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Dayton 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.
Drafted November 1995
Signed 14 December 1995
  •  FR Yugoslavia
  •  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  •  Croatia
  •  France
  •  United Kingdom
  •  Germany
  •  Russia
  •  European Union[1]
  • The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement, Dayton Accords, Paris Protocol or Dayton-Paris Agreement, is the peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, United States, in November 1995, and formally signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. These accords put an end to the three and a half-year long Bosnian War, one of the armed conflicts in the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.

    Negotiation and signature

    Political division of Bosnia and Herzegovina after Dayton Agreement.

    Territorial changes

    Though basic elements of the Dayton Agreement were proposed in international talks as early as 1992,[2] 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 USA and Russia), gathered in the Contact Group, applied intense pressure to the leaders of the three sides to attend the negotiations in Dayton, Ohio.

    The conference took place from 1–21 November 1995. The main participants from the region were the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milošević (representing the Bosnian Serb interests due to absence of Karadžić), President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman, and President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Alija Izetbegović with his Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey.

    The peace conference was led by U.S. 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 (later to become NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) in 1997). The head of the UK team was Pauline Neville-Jones. The UK military representative was Col Arundell David Leakey (later to become Commander of EUFOR in 2005). Paul Williams, through the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) served as legal counsel to the Bosnian Government delegation during the negotiations.

    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; 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. After having been initialled in Dayton, Ohio on 21 November 1995, the full and formal agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995[3] and witnessed by French president Jacques Chirac, U.S. President Bill Clinton, UK prime minister John Major, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

    Content of the agreement

    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 Republic of Yugoslavia (art. V, annex 1-B), thus in a regional perspective.

    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.

    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 through 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.

    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.

    Decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    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 they alleged that the agreement violated the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a way that it undermined the integrity of the state and that it may cause the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Court reached the conclusion that it is not competent to decide the disputes in regards to the mentioned decisions, since the applicants were not subjects that were identified in Article VI.3 (a) of the Constitution, in regard to those who can refer disputes to the Court. The Court also rejected the other request stating:

    (...) 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.[4]

    This 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"[5] of the entire peace agreement, which further implied that all the annexes are in the hierarchical equality. In later decisions the Court confirmed this by using other annexes of the peace agreement as a direct base for the analysis and 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.[6]

    Territorial changes

    Before the Dayton 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% of Bosnian Croats and some small amounts from Bosniaks), but they were pressured to surrender Sarajevo and some vital Eastern Bosnian/Herzegovian positions. All in all by changing quality to quantity their percentage grew to 49% (48 if excluding the Brčko District, 24,526 km2) from a little bit more than 46% prior to Dayton.

    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 from 28% prior to Dayton to 30% and they greatly upheld quality of the gotten land. Large tracts of prewar Bosniak (and Bosnian Croat) inhabited lands remained under Bosnian Serb Control.[7]

    Bosnian Croats gave most (4% of BiH territories) back to the Bosnian Serbs (9% of today's RS), and also retreated from Una-Sana canton as well Donji Vakuf (in Central Bosnia canton) municipality afterward. Small enlargement of Posavina canton (Odžak and parts of Domaljevac municipality) has not changed the fact that after Dayton Bosnian Croats controlled just 21% of Bosnia and Herzegovina (10,640 km2) especially when compared to more than 25% prior to Dayton. It is important to note that one of the most important Bosnian Croat territories (Posavina with Bosanski Brod, Bosanski Šamac, Derventa and Modriča) was still left out of Bosnian Croat control.

    Control of Republika Srpska

    • About 89.5%(22,059 km2) was under control of Bosnian Serbs
    • About 9% (2,117 km2) of today's territories of Republika Srpska was controlled by Bosnian Croat forces; mainly in municipalities of, Šipovo, Petrovac, Istočni Drvar, Jezero, Kupres (RS) and part of Banja Luka municipality
    • About 1.5% (350 km2) of today's territories of RS was controlled by Bosniak forces; mainly some villages in Ozren (Doboj and Petrovo municipalities), and western Bosnia (Krupa, and parts of Novi Grad and Oštra Luka municipalities)

    Control of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    • About 53% (13,955 km2) of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was under Bosniak control
    • About 41% (10,720 km2) of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was under Bosnian Croat control
    • About 6% (1,435 km2) was under control of Bosnian Serbs


    Canton 10:

    • was almost completely under control of Bosnian Croats (4,924 km2)
    • Bosniaks controlled some points east of Kupres (10 km2)

    Una-Sana Canton:

    • was almost completely under control of Bosniaks (3,925 km2)
    • Bosnian Croats controlled some mountain passes on the southern parts of Bosanski Petrovac and Bihać municipalities (200 km2)

    West Herzegovina Canton:

    • was completely under Bosnian Croat control (1,362 km2)

    Herzegovina-Neretva Canton:

    • was divided, more than half was under Bosnian Croat control (2,525 km2)
    • northern and central parts were under Bosniak control (1,666 km2)
    • eastern mountains were under Bosnian Serb control (210 km2)

    Central Bosnia Canton:

    • was divided, a bit more than a third was under Bosnian Croat control (1,099 km2)
    • rest was under control of Bosniaks (2,090 km2)

    Zenica-Doboj Canton:

    • was largely under Bosniak control (2,843 km2)
    • there were some small enclaves like Žepče, Usora, Daštansko under Bosnian Croat control (400 km2)
    • eastern mountains were under Bosnian Serb control (100 km2)

    Tuzla Canton:

    • was largely under Bosniak control (2,544 km2)
    • there were some villages in Gradačac municipality under Bosnian Croat control (5 km2)
    • and some villages in Doboj and Gračanica municipalities under Bosnian Serb control (100 km2)

    Posavina Canton:

    • was mostly under Bosnian Croat control (205 km2)
    • Bosnian Serbs controlled Odžak and parts of Domaljevac municipalities (120 km2)

    Bosnian Podrinje Canton:

    • was mostly under Bosniak control (405 km2)
    • Bosnian Serbs controlled areas which linked it with Sarajevo (100 km2)

    Sarajevo Canton:

    • was mostly under Bosnian Serbs control (800 km2)
    • while Bosniaks controlled some southern suburbs and most of the city itself (477 km2)

    Brčko District was divided;

    • Bosniaks controlled most of its southern parts (200 km2)
    • Bosnian Serbs its northern parts (193 km2)
    • While Bosnian Croats controlled the rest, part near Orašje municipality and two enclaves on southern parts of municipality (100 km2)

    Analysis and criticism

    The immediate purpose of the agreement was to freeze the military confrontation, and prevent them at all costs from resuming. It was thefore defined as a "construction of necessity".[8]

    Despite this, the Dayton Agreement proved to be a highly flexible instrument, allowing Bosnia and Herzegovina to move from an early post-conflict phase through reconstruction and consolidation, passing from a consociationalist approach to a more integrationist one. Many scholars refers to it as "the most impressive example of conflict resolution".[9] Wolfgang Petritsch, OHR, has argued that the Dayton framework has allowed the international community to move "from statebuilding via institutions and capacity-building to identity building", putting Bosnia "on the road to Brussels"[10]

    Nevertheless, Dayton's main shortcomings may be described as:

    1. enabling international actors (such as the OHR), unaccountable to BiH's citizens, to shape the agenda of post-war transition, up to enacting punishment over local political actors[11]
    2. leaving each ethnic group discontent with the results: the Bosnian Serbs for the somehow limited results (although strongly favored in statistical terms), such as the arbitration over the Brcko district; the Bosniaks for ignoring the human rights issues such as the Srebrenica massacre and recognizing Serbian entities such as the Republika Srpska; the Bosnian Croats for the lack of equality, lacking a Croat Entity.[12]
    3. according to University of Leipzig professor and Bosnian Academy of Sciences and Arts member Edin Šarčević, the current legal structure of the agreement does not abide by the basic principles of international law and the secular concept of national citizenship, making the Bosnian territorial and political situation continually unstable and fractious since its implementation in 1995.[13]

    Disappearance of the original document

    On 13 February 2008, the head of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Komšić said that the original Dayton Agreement was lost from the Presidency's archive. High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Miroslav Lajčak said: "I don't know whether the news is sad or funny."[14] 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 and Herzegovina.[15]

    See also


    1. "Summary of The Dayton Peace Agreement". 11 December 1995. Archived from the original on 14 Dec 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
    2. Munich All Over Again?, Time Magazine, 31 August 1992
    3. "Dayton Peace Accords on Bosnia". USA State Department. 30 March 1996. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2006. 
    4. Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, U-7/97, p. 2 and 3, Sarajevo, 22 December 1997
    5. 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
    6. Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, U-1/03, Sarajevo, 25 July 2003.
    7. Source:
    8. Rory Keane, Reconstructing sovereignty. Post-Dayton Bosnia uncovered, London: Ashgate 2001, p.61
    9. Charles-Philippe David, "Alice in Wonderland meets Frankenstein: Constructivism, Realism and Peacebuilding in Bosnia", Contemporary Security Policy 22, No.1, 2001
    10. Wolfgang Petritsch, "My lessons learnt in Bosnia and Herzegovina", Sarajevo, 2006
    11. David Chandler, "From Dayton to Europe", International Peacekeeping 12, No.3, 2005, pp. 336
    12. Giulio Venneri, Modelling States from Brussels?, December 2007
    13. "Ethnic Segregation as a Desirable Constitutional Position?", Bosnian Institute, 9 December 2008
    14. "Izgubljen original Dejtonskog sporazuma" (in Serbian). Blic. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
    15. "Francuska dostavila BiH kopiju Dejtonskog sporazuma" (in Serbian). 16 November 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 

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