The Bosnia Agreement: Understanding the Peace Accords
The Bosnia Agreement, also known as the Dayton Accords, is a peace agreement that ended the Bosnian War in 1995. The agreement was brokered by the United States, European Union, and Russia, and was signed by the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia. The accord established Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent country and created a federal system of government.
The agreement came after years of conflict that erupted in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in 1992, which was met with opposition from Bosnian Serbs who wanted to remain part of Yugoslavia. The conflict quickly turned into a brutal war that saw widespread ethnic cleansing and atrocities committed against civilians.
The Dayton Accords were signed on November 21, 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, after three weeks of negotiations. The agreement sought to achieve three main objectives: to end the fighting, to create a lasting peace, and to establish a framework for a united Bosnia and Herzegovina. The agreement also created the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, an international figure tasked with overseeing the implementation of the accord.
Under the Bosnia Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is predominantly Bosniak and Croat, and the Republika Srpska, which is predominantly Serb. The agreement also created a three-member presidency, consisting of one Bosniak, one Croat, and one Serb, and a bicameral parliament, which included the House of People and the House of Representatives.
The Dayton Accords have been criticized for their lack of transparency and their failure to address the underlying issues that led to the war. The agreement did not address the issue of war crimes or provide a mechanism for prosecuting those responsible for atrocities committed during the conflict. Some argued that the agreement solidified ethnic divides in Bosnia and Herzegovina and institutionalized the conflict.
Despite these criticisms, the Bosnia Agreement succeeded in ending the war and establishing a framework for a peaceful, democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative has played a significant role in stabilizing the country and enforcing the terms of the accord. The agreement remains an important landmark in the history of the Balkans and serves as an example of how international cooperation can help to resolve conflicts.