

With different social and humanitarian activities the federations try to overcome the very difficult material and social situation of their members and to balance the poor conditions of the majority of people with disabilities.

There are certain restrictive circumstances regarding the role the disability federations are striving for as follows:

  • limited economic potential of the country
  • inadequate taxation system with strong burdens for donations
  • frequent declarations of intent by authorities
  • discrimination by favoring disability federations resulting from war
  • ignoring the societal character of disability federations

Another problem is arising from unclear competences and technical shortcomings leading to time consumption and ignoring the federations generally.

Elvira Beslija
Secretary General

Sarajevo, August 31, 2004