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Dayton Peace agreement
General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Seated from left to right: Slobodan Milošević, Alija Izetbegović, Franjo Tuđman initialling the Dayton Peace Accords at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on 21 November 1995.
Drafted10 August 1995 (1995-08-10)
Signed14 December 1995 (1995-12-14)[1]
LocationWright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.

The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement or the Dayton Accords (Croatian: Daytonski sporazum,[3] Bosnian: Dejtonski sporazum, and Serbian: Dejtonski mirovni sporazum / Дејтонски мировни споразум), is the peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, United States, finalised on 21 November 1995,[4] and formally signed in Paris, on 14 December 1995. These accords put an end to the three-and-a-half-year-long Bosnian War, which was part of the much larger Yugoslav Wars.

The warring parties agreed to peace and to a single sovereign state known as Bosnia and Herzegovina composed of two parts, the largely Serb-populated Republika Srpska and mainly Croat-Bosniak-populated Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The agreement has been criticized for creating ineffective and unwieldy political structures and entrenching the ethnic cleansing of the previous war.[5][6]

Negotiation and signature

Video of the signing of the Dayton Agreement

Though basic elements of the Dayton Agreement were proposed in international talks as early as 1992,[7] these negotiations were initiated following the unsuccessful previous peace efforts and arrangements, the August 1995 Croatian military Operation Storm and its aftermath, the government military offensive against the Republika Srpska, conducted in parallel with NATO's Operation Deliberate Force. During September and October 1995, world powers (especially the United States and Russia), gathered in the Contact Group, pressured the leaders of the three sides to attend settlement negotiations; Dayton, Ohio was eventually chosen as the venue.[citation needed]

Talks began with an outline of key points presented by the U.S. in a team led by National Security Adviser Anthony Lake in visits to London, Bonn, Paris and other European stops 10 – 14 August 1995. These included Sochi, to consult Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. Lake's team handed off to a separate U.S. inter-agency group led by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who went on to negotiate with Balkan leaders in their capitals.[8] The Holbrooke crew conducted five rounds of intense shuttle diplomacy from August to October,[9] including short conferences in Geneva and New York that resulted in the parties' adoption of principles for a settlement on 8 and 26 September respectively.[citation needed]

The Dayton conference took place from 1–21 November 1995. The main participants from the region were the President of the Republic of Serbia Slobodan Milošević (whom the Bosnian Serbs had previously empowered to represent their interests), President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman, and President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Alija Izetbegović with his Foreign Minister Muhamed Šaćirbeg.[citation needed]

The peace conference was led by US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and negotiator Richard Holbrooke with two co-chairmen in the form of EU Special Representative Carl Bildt and the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Igor Ivanov. A key participant in the US delegation was General Wesley Clark. The head of the UK's team was Pauline Neville-Jones, political director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The UK military representative was Col Arundell David Leakey. Paul Williams, through the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) served as legal counsel to the Bosnian Government delegation during the negotiations.

Holbrooke spoke of the "immense difficulty of engaging the Bosnian government in a serious negotiation".[10]

The secure site was chosen in order to remove all the parties from their comfort zone, without which they would have little incentive to negotiate; to reduce their ability to negotiate through the media; and to securely house over 800 staff and attendants. Curbing the participants' ability to negotiate via the media was a particularly important consideration. Richard Holbrooke wanted to prevent posturing through early leaks to the press.

The signing of the full and formal agreement in Paris.

After having been initialed in Dayton, Ohio, on 21 November 1995,[4] the full and formal agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995[11] and witnessed by Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, French President Jacques Chirac, US President Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister John Major, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.


The agreement's main purpose is to promote peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to endorse regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia (Article V, annex 1-B), thus in a regional perspective.[12]

The present political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its structure of government were agreed upon, as part the constitution that makes up Annex 4 of the General Framework Agreement concluded at Dayton. A key component of this was the delineation of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line to which many of the tasks listed in the Annexes referred.[13]

The State of Bosnia Herzegovina was set as of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of the Republika Srpska. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a complete state, as opposed to a confederation; no entity or entities could ever be separated from Bosnia and Herzegovina unless by due legal process. Although highly decentralised in its entities, it would still retain a central government, with a rotating State Presidency, a central bank and a constitutional court.[12][14]

The agreement mandated a wide range of international organizations to monitor, oversee and implement components of the agreement. The NATO-led IFOR (Implementation Force) was responsible for implementing military aspects of the agreement and deployed on 20 December 1995, taking over the forces of the UNPROFOR. The Office of the High Representative was charged with the task of civil implementation. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe was charged with organising the first free elections in 1996.[12]

Constitutional Court decision

On 13 October 1997, the Croatian 1861 Law Party and the Bosnia-Herzegovina 1861 Law Party requested the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to annul several decisions and to confirm one decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and, more importantly, to review the constitutionality of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina since it was alleged that the agreement violated the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a way that it undermined the integrity of the state and could cause the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Court reached the conclusion that it is not competent to decide the dispute in regards to the mentioned decisions since the applicants were not subjects that were identified in Article VI.3 (a) of the Constitution on those who can refer disputes to the Court. The Court also rejected the other request:

the Constitutional Court is not competent to evaluate the constitutionality of the General Framework Agreement as the Constitutional Court has in fact been established under the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to uphold this Constitution ... The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted as Annex IV to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and consequently there cannot be a conflict or a possibility for controversy between this Agreement and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[15]

It was one of the early cases in which the Court had to deal with the question of the legal nature of the Constitution. By making the remark in the manner of obiter dictum concerning the Annex IV (the Constitution) and the rest of the peace agreement, the Court actually "established the ground for legal unity"[16] of the entire peace agreement, which further implied that all of the annexes are in the hierarchical equality. In later decisions the Court confirmed that by using other annexes of the peace agreement as a direct base for the analysis, not only in the context of systematic interpretation of the Annex IV. However, since the Court rejected the presented request of the appellants, it did not go into details concerning the controversial questions of the legality of the process in which the new Constitution (Annex IV) came to power and replaced the former Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Court used the same reasoning to dismiss the similar claim in a later case.[17]

Territorial changes

Bosniak, Croat and Serb militarily-held areas in 1995 before the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement
Territorial changes.
Political division of Bosnia and Herzegovina after the Dayton Agreement.
Serb families leave their homes due to regulations in the Dayton agreement from 1995.[18] Picture taken near the town of Modriča, northeastern Bosnia

Before the agreement, Bosnian Serbs controlled about 46% of Bosnia and Herzegovina (23,687 km2), Bosniaks 28% (14,505 km2) and Bosnian Croats 25% (12,937 km2).

Bosnian Serbs got large tracts of mountainous territories back (4% from Bosnian Croats and some small amounts from Bosniaks), but they had to surrender Sarajevo and some vital Eastern Bosnian/Herzegovian positions. Their percentage grew to 49% (48% by excluding the Brčko District, 24,526 km2).

Bosniaks got most of Sarajevo and some important positions in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina while they lost only a few locations on Mount Ozren and in western Bosnia. Their percentage grew to 30%, and they greatly improved the quality of the land. Large tracts of prewar Bosniak (and Bosnian Croat) inhabited lands remained under Bosnian Serb control.[19]

Bosnian Croats gave most (4% of BiH territories) back to the Bosnian Serbs (9% of today's RS) and also retreated from Una-Sana Donji Vakuf (in Central Bosnia) afterward. A small enlargement of Posavina (Odžak and parts of Domaljevac) did not change the fact that after Dayton Bosnian Croats controlled just 21% of Bosnia and Herzegovina (10,640 km2), compared to more than 25% prior to Dayton. One of the most important Bosnian Croat territories (Posavina with Bosanski Brod, Bosanski Šamac, Derventa) was left out of Bosnian Croat control.[12]

Control of Republika Srpska

Control of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina


Main article: Cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Canton 10:

Una-Sana Canton:

West Herzegovina Canton:

Herzegovina-Neretva Canton:

Central Bosnia Canton:

Zenica-Doboj Canton:

Tuzla Canton:

Posavina Canton:

Bosnian Podrinje Canton:

Sarajevo Canton:

Brčko District was divided;


The immediate purpose of the agreement was to freeze the military confrontation and prevent it from resuming. It was therefore defined as a "construction of necessity".[21]

The Dayton Agreement was aimed at allowing Bosnia and Herzegovina to move from an early post-conflict phase through reconstruction and consolidation, adopting a consociational power-sharing approach.[22][23] Scholars such as Canadian professor Charles-Philippe David calls Dayton "the most impressive example of conflict resolution".[24][25] American scholar Howard M. Hensel states that "Dayton represents an example of a conflict resolution negotiation that was successful.[26] However, Patrice C. McMahon and Jon Western write that "As successful as Dayton was at ending the violence, it also sowed the seeds of instability by creating a decentralized political system that undermined the state's authority".[27]

High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch argued in 2006 that the Dayton framework has allowed the international community to move "from statebuilding via institutions and capacity-building to identity building", putting Bosnia and Herzegovina "on the road to Brussels".[28]

The Dayton Agreement has been the subject of criticism since its inception, including:

According to survey results from a 2020 study, "in each of the three main ethnic groups of Bosnia, more people would have voted for Dayton than against it."[34]

Disappearance of the original document

On 13 February 2008, the head of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina Željko Komšić said that the original Dayton Agreement was lost from the Presidency's archive. High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina Miroslav Lajčák said: "I don't know whether the news is sad or funny".[35] On 16 November 2009 the French Foreign Ministry delivered the certified copy of the Dayton agreement to the French embassy in Sarajevo. The copy was later transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia-Herzegovina.[36] The stolen original was found in 2017 in a private residence in Pale, resulting in the arrest of the person who was trying to sell it.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "15 years ago, Dayton Peace Accords: a milestone for NATO and the Balkans". NATO. 14 December 2010. Archived from the original on 17 February 2020. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Summary of the Dayton Peace Agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina". 30 November 1995. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Daytonski sporazum | Hrvatska enciklopedija". Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Dayton Peace Accords on Bosnia". US Department of State. 30 March 1996. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2006.
  5. ^ Levene, Mark (2000). "The Limits of Tolerance: Nation–State Building and What It Means for Minority Groups". Patterns of Prejudice. 34 (2): 19–40. doi:10.1080/00313220008559138. S2CID 144296663. Consider, instead, one contemporary parallel, Bosnia: the degree to which the international community via the Owen-Vance plan, or even the later Dayton accord, actively promoted or endorsed the destruction of a multi-ethnic society; the degree to which it helped to facilitate the creation of a greater Serbia or an enlarged Croatia; the degree to which it was, at the very least, an accessory after the fact to both 'ethnic cleansing' and sub-genocide.
  6. ^ Malik, John (2000). "The Dayton Agreement and Elections in Bosnia: Entrenching Ethnic Cleansing through Democracy". Stanford Journal of International Law. 36: 303.
  7. ^ Munich All Over Again?, Time, 31 August 1992
  8. ^ Latal, Srecko (1 October 1995). "U.S. Envoy Presses Ahead With Balkan Shuttle Diplomacy". Associated Press. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  9. ^ Hartwell, Leon (15 October 2019). "Conflict Resolution: Lessons from the Dayton Peace Process". Negotiation Journal. 35 (4): 443–469. doi:10.1111/nejo.12300. S2CID 210360406.
  10. ^ Pinfari, Marco (2013). Peace Negotiations and Time Deadline Diplomacy in Territorial Disputes. Routledge. p. 124.
  11. ^ "Dayton Accords". US Department of State. 30 March 1996. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d Cannon, P., The Third Balkan War and Political Disunity: Creating A Cantonal Constitutional System for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jrnl. Trans. L. & Pol., Vol. 5-2
  13. ^ Dayton Peace Agreement
  14. ^ Bosnia's bitter, flawed peace deal, 20 years on
  15. ^ Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, U-7/97, p. 2 and 3, Sarajevo, 22 December 1997
  16. ^ Vehabović, Faris (2006). Odnos Ustava Bosne i Hercegovine i Evropske konvencije za zaštitu ljudskih prava i osnovnih sloboda. Sarajevo: ACIPS, 24. ISBN 9958-9187-0-6
  17. ^ Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, U-1/03, Sarajevo, 25 July 2003.
  18. ^ "Bosnia-Hercegovina: A Failure in the Making: Human Rights and the Dayton Agreement". Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  20. ^ a b "Энгельгардт Георгий Николаевич. Республика Сербская в Боснии и Герцеговине. Возникновение и эволюция (1990–2006 гг.)". Институт славяноведения Российской академии наук (ИСл РАН). 4 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  21. ^ Rory Keane, Reconstructing sovereignty. Post-Dayton Bosnia uncovered, London: Ashgate 2001, p. 61
  22. ^ Bose, Sumantra (2002). Bosnia After Dayton: Nationalist Partition and International Intervention. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 216. ISBN 1-85065-585-5.
  23. ^ Stroschein, Sherrill (2014). "Consociational Settlements and Reconstruction: Bosnia in Comparative Perspective (1995–Present)". The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 656: 97–115. doi:10.1177/0002716214544459. S2CID 8830183.
  24. ^ Charles-Philippe David, "Alice in Wonderland meets Frankenstein: Constructivism, Realism and Peacebuilding in Bosnia", Contemporary Security Policy 22, No.1, 2001
  25. ^ Raphael Israeli; Albert Benabou (2013). Savagery in the Heart of Europe: The Bosnian War (1992–1995) Context, Perspectives, Personal Experiences, and Memoirs. Strategic Book. p. 380. ISBN 9781628570151.
  26. ^ Howard M. Hensel (2017). Sovereignty and the Global Community: The Quest for Order in the International System. Taylor & Francis. p. 208. ISBN 9781351148702.
  27. ^ McMahon, Patrice C.; Western, Jon (2009). "The Death of Dayton: How to Stop Bosnia From Falling Apart". Foreign Affairs (September/October).
  28. ^ Wolfgang Petritsch, "My lessons learnt in Bosnia and Herzegovina", Sarajevo, 2006
  29. ^ Yourdin, C (2003). "Society Building in Bosnia: A Critique of Post-Dayton Peacebuilding Efforts'". Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations. 4 (2): 59–74.
  30. ^ Chandler, David (2005). "From Dayton to Europe". International Peacekeeping. 12 (3): 336–349. doi:10.1080/13533310500074077. S2CID 144226240.
  31. ^ Kell, Kudlenko, S, A (2015). "Bosnia and Herzegovina 20 years after Dayton, complexity born of paradoxes" (PDF). International Peacekeeping. 22 (5): 471–489. doi:10.1080/13533312.2015.1103651. S2CID 146390988. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 19 April 2019.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ Berdal, M; Collantes-Celador, G. "Post-War Violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina". Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding: 75–94.
  33. ^ Rutar, Sabine (2013). "Nationalism in Southeastern Europe, 1970-2000". In Breuilly, John (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 528. ISBN 978-0-19-876820-3.
  34. ^ Morgan-Jones, Edward; Stefanovic, Djordje; Loizides, Neophytos (21 October 2020). "Citizen endorsement of contested peace settlements: public opinion in post-Dayton Bosnia". Democratization. 28 (2): 434–452. doi:10.1080/13510347.2020.1828356. ISSN 1351-0347. S2CID 226332147.
  35. ^ "Izgubljen original Dejtonskog sporazuma". Blic (in Serbian). 13 February 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  36. ^ "Francuska dostavila BiH kopiju Dejtonskog sporazuma". Politika (in Serbian). 16 November 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  37. ^ "Man arrested in possession of original Dayton Agreement". 1 November 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2018.

Further reading