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Una-Sana canton (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Unsko-sanski kanton, Canton 1

Last modified: 2004-11-13 by dov gutterman
Keywords: bosnia and herzegovina | western bosnia | federation of bosnia and herzegovina | wall | sword | star | mullet | book | una-sana |
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by Zeljko Heimer, 11 June 2000

See also:


The Flag

This site <> contains the abstract from the 18th session of the cantonal parliament, held on 9 May 2000. The relevant part states:
"The Parliament Commision for the choice of the new cantonal symbols determined the preference for the proposed variant A.  After a discussion one delegate called for this proposal also. After the Government commision for the choice of the cantonal symbols [is that the same one? Seems not. Note ZH] reduced the offered possibilities from three to two, the parliament delegates elected by a public vote a variant B as the official symbols of the Una-Sana Canton - the coat of arms and the flag. [coat of arms, blue, three stars, walls and two "rivers", flag: BWG w/coat of arms offset. Note ZH]
Zeljko Heimer , 14 May 2000

From the proposal as appeared at <>:

Variant B
Description of the design for the coat of arms and the flag of USC:

The ideas behind the coat of arms and the flag of USC are stylization of the geographic and historical characteristics of the canton that are the most expressed or dominating either by its position or frequency in this region. To fullfil the request of easier reproduction in different aplications and materials the elements are maximally simplyfied and show only the most basic reconginizable details. Also, the choice and number of the colours is minimized, bearing in mind to retain the recognizability and authencity even in monochromatic representation.
The coat of arms consists of three recognizable elements that have symbolic and meaning in territorial determination, the cultural and historic herritage, the three ethnical grous, the number of the communities and they economically and politically determine the canton. The three golden-yellow stars represent the ethnical groups symbolizing the representation of the three poples in the canton area, while their eight points symbolize their equality and constitutivness in all of the eight communities. The stylized fort as the arms element pictures the cultural and the historical herritage of the canton. Even of they are not the oldest characteristics telling about this region, they are by far the most frequent. So, the symbol of the fort comes from their representativness and frequency in the complete territory of the canton. In them one can see the stability, hardness, tradition. For their perion are linked many important heistorical events. Also, with their shape, the enclosed (walled) arcitechture they define the inner region, symbolizing the cantonal borders. On the upper edge there are eight embattlements symbolically for the eight communities. There are open doors in the fort, reminding on the economical and political determination of the canton seen in it openness, free flow of people, ideas, merchandise and capital. The two winding stripes in the lower part of the coat of arms symbolize the rivers Una and Sana that form the dominant geographical element providing the territorial determination of the region.
The flag of the canton is made as tricolour with the same coat of arms set 60 cm from the hoist, noting that the staff diameter and the flag material encompassing it are not counted in the basic and shown flag dimensions. [So - what the flag looks like? From the image, it's blue over white over gree tricolour with offset CoA]
Zeljko Heimer, 25 April and 6 May 2000

After the decision of the High Representative on the ban of all non-neutral and offensive symbols in 1999, the old (1997) flag was invalidated. It seems that in USC that decision was respected both legaly and practically, differing from some other cantons that had, or still have no will to obey it. So, effectively, the Canton was without symbols during the 1999/2000.
In December 1999 the Canton made a concourse for a new flag and coat of arms. Out of 28 proposals that arrived there were three that were chosen into further consideration and for public debate. They were published also on the Net, at <>. In May 2000 the variant that is effectively the "neutralization" of the previous symbols was adopted.
In the blue shield there is a white embatteled wall (with eight embattlements) with entrance and windows, above it three golden eightpointed stars, representing the three nations and eight communities, and below are two green "twisted ribbons", representing the rivers Una and Sana. The shield is bordered with white within a golden border.
The flag is horizontal tricolour of the colours from the coat of arms, now of stripes of equal width, blue over white over green. The coat of arms is set in it, offset twoards hoist for better visibility. The coat of arms is entering the blue and the green stripe for 1/3 of the width of each, i.e. the hight of the shield is 5/9 of the flag width. The length from the hoist of the coat of arms axis is 3/5 of the hoist
size. Ratio of the flag is 1:2.
Similary as with previous symbols, it is hard to determine what are the exact colour shades. Also, the ratio of the coat of arms seems to be different in the sources (and in the same source on two images).
The laws regulating the new symbols are:
(a) Zakon o grbu i zastavi Unsko-sanskog kantona, 9. maja 2000.
(b) Zakon o upotrebi grba i zastave Unsko-sanskog kantona, 31. maja 2000.

Both are quoted from the text of proposals that were adopted, since they are not yet published in the official gazette (no doubt, only because of the short time resons). The text of the law (a) contains additionally some explanations on law changes and reasoning behind prepaired for the members of the Cantonal Assembly. (all the important and interesting details from those ared included in this material).
Both laws are more or less adapted versions of the previous laws - so all the interesting and notworth deatils said about previous flag are valid for this one, too. So, it is prescribed also as the war flag, and could be used as basis for military unit, command and rank flags. Also, when hoisted vertically, the blue stipe should be to the right (the same ambiguity on what that mean remains!).
Both laws are legaly valid on the next day after the issue in the official gazette (so, they are not valid as yet, it seems, but I guess that there is little practical meaning in this). They invalidate the previous laws (though they were practically invalidated by the decision of HR).
Zeljko Heimer, 11 June 2000

The Coat of Arms

by Zeljko Heimer, 11 June 2000

The Process of Adoption the New Flag and Coat of Arms

We have learned recently the status of the adoption process for the new flag and coat of arms for Una-Sana Canton of B&H, as it was published on the government of USC site at <>. Here is the USC decision:

"18/02/2000 - USC Government Session - Proposal of the Law for official blazon and flag of the Una-Sana Canton

According to the OHR Decision that USC official symbols contains elements that are offensive for some B&H constitutional nationality members, USC Government launched the procedure for new cantonal symbols. Commission which was appointed on this task received 28 proposals as respond on newspapers announcement for making new symbols. The Commission chose three of them and placed them to the Government. The Commission President, cantonal Minister for justice and governing, reminded that OHR stopped the usage of all the B&H cantonal symbols except the one of the Sarajevo Canton. The reason for this was in offensive content for some constitutional nations.
Cantonal Minister for work and social policy noticed that this act was proceeded through achieving the brand new Law for the cantonal blazon and flag, what is wrong, because the act would  have been satisfying if it had looked for changing an existed Law. Second remark was for unnecessary seeking for brand new symbols, because it would have been enough if the old ones had changed according to the OHR Decision. The Commission president for this issue reminded that the Prime Minister of USC Government asked for the definition of the offensive elements from the OHR, but he received no answer. That was the reason for going on with choosing the new symbols.
Government made a Decision to go with Proposal of urgent resolving of this Law deliverance, towards the Assembly, which means not to go with Draft but directly with Proposal. Last three symbol-solutions will be in the Proposal, so the Cantonal Assembly will decide for one of them."

The first working issue of the formally defined Sixteenth Assembly Session was Proposal for the new Law about Cantonal blazon and flag, that was posted to the Assembly by the Cantonal Ministry for Justice and Governing to be resolved through short procedure, containing three concrete drawings. After long discussion about the look of posted drawings and numerous and different standards which should present the frame for this kind of work, the majority of delegates decided to put this law in draft form and to pass it through the regular procedure. It was decided to make another Evaluation Commission which will, together with Government Commission, do the election among all of 28 drawings that were received upon the Concurs. For this Commission the followings are suggested; Kresimir Izakovic (is not Assembly member), Ratko Dubajic, Muhamed Skrgic, Rasid Duric (is not Assembly member), Zlatko Dizdarevic, Causevic Meho (is not Assembly member), Emric Sead (is not Assembly member) i Bahro Jusic (is not Assembly member). All of suggested non Assembly members are professional artists. It was also emphasized that by adopting this law in the Draft form the delegates also adopted the attitude of Government's Commission which prefers the three posted drawings discussed on this Session. The new Commission should therefore regard this attitude.

Continuing with the note provided on the site:
" The Public opinion pool about Cantonal symbols launched on <> will be continued according to delay of final decision about the Cantonal symbols until the next Assembly Session which was planed for the end of the march. The results will be posted to the Assembly Speaker."

At the moment when I was looking at the site, the prefference was toward variant B (110 votes), followed by variant C (72 votes) and variant A (30 votes). The pool is, of course, of informative character only,

On its session on 22 April 2000, it was reported regarding the flag issue like this:

"The Government Commision for the choice of the new coat of arms and flag of the USC made upgrade of the law regarding the cantonal symbols, and thus published the new preference containing two proposals, in stead of the three prefered until now and given to cantonal assembly. These are variant 1 and variant 2, while the variant 3, under codename "Japodic rider" is eliminated from further choice proceidure, allthough the design remains property of the Government of USC."

Here are the proposals:

Variant A

by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 7 April 2001

Description of the design for the coat of arms and the flag of USC

1) The coat of arms of USC According with point 3 of the announced concourse of 24 December 1999 in "Unsko-sanske novine", the design of the coat of arms of the USC is made in black & white and in colour. The proposed design is in accordance with requests from the point 3 of the announced concourse containing this characteristics: a) historical b) natural c) national

Historical charateristics:
Through its long history, thanks to its geographic and geotrafic position, the region of the USC represented a LINK, a BINDING - a BRIDGE between the East and the West. On the proposed esign this historical characteristic is symbolized by a bridge above rivers Una and Sana representing: - the symbol of binding of the USC with the other parts of B&H, - the symbol of binding of the USC with its neighbours and other parts of the world, - the symbol of the traditional friendship, - the symbol of the traditional good relationship with neighbours, - As another important historical characteristic is in upper part of the coat of arms the diagonal white stripe that reminds on the mideval coat of arms of Bosnian state.

Natural characteristics:
In the proposed design of the coat of arms of the USC the natural characteristics are represnted by the rivers of Una and Sana, the two rivers that naturally mark the USC territory [the two rivers form almost western and easter border of the canton in most of their float]. In the given design the two rivers are draining into common bed, symbolizing the whole region of the USC.

National characteristics:
As in the region of the USC there are living three equally rightful peoples, i.e. the Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs, they are represented in the upper part of the coat of ars with the colours those peoples have in their national flags (green, white, red). The upper triangular area (in arms' chief) is green symbolizing the Bosniaks, while the lower triangular field is in red and white that both Croats and Serbs have in their national flags, so symbolizing the Croats and Serbs. However, as both Croats and Serbs have in their national flags also the blue field, it is equally valid at will to replace the red field with the blue one, retaining the symbolic. [I.e. it is proposed another design - replacing red with blue!] Beside that, in the upper triangular field reminding on the heartlike shape of the B&H state, there are inserted three blue stars representing and symbolizing the three peoples living in the territory of the USC.

2. The flag of USC According to the propsed design, the flag of the USC is composed of three colours that the three poeples living in the territoy of USC have in their national flags, i.e. the green, white and red. The upper horizontal stripe is green, representing the Bosniaks, while the middle stripe is white and lower one is red, the two representing the Serbs and the Croats. Considering that both Croats and Serbs in their national flags also use blue, it is given possibility that at will the lower red stripe is replaced with blue one retaining the symbolic. In the middle of the flag is the coat of arms of USC. The ratio of the flag is 1:2.

Variant B (Adopted - see above)

Variant C

Description of the design for the coat of arms and the flag of USC
[Note: as it shall be seen from the description, at least one colour - green - is misrepresented on the images provided on <> possibly other colours are "shifted" too, but they are not given in description.]

Description of the coat of arms under codename "Iapodic rider" .The curent research and found remains of the material culture prove that the USC is settled sincethe Stone Age. The presence of the tribe of Iapods in these regions is proven since VII century BCE. Among the greates pictoral artistic achievments is counted the stone vase called "Iapodic riders". The love towards horses remained one of the treads connecting the inhabitants of the USC throughout the centuries since Iapodic time until today.
The shape of the shield itself, with the three embattlements, symbolize the three constitutiove and equal peoples of the USC.
The Iapodic rider represent the history and culture of the USC.
The feather in his hand is symbol of the strougle and wish for learning and knowlege (a feather is mightier then the sword).
The eightsided shield symbolize the firmness and interlinkage of the eight communities of the USC.
The wavy lines of green and blue represent the rivers of Una and Sana between which the canton is set (white).
The stars around the rivers are symbols of the belonging to the Republic of B&H and the European community. [what stars? they are not visible on the image provided by <> , possibly they are removed from the proposal? BTW, note the wrong name of the country - B&H does not containg the word Republic in the official name any more, also EC here is not meant the community of nations as a whole, not the orgaization of some Europian nations that is called by the same name]

Description of the flag
The flag is composed of three horizontal rectangles of green, white and blue. The green and blue are colours representing rivers Una and Sana, and the white is the colour of the USC between the two rivers.

Zeljko Heimer, 25 April and 6 May 2000

The 1997 - 1999 Flag of the Una-Sana canton

by Zeljko Heimer, 10 June 2000

I was informed about the flag of Una-Sana canton (the region of the former "Authonomous Republic of Western Bosnia"). The flag is horizontally divided green over white over cyan (or similar greenish-blueish colour), with middle stripe considerably wider than the other two. In the middle is the coat of arms of the county - green with stone wall and trenches, over it 8+3 yellow 8-pointed stars, under it white book (Kur'an) with yellow sword. Exact size of stripes and coat of arms unknown. It was shown on Croatian TV (and a friend who saw it described it for me) while I was away.
Zeljko Heimer, 21 February 1998

The first Coat of Arms and the flag of the USC are adopted on 28 July 1997 on the 9th session of the Cantonal Assembly. The four doccuments issued in the official gazzete are connected with that, (1) though (4) of sources quoted below.
The documents (1) and (3) are decisions of USC president proclaiming the laws (2) and (4), nr. (2) being the law on the CoA and the flag, and nr. (4) the law on their usage. All four are issued simultaneously in the same official gazette on three consequtive pages, but legaly, they are four different documents. The two "sic!" notes below refer to the incorrect spelling of the canton name regarding the capitals (they are misspelled throughot the laws (2) and (4), while in (1) and (3) are correct).
Article 1 of law (2) defines the CoA is green shield, with 11 golden eightpointed stars in three rows and five colloumns (following detailed description of their position, but oddly, not mentioning tha the three stars in sinister column are bigger then the others). In the middle there is a golden defense wall of three rows of bricks under which are two blue rivers (stylized as "trenches" infront of the wall), outlined in gold, a white book (outlined in gold) and a golden schmitar. The wall, rivers and the schmitar are said to be in 19 degrees towards horizontal (though the images I saw do not follow that, as far as I can tell, but it may be a matter of how one measures the angle). The shiled is outlined with inner white, and outer golden border (of the same width). Basically, it is the same with what I reported earlier, based on the article in "Hrvatski obzor" .
The symbolic is not refered in the law, but is pretty obvious - eight smaller stars for eight communities in the Canton, three bigger stars for the three contitutional nations, three rows of which is made the defence wall maight also refer to the three nations, rivers are Una and Sana, the border-rivers of the Canton, and the it's sake-names, and oriental schmitar and book (Kur'an). However, the green colour of the field should not only be connected with Islam, since the two rivers, and especially Una, is known as the green river due to the green colour of its waters reflecting the green slopes inbetween wich it flows.
The flag is defined in article 2. The colours in the flag are based on the colours of the coat of arms, and the design is influanced maybe by the flags used by Bosniaks during the recent war. The ratio of the flag is rather unusual 1:1.75 (i.e. 4:7), and the width of stripes is 1:3:12:3:1. The height of the coat of arms is half the flag hoist (i.e. 10 units of the previous ratio), and it is set in the middle of the flag.
The law (4) defines the vertical hoisting - the vertically hoisted flag should be hoisted so that the green stripe comes on the right - whatever that actually means - and if it is taken to mean the most strightforward then it is against the usual vertical hoisting principle. here is no mention that the CoA would be "rectified" on such flag, and probably that was not done. So, to get the vertical variant, only rotate the horizontal flag 90 degrees clockwise.
Another interesing detail is that the law (4) prescribes this flag for use by the Army of the Federation, i.e. it can be considered a war flag, too. There is also a legal definition that alowes the flag and the coat of arms to be included with military flags (unit, command and ranks and other flags).
Both laws (2) and (4) came in effect next day after issue in the official gazette, that is 12 August 1997.
A similar flag was reported by me, as informed by visitors to my pages, but the report lacked the outermost white stripes. Such triband ("Spanish style") is an error, as only the fivestriped flag ("Israeli style") was official, and probably the only one used.
The blue shade of the rivers and in the flag are reportedly not the pure blue, buth some kind of "greenish" blue. The shade I used in my image is closest to the blue used in the materials I received. The shield shape is also according to the materials, and even if it looks a bit less elegant then the previously repoted one, this is probably as official source as we shall ever get.
By the decision of the High Representative regarding the displaying and using of the common, neutral and unoffensive symbols (5), the legal and other acts not complying to it are invalidated. The implementation instructions of the decision consider these symbols among such, so the flag is both legaly and practically abandoned in 1999. In December 1999 the councourse for the new symbols was published, and after a public debate they were finally adopted on 9 May 2000.

(1) Odluka o proglasenju Zakona o grbu i zastavi Unsko-sanskog kantona, 4. august 1997, Sluzbeni glasnik USK, br. 2/97, god. I, Bihac, 11. august 1997, str 13.
(2) Zakon o grbu i zastavi Unsko-Sanskog Kantona (sic!), 28. jula 1997, Sluzbeni glasnik USK, br. 2/97, god. I, Bihac, 11. august 1997, str 13.
(3) Odluka o proglasenju Zakona o upotrebi grba i zastave Unsko-sanskog kantona, 4. august 1997, Sluzbeni glasnik USK, br. 2/97, god. I, Bihac, 11. august 1997, str 13.
(4) Zakon o upotrebi grba i zastave Unsko-Sanskog Kantona (sic!), 28. jula 1997, Sluzbeni glasnik USK, br. 2/97, god. I, Bihac, 11. august 1997, str 14-15.
(5) Odluka Visokog predstavnika, Sluzbene novine Federacije BiH, br. 34/99 (as quoted in explanatory material prepaired for the adoption of the new symbols)
Zeljko Heimer, 10 June 2000

The 1997 - 1999 Coat of Arms

by Zeljko Heimer, 10 June 2000

The extract from article in "Hrvatskai obzor" political weekly magazine, my translation. There is no similarity in the star pattern to word Islam, as claimed in the article. The article provided image of the coat of arms on which is my image based.

HRVATSKI OBZOR, 128/III, Zagreb, 20.09.1997. p.7.

Islamic heraldry

... the lobbies closer to Velika Kladusa, those in Bihac, are trying to get the message of the new (green) coat of arms of Una-Sana County, in which (Abdic's) Velika Kladusa is.

Those familliar with oriental iconography see in the symbolic of the oriental sabre over a book (Kur'an) the spread of Islam and Jihad, and in the irregularly ordered stars, that should among other things symbolize "three constitutive nations (?!) and eight communities in the Canton" - the stillization of the noun written in Arab, right to left - "Islam". If the coat of arms is pleasing to the other two consitutive nations there is no informations. Perhaps it is because Bosniaks have 96 percent of the population of the Canton.

Zeljko Heimer, 20 September 1997