f_0022603_18595 - Religious Freedom in Republika Srpska...

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Spring 2011 The Ambassadors REVIEW 45 Religious Freedom in Republika Srpska Thomas P. Melady, Ph.D. Professor and Senior Diplomat in Residence, Institute of World Politics United States Ambassador to the Holy See, 1989-1993 United States Ambassador to Uganda, 1972-1973 United States Ambassador to Burundi, 1969-1972 Senior Advisor to the US Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly President Emeritus of Sacred Heart University Former United States Assistant Secretary for Post Secondary Education J. Cushman Laurent Assistant to the Senior Diplomat in Residence, Institute of World Politics eligious freedom is one indicator that can be used to gauge fundamental human rights bestowed upon citizens by government. Republika Srpska has seen ethnical, cultural, and political strife over the last two decades. Sixteen years after the Dayton Peace Accords ended the Bosnian War, does Republika Srpska guarantee freedom of religion? Background Republika Srpska (RS) is one of two entities that compose Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other is the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). As an autonomous republic, Republika Srpska is subject to its own internal governance. The capital of Republika Srpska is Banja Luka. The government buildings in Banja Luka give it the appearance of the capital of a sovereign state. Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, several different nations have arisen from the former country. The Balkan Wars of the 1990s were fraught with ethnic and religious strife. Bosnia and Herzegovina was at the center of these contentions that have been present in the region for centuries. The country’s three main ethnic groups are: Bosniak (48 percent), Serb (37.1 percent), and Croat (14.3 percent). 1 These three ethnic groups are usually associated with a particular religion: Bosniaks with the Muslim faith, the Serbians with Serbian Orthodox, and the Croatians with Catholicism. At various points throughout history, each of these three groups has dominated the region, and each has asserted what they believe to be a legitimate claim. For example, during the Balkan
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f_0022603_18595 - Religious Freedom in Republika Srpska...

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