Gentium News

Lessons Learned From the Dayton Peace Accords

  • 7th August 2018


Matthew Parish

Managing Partner, Gentium Law Group, Geneva

Honorary Professor, Comparative Civil Law and Litigation, University of Leicester

Fellow, Centre d’Histoire et de Prospective Militaires, Lausanne

Elected as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, 2013

Named by Bilan magazine as one of the three hundred most influential people in Switzerland

7 August 2018

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Lessons Learned

From the Dayton Peace Accords



The Dayton Peace Accords, formally known as the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were signed in Paris on 14 December 1995 and have remained one of the most controversial documents in the history of international peacekeeping. This paper considers their effectiveness over twenty years later, and asks what modern peacekeeping missions can learn from study of this distinctive approach to the resolution of a complex civil conflict.




Lessons Learned

From the Dayton Peace Accords



The December 1995 Dayton Peace Accords ended the various civil conflicts in the former Yugoslavia with the exception of the Serbia-Kosovo conflict, which would erupt some three years later.[i] The author was one of the international peacekeepers dispatched to oversee their implementation. This was one of the longest and most complex peace accords ever negotiated and signed. As a practising lawyer who became a peacekeeper, this author used to pore over this extended documentation religiously, trying to work out what it meant and what it required the parties, and international officials overseeing it to do. It was an enormously complex document, including some 11 articles and a further 11 annexes, each far more voluminous than the principal agreement to which it was an annex,[ii] to resolve a civil war in a small European country – Bosnia and Herzegovina – of a mere four million people.[iii] All the answers were supposed to be in the documentation. It was drafted by lawyers, not diplomats. One could tell. Whereas diplomats seek to elide confrontational issues using ambiguities, the Dayton Peace Accords faced the issues dividing the parties directly using legally crafted language. And then lawyers were brought in to interpret and  indeed to enforce it. A number of Bosnian civil servants – it would be impossible and superfluous to count how many but likely well over a hundred[iv] – were removed from office by an international supervisory authority because various international officials (including this author) had decided that their actions had violated the terms of the Dayton Peace Accords.


As something of a personal comment, this author is not sure what gave him the experience or professionalism, at the tender age of 31 (when he first arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina),[v] to make such momentous decisions about the careers of politicians, a number of whom had been democratically elected whereas he had not. Perhaps this is the first lesson to be drawn from the Dayton Peace Accords. If one imposes a legalistic solution upon the parties to a ferociously fought ethic civil war, you are going to need lawyers to apply and enforce it. Accordingly a regiment of foreign lawyers, of which this author was one of the highest-ranked despite his tender age and lack of peacekeeping experience (this was his first civil conflict), would be taking charge over implementation of a delicate peace process. Was that a good thing?


This author notes that he made several mistakes, and so did several of his colleagues in equivalent positions. They are all remembered them all to this day. But on balance the experiences of this author were one of pride of their work as a Bosnian peacekeeper, and this pride was probably deserved by a number of his colleagues. Nevertheless it is not certain to this author that giving lawyers so much power in the context of a contested peace process was necessarily a good idea. When the author arrived in Bosnia, he had little idea what he was doing. He had to learn on the job. If he made some good decisions, then it was in some sense pure good fortune for the Bosnians that those decisions turned out to be the right ones. The lawyer who is familiar with the political complexities of civil conflict is a rare creature, because legal training teachers lawyers to disregard political complexities in the interests of impartial application of the law. The first thing all international lawyers had to when they arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina was to de-learn the principles inculcated in them by their legal education. That gives rise to the following quandary. If a peacekeeping model entails lots of lawyers; but in order to be good peacekeepers those lawyers have to de-learn their professional instincts, then is the peacekeeping model a good one to adopt in the first place?


This leads into a more fundamental conceptual challenge to the way the Dayton Peace Accords were framed. The problem was not just that the people implementing it may not have been peacekeeping experts. It was more that legal resolution of a civil conflict is a difficult idea if the institutions of rule of law are not present – as inevitably they are not in a post-conflict environment. There Dayton Peace Accords were, in essence, (1) a map with lines on it, dividing territory between the three warring ethnic groups;[vi] (2) a series of hortatory propositions about the promotion of peace and unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressed in legalistic language in the body of the agreement;[vii] and (3) a series of detailed annexes full of legal language prescribing solutions to disputed issues as varied as reconstruction of items of cultural heritage destroyed in the war;[viii] procedures for refugee returns;[ix] and the rights of free movement of people and goods over the prescribed geographical borders dividing the ethnic groups each from the other. But for all the detail these annexes contained, there was no court one could apply to if you thought your rights under this documentation were being violated. Bosnia would be full of foreign peacekeeping troops in the war’s aftermath. But they were not court bailiffs. They did not want to read these annexes and apply them. Even if international civilian officials asked them to take measures they considered appropriate to enforce these legal documents, they did not answer to those civilian officials; UN civilian experts were not their commanding officers; they might have considered such requests militarily and/or politically unpropitious. In the event, international peacekeeping troops never did anything much that international civilian officials asked them to do, save in matters relating to personal security of the peacekeeping staff. This author always wondered why his opinion about anything, as a legal officer responsible for enforcing a legal document, actually mattered given that UN officials had no courts to call upon if their opinions were ignored and no enforcement authority either. Why didn’t everybody ignore the United Nations? The fact is that they didn’t. To a large extent, the word of a number of UN officials was law. To this day, this author does not fully understand why this was so, but let us try to provide a few hints towards the end of this essay.


Some Annexes to the Dayton Peace Accords were more or less completely ignored as quite unenforceable. One annex purported to create a series of human rights institutions – a Chamber and an Ombudsman[x] – that in practice did very little except make the international community feel better about the fact that they had stood by while the Bosnians had undertaken atrocious human rights violations against one-another amidst the carnage of bloody civil war.[xi] Another annex created a Commission for Displaced Persons and Refugees.[xii] This achieved virtually nothing. Levels of refugee return in post-war Bosnia were pitifully low,[xiii] as they are in the aftermath of the majority of civil conflicts.[xiv] An agreement to establish a series of Bosnian public corporations[xv] was, in the experience of this author, the only part of the Dayton Peace Accords that nobody he ever met had read. It made no sense whatsoever. Yet another annex created a UN International Police Task Force (“IPTF”), but the language of the annex was somewhat vague as to whether the IPTF were actually a police force who could arrest people or (as it turned out that they operated) a layer of UN bureaucrats who told domestic police officers what they ought to be doing.[xvi] In the event, the IPTF acquired an atrocious reputation for mismanagement and even participation in vice.[xvii]


Other parts of the Dayton Peace Accords were even more peculiar. Annex IV was an entire constitution for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia must stand as the only country in history whose constitution was imposed by international treaty. It was never ratified by anyone. Annex VI was an agreement on human rights: it sought to incorporate a list of enumerated human rights into a peace agreement and enshrine them as domestic law. It is tempting to imagine that the reason why certain annexes to the Dayton Peace Accords were ignored or ineffectively implemented is because inexperienced international peacekeeping lawyers focused upon certain aspects of the peace agreement to the exclusion of others.[xviii] Given there was no judicial framework for enforcement of this complex legal document, it just fell to the discretion of international officials, many of whom were undoubtedly well-meaning and some of whom may not have been, to decide where their priorities lay.


But in the view of this author, this would be a wrong way of viewing the Dayton Peace Accords. There were annexes to the Dayton Peace Accords relating to military drawdown that were observed.[xix] The problem with the Dayton Peace Accords was rather that there was a lot of material in the agreement that it was surprising to find in a peace treaty to conclude a civil conflict. The process of how the Dayton Peace Accords were drafted has always remained intentionally shrouded in diplomatic mystery, but this author knows how they were drafted and now the person who drafted them – who this author very much admired – has died, this article going to explain how they were drafted.[xx] In order to understand how much specious material fell into the documentation, we need to appreciate that actually all of these annexes were drafted by lawyers in the US State Department, under the direction of a retired US State Department Legal Advisor called Roberts Owen who was a friend of the chief US negotiator at Dayton, Richard Holbrooke,[xxi] and then Owen bolted all the annexes together. No official translation of the Dayton Peace Accords into the languages of the region was prepared.


These documents were drafted by busy young American foreign service lawyers, each of whom was instructed to draft an annex on an issue that it was imagined would be of importance in a peace agreement. The representatives of the negotiating parties – the head of the Bosnian Muslims, the President of Croatia and the President of what was left of Yugoslavia – came to the peace talks with no preprepared text, no legal advisors, and no obvious interest in what any of these annexes said or were even about. It was just assumed – most correctly – that they would be ignored. Hence the vast majority of the Dayton Peace Accords were not negotiated between the parties at all. They were just presented for signature by the Americans. That is why we find nonsense like the following written into the Dayton Peace Accords:


Where the Inter-Entity Boundary Line [the border between Muslim-Croat territory and Serb territory established by the Dayton Peace Accords and reflecting the ceasefire line] follows a river, the line shall follow natural changes (accretion or erosion) in the course of the river unless otherwise agreed. Artificial changes in the course of the river shall not affect the location of the Inter- Entity Boundary Line unless otherwise agreed. No artificial changes may be made except by agreement among the Parties.

In the event of sudden natural changes in the course of the river (avulsion or cutting of new bed), the line shall be determined by mutual agreement of the Parties. If such event occurs during the period in which the IFOR is deployed, any such determina- tion shall be subject to the approval of the IFOR Commander.


The idea that anyone in post-war Bosnia was going to follow natural accretion or erosion in the course of rivers in redrawing the ceasefire line between the parties was of course absurd. The idea that anyone, whether a domestic or international official or private party, was going to chart the course of erosion or accretion of rivers in this mostly mountainous country dotted with geographically isolated settlements in the aftermath of a war that had caused more than half the population to become refugees and damaged most of the country’s buildings, and also littered the country with minefields,[xxii] was beyond comprehension. Everyone had far more important things to do. Accretion or erosion of rivers that formed part of the ceasefire line cannot possibly have been a live issue at the Dayton Peace Accords. It would not have been on anybody’s minds. Some enthusiastic youthful attorney no doubt found language of this kind in a textbook on the international law of rivers that form political boundaries, and wrote it straight into an annex he was preparing to impress his boss.


It also seems that nobody proofread the Dayton Peace Accords before they were signed. The best demonstration of this was Article V.1 of Annex II, which famously read:


The Parties agree to binding arbitration of the disputed portion of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line in the Brcko area indicated on the map attached at the Appendix.


The fact that Roberts Owen served as the de facto sole arbitrator in this unusual arbitration,[xxiii] he himself having presided over the drafting of the arbitration clause, negotiation of the agreement of which it formed part, and who had close political connections to the US government and therefore could hardly pretend to be judicially independent,[xxiv] is an interesting illustration of the sorts of thing that were problematic about the Dayton Peace Accords at least from the perspective of legal theory. But more problematic still was that there was no map attached at the appendix. The Dayton Peace Accords were signed without anyone apparently noticing that part of them was missing.


It turned out that by far the most important annex to the Dayton Peace Accords was Annex 10, entitled “Agreement on Civilian Implementation”, that provided for the UN Security Council to issue resolutions creating a “High Representative”. Although the authorities of the High Representative appeared principally to be to serve as a mediator, in fact he served as an international dictator. Article V of Annex 10 provided that “The High Representative is the final authority in theater regarding interpretation of the civilian implementation of the peace settlement”. Subsequent High Representatives interpreted this as meaning that they had the power to impose legislation, appoint and dismiss public officials (even those democratically elected), and rule by executive decree where they considered it propitious.[xxv] The wording of Annex 10 clearly did not mean this, but that is what the High Representatives decided to do. They ruled as pro-consuls under colour of legal fiction.[xxvi]


Two parts of the Dayton Peace Accords survived intact. One was the map setting out the so-called “Inter-Entity Boundary Line” that divided Muslim / Croat territory from Serb territory. It is probably fair to say that this was the only part of the Dayton Peace Accords that interested the three ostensibly negotiating parties. They became obsessed with dividing villages.[xxvii] The other part that survived was Annex IV: the Constitution. The provisions for the constitutional arrangements in Bosnia and Herzegovina were the creation of a minimal central government apparatus presiding over two so-called “entities”, one of which, the “Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, was itself subdivided into 10 cantons some of which were Muslim and some of which were Croat; while the other of which, “Republika Srpska” (a phrase that defies easy translation into English but means something like “Serb Republic”), did not have federal subdivisions.


The whole system was lop-sided and, on paper at least, appeared rather silly. The reason it was devised like this was that (again under US pressure) the Bosnian Muslims and Croats made peace with one-another in 1994,[xxviii] a year earlier than they then jointly made peace with the Serbs. The Muslim-Croat peace plan envisaged the division of Bosnia into ethnically dominated cantons, but when the Dayton Peace negotiations finally arrived the Bosnian Serb negotiating position was strong enough to resist this and instead the Serbs insisted upon just one big canton, as it were, for themselves.[xxix] Accordingly Bosnian politics would be forever thereafter dominated by struggles for control between the cantons, the entities, the state and the High Representative.


Throughout the period of post-war international peacekeeping – which lasted a long time, from 1995 until about 2007 because successive High Representatives, having established themselves as colonial governors, were reluctant to relinquish the role[xxx] – the prevailing international community consensus was that this idiosyncratic constitutional arrangement, forced upon the parties at Dayton, was the reason for the country’s persistent continuing dysfunctionality and stood sorely in need of reform. But this virtually unique system of three-level federalism continues to operate more or less effectively to the present day. It could probably never be recreated elsewhere, and nor would one want to. But the reason it persists and is one of the successes of the Dayton Peace Accords was because it represented the actual military outcomes, with their corresponding political consequences, at the time the Dayton Peace Accords were signed. In this regard, the Dayton Peace Accords were a success because they created a stable constitutional arrangement reflecting the military stalemate resulting in the peace negotiations. In the view of this author, the Bosnians were undoubtedly a difficult group of people with whom to mediate a peace agreement. They had fought an exceptionally bloody three and a half year civil war, and it is worth observing that the number of deaths per head of population was far higher in the Bosnian war than in the more recent Syrian civil war.[xxxi] The principal politicians had to be forced by the US Government to travel to the United States, and they were forced to live in a US air force base for three weeks until they had agreed and initialled a peace agreement.[xxxii] That, of course, is why the Dayton Peace Accords contained so many non-negotiated and ill thought through annexes. The signatories just wanted to get out of a US air force base and go back home. They didn’t care what they signed. They may well not have read it; given it was written in complex American legal English and they were not native speakers and they had no legal advisors, even if they had read it and very likely didn’t understand it.[xxxiii]


What are the lessons from all of this? One temptation might be to say that the whole thing was so unusual as to be sui generis and there are no lessons to be learned at all. But that would be too quick. Parties often sign peace agreements under circumstances of extreme external pressure. The fact that the negotiating parties were effectively treated as prisoners in the process of so-called negotiation that the Americans imposed upon them does not mean that the Dayton Peace Accords had no effect. The peace agreement was enormously influential, notwithstanding the chorus of public criticisms it faced over a period of more than twenty years after it was signed. First and foremost, it kept the peace. Bosnia has had no more war and has remained astonishingly peaceful. Secondly, the Constitution, which created so complex a government system in which each canton has a Prime Minister and legislature; each Entity has a Prime Minister and legislature; the state has a Prime Minister and legislature, and public authorities are fairly clearly defined and distributed between the three constitutional levels, has persevered. It was a good constitution because people observed it and they continue to to do so. All these various prime ministers and parliamentarians continue to be elected into office and, by and large, confine their actions to within the limits prescribed to them by the Constitution.


This author’s own instinct – and it is nothing more than that because he was not imprisoned in Dayton Air Force Base in Ohio with the negotiating parties and a group of US State Department lawyers – is that a high-quality, experienced constitutional lawyer drafted Annex IV – the Constitution; an experienced peacekeeping specialist drafted the first two annexes, that relate to military drawdown; and the other annexes were drafted by lawyers without experience of the realities of post-war peacekeeping which is why in large part they remained unimplemented. They could not be implemented in a post-war setting, but the draftspersons responsible for these sections of the Dayton Peace Accords did not understand that because they did not have any experience of working in post-conflict environments.


Hence perhaps the first lesson to be learned from the Dayton Peace Accords is that the people who draft peace agreements need to be experienced in the realities of supervising post-conflict military de-escalations and the replacement of military by civilian government. While lawyers are experienced in drafting complex agreements, there are admittedly few lawyers who have this sort of experience. This author freely admits that when he arrived in Bosnia, he did not have any post-conflict peacekeeping experience and he had to learn on the job how to do it. Lawyers with this kind of experience are important if you want to make a peace agreement effective rather than just a document.


There is also a more positive lesson to be learned from the drafting process of the Dayton Peace Accords. A well-drafted legal document, in the Dayton case the Constitution and the military drawdown provisions, can be enormously valuable. If the legal job is done properly, then a good piece of legal drafting may actually work. For this reason we must not draw the conclusion that lawyers should not be involved in the process of negotiating a peace treaty because lawyers do not know anything about peacekeeping. Lawyers are just one kind of peacekeeper, who are experts in a number of things very important to peacekeeping missions: the role of legal institutions in legitimising government, the way legislation influences behaviour, and effective means of restraining police authorities, to offer just three examples. You just need the right lawyers. And there aren’t that many of them.


The next lesson is that the legal imposition model of conflict resolution is not necessarily as fatally flawed as some cynics might imagine. The fact that the Dayton Peace Accords contained the world’s only constitution imposed by international treaty, and without a process of consent by the citizens who would be subject to it,[xxxiv] did not make it a bad constitution or incapable of implementation. The parties present at Dayton airforce base could probably never have written this constitution themselves; they were insufficiently legally sophisticated. But an intelligently-drafted constitution, sensitive to the political and military realities yet trying to craft them into a sustainable political system, turned out to be a very valuable contribution to post-war peace. This author’s view is that Bosnia’s contemporary malaise does not derive from constitutional errors but rather from the afflictions affecting the region as a whole: lack of foreign investment, poor infrastructure, low rule of law and unwieldy regulation. About the only good thing to be said to a putative foreign direct investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina is that it is generally clear which politician you need to go to speak to, because the politicians’ respective competencies are authoritatively defined.


Now this author will offer a somewhat more facile lesson, namely that if the international community wishes to exercise suzerainty or quasi-colonial governorship over a post-conflict territory, then what the legal documents actually say is mostly irrelevant. The putative international governor will find a way, as did the High Representatives. They twisted legal language to mean what they wanted it to mean. This is a common feature of international law: with no independent international court available to adjudicate and enforce disputes about what the wording of a treaty means, the party with the power to apply the treaty decides what it means. The High Representatives went around dismissing dozens of elected officials from office, and imposing hundreds of pages of legislation. The fact that the Dayton Peace Accords did not upon any reasonable interpretation give them this power mattered not one jot. They decided that they did; they had the cooperation of the international military forces present in the country; and that was the end of it.


But there is another lesson here, which is that the High Representatives’ authoritarian legalism, imposing legislation and summarily dismissing public officials they perceived as uncooperative with their reform agendas, was almost certainly a bad idea particularly because it lasted so long. Dismissing domestic officials who do not agree with an international governor hardly facilitates the blossoming of peaceful democracy. It makes local people think that the international community is as bad as whatever the local people were doing that led up to war, and all the talk promoted by the international community of peaceful democratic co-existence is a sham. To the extent that one believes that successful peacekeeping includes a gradual but constant change in political attitudes in the affected country, this sort of international heavy-handedness hardly seems helpful. It is particularly noteworthy now, with the benefit of hindsight, that relatively few of the High Representatives’ imposed decisions survived the test of time. Some particularly disruptive politicians were eliminated; but in many cases they were just replaced with other politicians who were equally if not more disruptive.[xxxv] Ethnic conflict produces such politicians, and you cannot magically wish them away with the stroke of a UN official’s pen.


The legislation imposed by successive High Representatives committed another sin – that of the legal transplant. In many cases foreign lawyers would draft legislation that they thought it would be in the interests of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole to adopt. They then presented that legislation to the relevant Bosnian parliament(s), and asked them to enact it. When those parliaments did what do parliaments tend to do – negotiate terms to take into account competing political interest groups, or add so-called porkbarrel clauses providing subsidies to groups relevant to their electoral constituencies, the lawyers would take their impeccably drafted legislation to the High Representative and ask him to impose it by decree.[xxxvi] The result of this was that the process of political maturity any parliament needs to develop in a post-conflict society aspiring to democratic standards – was held back. Parliamentarians rightly asked themselves what the point of debating and negotiating legislation was, since it was ultimately going to be imposed by an autocrat. Democratic development was thereby retarded.


Potentially an even graver problem with these legal transplants was that because foreign lawyers had drafted the legislation with a legal training in mind different from the legal culture of the host country, the legislation as enacted was very difficult for local lawyers and judges to interpret. Save for a specialist in comparative law, it can be difficult to appreciate that lawyers with training and experience in different legal cultures may interpret the same words to have different legal effect. The logic of legal language varies from one legal culture to the next.[xxxvii] The effect is amplified if legislation is drafted in a different language from that in which it is expected to be interpreted and applied. The net result of this is that the international community ended up drafting and enacting substantial quantities of potentially important legislation that local lawyers did not understand. The outcome was that it was not implemented; or it was applied perversely, as part of a complex game of political football between the previously warring parties in which they attributed praise or blame to the High Representative and the various UN officials distributed across the country in accordance with whatever was politically convenient at the time.


One might characterise the Dayton approach to peacekeeping as legal colonialism. This concept does not follow automatically from the contents of the Dayton Peace Accords themselves. Rather it follows from the philosophy of the Dayton draftspersons. The Americans were of the view that the parties’ representatives were so incompetent or intransigent that they were going to do all the work for them, creating a legalistic peace structure out of thin air and then continuing to govern post-war Bosnia on a quasi-colonial basis using much the same philosophy. The model did badly, in the sense that the international community and the local people found themselves engaged in a post-war conflict about the future direction of the country[xxxviii] that obscured the principal real problem facing Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely lack of economic development. The conflict between international community direction over the country and the way the local people wanted things to be was resolved only when, after an agonisingly extended period, the international community eventually gave up. Then things went back to what the original constitution had prescribed.


The length of the Dayton Peace Accords – the document was littered with provisions and annexes that were not useful or even ended up being ignored – was a disadvantage. Whenever an international official engaged in post-war peacekeeping in Bosnia was looking for something to do (typically rather than tackling the intractable problems facing a post-war economy), (s)he might find a hitherto obscure provision of the Dayton Peace Accords that they decided they would focus upon implementing. Nothing ever came of these efforts, of course. The complexity of the Dayton Peace Accords enabled the post-war international bureaucracies that polluted Bosnia to become even more bulbous than they would ordinarily be predisposed towards. What one might generously describe as over-intensive international supervision of post-war Bosnian politics was facilitated by needless legalism in the original documentation. The reason they Dayton agreement worked, to the extent that it did, was because the local parties wanted it to work. This may be the reason why international imposition was periodically accepted: the local parties wanted an international imposition to resolve their own domestic political problems. To the extent that the Dayton Peace Accords reflected things that Bosnia’s domestic politicians did not want, they were ignored.


Possibly one of the hardest lessons to learn for a peacekeeper is that doing less is often best. The Dayton Peace Accords were grossly over-ambitious. They should have been shorter, and the persons drafting them should have been more modest in their ambitions. The quantities of money spent by the international community in so-called reconstruction of post-war Bosnia were and remain unprecedented upon a per capita basis.[xxxix] Given the poor contemporary condition of Bosnia’s economic development over twenty years after the end of the war,[xl] one must ask whether those funds were spent well. The counterfactual hypothesis of whether Bosnia’s current state of peace and development might have been no better had substantially less been spent by the international community, or spent in a different way, should be asked. That is an empirical question for future historians and well beyond the scope of this modest essay. Nevertheless this author’s instinctual answer is one of scepticism.

[i] For a succinct recent history of the Serbia-Kosovo conflict, see e.g. Tim Judah, Kosovo: What Everyone Needs to Know (OUP 2008).

[ii] The University of Minnesota Human Rights Library maintains an online edition of the Dayton Peace Accords and all its annexes and other relevant documents. See

[iii] According to official statistics of the Bosnian government, the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina was some 3.517 million as of 2016. Official statistics suggest that the population of the country has remained fairly static since the end of the war in 1995. However the working assumption of many UN and other international officials is that taking into account persons left out of the official figures for whatever reason (the issue of census in post-war Bosnia is politically contentious for reasons that fall outside the scope of this essay), the contemporary population of post-war Bosnia is approximately 4 million.

[iv] The only known attempt to count the number of Bosnian civil servants actually removed from office by international dictate was made by this author, in Matthew Parish, A Free City in the Balkans (I.B. Tauris 2009).

[v] The experiences of this author were recorded in A Free City in the Balkans, ibid.

[vi] The Dayton Peace Accords describe this plan as being Appendix A to Annex 1A to the Dayton Peace Accords, but actually a finding a copy of that plan is less than easy. The author has seen one (in fact he had it hanging on the wall of his office; it was larger than A1) but cannot be certain that any plan he has seen since leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina is precisely the same as the copy he had access to. The US military has retained and publishes copies of the actual plans used during the Dayton negotiations. See The briefest of perusals of these materials will indicate just how complex the issue of maps really was. The story of the “Dayton maps” has never really been narrated with detailed analysis, although US chief negotiator Richard Holbrooke alluded to the complexities in Richard Holbrooke, To End a War (Penguin Random House 1999).

[vii] See e.g. Dayton Peace Accords Article I; Annex 1A Article I; Annex IB Articles I and II. These examples barely do justice to the proliferation of hortatory commitments littered throughout the Dayton Peace Accords.

[viii] For cultural heritage obligations, see Annex 8 to the Dayton Peace Accords.

[ix] Refugee returns are the subject of Annex 7 to the Dayton Peace Accords.

[x] These institutions are ostensibly created by Annex 6 to the Dayton Peace Accords.

[xi] For a contemporary account see e.g. David Rieff, Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (Touchstone 1995).

[xii] Annex 7, Chapter Two.

[xiii] See e.g. (although there is a colossal amount of literature upon this subject) Marita Eastmond, Transnational Returns and Reconstruction in Post-war Bosnia, International Migration 44(3): August 2006, 141-166.

[xiv] See Roland Paris, At War’s End: Building Peace After Civil Conflict (CUP 2004).

[xv] Annex 9 to the Dayton Peace Accords.

[xvi] Annex 11 to the Dayton Peace Accords.

[xvii] The author himself recorded some of these events, in Parish, ibid.; for one example of corroboration, see e.g. Lia Petridis Maiello, When Peacemakers Become Perpetrators, Huffington Post 19 February 2013.

[xviii] This is admittedly just the personal anecdotal experience of this author.

[xix] Annexes 1A and 1B to the Dayton Peace Accords.

[xx] The reason the author of this article knows this is that Roberts Owen told him how the Dayton Peace Accords were prepared, in a series of private conversations in Washington, D.C. between 2007 and 2009. The reason this author has decided to expose what were undoubtedly intended to be confidential conversations, albeit informal ones undertaken outside the context of any legal, political or diplomatic framework, is because this information is of value to the study of international peacekeeping. I do not believe that, had he still been alive, Roberts Owen would have objected to my making these disclosures in 2018.

[xxi] Holbrooke, ibid.

[xxii] For a statement of the mine contamination situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as of 2015, see Centar za uklanjanje mina u Bossi i Hercegovni,

[xxiii] For an account of these events, see Parish, ibid.

[xxiv] Owen was US State Department Legal Advisor under US President Jimmy Carter. The information relayed herein is in the personal knowledge of the author, on the basis of information Owen conveyed to him in informal private meetings.

[xxv] See e.g. David Chandler, Bosnia: Faking Democracy after Dayton (Pluto Press 2000).

[xxvi] See e.g. Tim Banning, The ‘Bonn Powers’ of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Tracing a Legal Figment, Goettingen Journal of International Law 6 (2014) 2, 259-302.

[xxvii] Holbrooke, ibid.; personal interviews of the author with Robert W. Farrand, first International Supervisor of Brcko.

[xxviii] The so-called “Washington Agreement” of 1 March 1994 between Bosnian Muslim and Croat representatives is a brief document the effect of which was to create a political division of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a series of cantons. Its contents are now often forgotten, but the United States Institute of Peace has preserved a copy on its website available at:

[xxix] This single Serb-dominated canton came to be called “Republika Srpska”, as it was named in the Dayton Peace Accords. For accounts of how it was negotiated and developed, see Holbrooke, ibid.; Parish, ibid.

[xxx] See e.g. David Chandler, ed., Peace without Politics? Ten Years of State-Building in Bosnia (Routledge 2007).

[xxxi] The following are the author’s estimates based upon his own assessments of competing sources of death tolls in each of the Bosnian and Syrian civil wars. In this author’s estimations, the proportion of the population that died in the Bosnian civil war was in the region of 2.5% whereas the population of the population that died in the Syrian civil war (at the time of writing) was in the region of 0.5%.

[xxxii] There is no better account of the pressurised circumstances in which the Balkan parties were compelled to negotiate a resolution of the Bosnian war than that contained in Holbrooke, ibid. To the best of the knowledge of this author, Holbrooke was the only person present at the Dayton peace negotiations who wrote an account of those negotiations.

[xxxiii] Holbrooke himself comes close to admitting this: Holbrooke, ibid.

[xxxiv] Notoriously, there was no referendum or parliamentary vote of approval for the “Dayton Constitution” of any kind.

[xxxv] The most notorious such politician in all likelihood was Milorad Dodik, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, installed by the international community in the late 1990’s to replace Bosnian Serb politicians perceived as excessively nationalist, only himself to become a totem of Bosnian Serb nationalism in the first decade of the twenty-first century. See Parish, ibid., for an account of the transformation of Dodik from internationally-supported moderate to Bosnian Serb nationalist bogeyman.

[xxxvi] The author himself did this routinely. The current Statute of Brcko District, a constitutional document for a contested region of northeastern Bosnia subject to particularly close international supervision, was drafted by the author and imposed by international dictate.

[xxxvii] There is substantial comparative law literature upon this subject, but this author’s personal favourite and revelatory is John Henry Merryman, The French Deviation, American Journal of Comparative Law, 44(1) (1996), 109-119.

[xxxviii] This is a point emphasised by the author in Matthew Parish, Paradigms of State-Building: Comparing Bosnia and Kosovo, Journal of Eurasian Law, 3(3) (2010).

[xxxix] See e.g. Merima Zupcevic and Fikret Causevic, Case Study: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Centre for Developing Studies – McGill University and the World Bank (Sarajevo 2009).

[xl] The CIA World Factbook, 2018 includes the following observations: “Bosnia and Herzegovina has a transitional economy with limited market reforms. The economy relies heavily on the export of metals, energy, textiles, and furniture as well as on remittances and foreign aid. A highly decentralized government hampers economic policy coordination and reform, while excessive bureaucracy and a segmented market discourage foreign investment. The economy is among the least competitive in the region.” It cites unemployment as 20.5%, population below the poverty line as 17.2%, and GBP per capita as US$11,400 (2017 figures).