The Muslim-majority Balkan country had to pull a balancing act in the UN General Assembly session because of a complex system of governance, which gives equal voice to Bosnians, Serbs and Croats in foreign policy matters.
In what may come as a surprise for some in the Muslim countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina abstained to vote on a UN General Assembly resolution that criticised US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
But the Muslim-majority Balkan country has pulled a balancing act by only abstaining and not voting against the resolution as some of its subjects wanted.
The country is governed by a complex presidential system, which has representatives from Muslim Bosniak, Orthodox Serb and Catholic Croat population.
This system is a remnant of a consensus-based rule that emerged after the Bosnian War ended in the 1990s.
Bosnia comprises of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska - not to be confused with the sovereign neighbouring state of Serbia.
They have their own parliaments, presidents, and executive branches.
However, the foreign policy lies with the tripartite presidency.
Before the UN vote, which has gone against the US and Israel by a vast majority, the President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, had pressed the presidency to support Israel.
"I urge you… to do all that is necessary that the head of the Bosnia and Herzegovina mission to the UN does not support the resolution,” Dodik said, according to Balkaninsight.
Under the governance system, all three representatives of the presidency have to agree on diplomatic decisions to get it through.
The UN resolution calling the US to drop recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was backed by 128 countries while nine voted against and 35 abstained.
Almost all the countries with Muslim-majority populations, who see Jerusalem as one of the holiest sites, cast a vote that went against the US and Israel.
In past Bosnian Muslim and Croat members of the presidency have expressed support for Palestine’s bid for statehood but Serbians have opposed it.
Back in 2011, it was Republika Srpska’s opposition that stopped Bosnia from backing the Palestinian bid for a UN membership as a state — something that the Israeli press viewed as a goodwill gesture from the Serbs.