|Drafted||1 November 1995|
|Signed||14 December 1995|
The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement or the Dayton Accords, (Bosnian: Dejtonski mirovni sporazum, Serbian: Dejtonski mirovni sporazum, Croatian: Daytonski sporazum) is the peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, United States, on 1 November 1995, and formally signed in Paris, on 14 December 1995. These accords put an end to the 3 1⁄2-year-long Bosnian War, one of the 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 the Croat-Bosniak Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Though basic elements of the Dayton Agreement were proposed in international talks as early as 1992, 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, 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 Republic of Serbia Slobodan Milošević (representing the Bosnian Serb interests due to the absence of Karadžić), President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman, and President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Alija Izetbegović with his Foreign Minister Muhamed Šaćirbeg.
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.
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. Holbrooke used a great variety of carrots and sticks to make the conflict 'ripe' for peace.
After having been initiated in Dayton, Ohio, on 21 November 1995, the full and formal agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995 and witnessed by Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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" 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.
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) 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 improved the quality of the land. Large tracts of prewar Bosniak (and Bosnian Croat) inhabited lands remained under Bosnian Serb control.
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) have 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. One of the most important Bosnian Croat territories (Posavina with Bosanski Brod, Bosanski Šamac, Derventa) was left out of Bosnian Croat control.
Brčko District was divided;
The immediate purpose of the agreement was to freeze the military confrontation and prevent it from resuming. It was thefore defined as a "construction of necessity".
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. Scholars such as Canadian professor Charles-Philippe David calls Dayton "the most impressive example of conflict resolution". American scholar Howard M. Hensel states that "Dayton represents an example of a conflict resolution negotiation that was successful. 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".
Wolfgang Petritsch, OHR, 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".
The Dayton Agreement has been the subject of criticism since its inception, including:
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 Lajčak said: "I don't know whether the news is sad or funny". 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. The original was found in 2017 in a private residence in Pale, resulting in arrest of one person.
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