H. E. Ambassador
Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina
to the United Nations
25th Special Session of the General Assembly
For an Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda
United Nations, New York, 8 June 2001
It is my privilege and honor to address the 25th Special Session of the General Assembly on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am also pleased with the fact that a significant number of Member States of the United Nations are represented at high level on this session which clearly demonstrates the willingness of the world leaders to address the challenges in the area of human settlements throughout the world. The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina is also aware of the importance of this Special Session for the world as a whole. But on this occasion I would like to underline several points significant to us:
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the spots in the world that has to deal with a large number of issues related to the human settlements. Namely, during the 1992 - 1995 war, more than 2 million people were forced out of their homes and very often almost entire towns and villages were forcefully emptied of their inhabitants. Most of the housing units were burned or otherwise completely destroyed. As you recall, a number of the cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the capital of Sarajevo, were under siege for more than three years, exposed to continuous and indiscriminate shelling, with urban areas and infrastructure as deliberate targets. Apart from that physical destruction, Bosnian unique social fabric of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multireligious society also was affected in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
So, Mr. President, when the war was ended in November of 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina was faced with disastrous state of human settlements. In addition to that, some 3 million mines, planted indiscriminately and unmarked throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina still pose very serious threat, especially to children. However, with generous assistance of the international community, for which we are profoundly greatfull, since 1995 to 2001, about one million of refugees and internally displaced did return to their pre-war homes. Regrettably, although pursuant to Annex VII of the Peace Agreement, each and every internally displaced person or refugee has the right to return to the home of origin, around 1, 135.000 internally displaced and refugees are still waiting to exercise their right. Apart from security issues, the lack of housing units, destroyed infrastructure, lack of job opportunities due to destruction of industrial facilities, no schools and universities, pure communication networks, represent main obstacles to return. Those are the challenges that Bosnia and Herzegovina, for various reasons, can not meet all by itself. However we offer our unreserved commitment and readiness to take full share of our responsibility in cooperating and working together with the international community towards our common goal: restoration of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious character of human settlements that once adorned Bosnia and Herzegovina, contributing in that way to the richness of the world heritage and committing ourselves to working with the other nations towards achieving prosperous and bright future.
I thank you Mr. President