Dayton Agreement

"Dayton Treaty" redirects here. For the Native American treaty, see Treaty with the Kalapuya, etc.
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.
Drafted November 1995
Signed 14 December 1995
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Bosnia and Herzegovina

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 3 12-year-long Bosnian War, one of the Yugoslav Wars.

Negotiation and signature

Political division of Bosnia and Herzegovina after the 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 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 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 Yugoslavia (art. V, annex 1-B), thus in a regional perspective.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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"[6] 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.[7]

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% from 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.

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. One of the most important Bosnian Croat territories (Posavina with Bosanski Brod, Bosanski Šamac, Derventa) was left out of Bosnian Croat control.[4]

Control of Republika Srpska

Control 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;

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.[4] Many scholars refer 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 and Herzegovina "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-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."[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-Herzegovina.[15]

Secession of Republika Srpska

See also


  1. "Summary of the Dayton Peace Agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina". 30 November 1995. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  2. Munich All Over Again?, Time Magazine, 31 August 1992
  3. "Dayton Accords". US Department of State. 30 March 1996. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Cannon, P., The Third Balkan War and Political Disunity: Creating A Cantonal Constitutional System for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jrnl. Trans. L. & Pol., Vol. 5-2
  5. Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, U-7/97, p. 2 and 3, Sarajevo, 22 December 1997
  6. 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
  7. Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, U-1/03, Sarajevo, 25 July 2003.
  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". Blic (in Serbian). 13 February 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  15. "Francuska dostavila BiH kopiju Dejtonskog sporazuma". Politika (in Serbian). 16 November 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
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