The fractured soul of the dayton peace agreement: A legal analysis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed as a means to bring to an end the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.1 In the Western guarantor states the agreement was widely heralded as a triumph of diplomacy over chaos, reasoned agreement over crude warfare and as a multilateral agreement that forced confirmation of the legal existence and viability of the Bosnian state by all parties to the conflict. Despite the undeniable accomplishment of having ended mass fratricidal violence on Bosnian territory, the Agreement is a paradox of both substance and implementation. The DPA confirms the existence of the state yet contains ingredients that divide it into separate political and legal entities. The treaty pays homage to the language of selfreliance while ensuring that a long-term international presence remains a necessary element for the survival of the state. The Dayton Agreement fortifies the tripartite division of nation, community and individual in the new Bosnia where ethnic identity is all, and the body politic is a fractured soul. The Dayton Agreement was negotiated in a purposefully created hot­house environment at the secluded Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.2 It was signed by the negotiating parties and a group of guarantor states, who were prepared to endorse and materially support a peace settlement for the Bosnian war, in Paris on December 14, 1995. The Agreement came after numerous failed diplomatic attempts by Western mediators to secure an end to war. It is a complex package of interrelated texts augmented by Security Council resolutions that establish the international forces and organs which support the Peace Agreement.3 The DPA is the core of the compact between the belligerent parties. Its preamble acknowledges the need for a comprehensive settlement between all factions. The text of the Agreement makes broad commitments to military arrangements between the parties, demarcation lines, election programs, constitutional arrangements for Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the establishment of new commissions and institutions to support a peaceful transition and the observance of human rights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReconstructing Multiethnic Societies
Subtitle of host publicationThe Case of Bosni-Herzegovina
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781351789158
ISBN (Print)9781138636491
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


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