Dr. Irena Hadžiabdić was born in Zenica in 1960. She completed elementary and general high school education in Zenica, after which she graduated from the Belgrade Faculty of Law. She completed her postgraduate studies in the Great Britain in the field of “EU Policy, Law and Management”, obtaining a Master’s degree. She defended her doctoral thesis under the title “European democratic standards and election system of Bosnia and Herzegovina” at the Faculty of Law in Zenica.
She started working as a law trainee in a lawyer’s office, and later she worked in the administrative-legal department of the Ministry of the Interior in Zenica (Criminal Police Department for State Security Zenica).
She has attended many election related courses in the country and abroad. As an election expert, she also presented experience on administering elections and political party financing in BiH at various professional and scientific conferences. She is author of the book „Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina – A long path to the democratic standards“, and she has written seven publications and eighteen election related articles on elections.
From 1997 to 2001 she worked by turns in the Elections Department and the Democratization Department of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Travnik and Zenica.
In 2001 she was appointed as Executive Director of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) for BiH. She actively participated in establishment of the Association of Election Officials of BiH (AEOBiH), whose primary task is improvement of elections in BiH and professional training of election administration. She was Executive Director of the Association until she was appointed member of the Central Election Commission of BiH (BiH CEC).
In September 2007 the House of Representatives of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly appointed her member of the BiH CEC, and she served as the President of this Commission from December 31, 2009 until September 2011. As member of the BiH CEC she was member of the parliamentary inter-departmental working groups.
On April 27, 2016 she was reappointed member of the BiH CEC after expiry of the seven-year mandate, and she served as the President of the BiH CEC from January 1, 2017 to September 31, 2018.
Upon invitation of the UN, the OSCE/ODIHR (Elections Department of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) she was member of the election observation missions in sixteen countries in the period from 2002 to 2016.
In the period from June 2011 to September 2012, she was president of the Association of European Election Officials (ACEEEO); she represented the BiH CEC in the Executive Board of the ACEEEO and until October 2016 she also represented the BiH CEC in the Oversight and Audit Committee of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB).
In 2014 she was appointed member of the Board of Directors of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) from Washington D.C.
She was presented with the award for exceptional achievements in election management in 2013 by the Center for Parliamentary Studies in London (ICPS).
In May of 2019 she was named „person of the year” (Večernjak’s award for public administration)