Jakob Finci was born to a Sepharadi family on 1 October 1943 in Rab concentration camp. He is a prominent Bosnian Jew, former Ambassador, and the current President of the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is also the President of the Jewish cultural and humanitarian society "La Benevolencija".
A lawyer by training, Jakob Finci became member of the Presidency of the Jewish Community in Sarajevo in 1990, and in this capacity worked on humanitarian activities during the war in Sarajevo. In August 1995, Jakob Finci was elected President of the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Jakob Finci is a founding member - and current president - of the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was established in 1997. Its membership reflects the country’s Islamic, Christian, and Jewish communities.
Finci was also President of the Constitutional Commission of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Director of the Civil Service Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ambassador to Switzerland and non-resident Ambassador to the Principality of Liechtenstein.
As a respected public figure, Finci was elected in 2000 to chair the national committee charged with the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission. Two years later, he was appointed Director of the Civil Service Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, his political ambitions were thwarted when he learned that, being Jewish, he was unable to run for president.
Under the Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia on 14 December 1995, membership to the parliament’s upper house or presidency is reserved for one of the three ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. Minorities, or “others” outside these constituent groups, such as Jews and Roma, can be Members of Parliament, but may not stand for higher political office.
Jakob Finci and Dervo Sejdić, a prominent Bosnian Roma and member of Bosnia's Roma Council, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that Bosnia's Constitution violates the European Convention on Human Rights.The judgement was handed down in their favor in September 2009. The Court found that certain provisions of the Bosnian constitution and election law discriminate against minority groups. However, six years after the ruling, the judgement has not been implemented yet by Bosnia and Herzegovina. See Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Finci frequently lectures on different topics, such as international commercial law, privatization, conflict resolution, interethnic coexistence, as well as about matters as the organization of humanitarian work, fund raising, Judaism, etc.
For his work, Jakob Finci has been decorated several times. These honors include: the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the American decoration First American Freedom in Richmond Virginia. He has also been named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur of the French Republic, and in 2009. he was proclaimed “Person of the Year” by Sarajevo’s daily newspaper SAN, and Man of the Year for 2013 by Bosnian daily “Večernji list”. Jakob Finci received International Prize Primo Levi in 2013 in Genoa – Italy,
- Jakob Finci Biography. UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina http://www.ba.undp.org/content/bosnia_and_herzegovina/en/home/test_area/jakob-finci.html. Missing or empty
- "In post-war Bosnia, Jews celebrate 450 years of survival". The Times of Israel.
- "Barred for being Jewish", The Guardian, 23.04.2010, p.14
- Bosnia Jew seeks to reverse ban on running for president, Haaretz, June 5, 2009
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