Here are the conclusions I offered at the Dayton
Peace Accords at 20 Conference in Dayton, Ohio, which ended
Context matters. Dayton was not just
about Bosnia but represented a test of the West’s effort to achieve
a Europe whole and free at the start of the post-Cold War era.
That’s one reason it got the attention it did.
US leadership was critical, but so too
were the local, European and Russian contributions. Even when it
leads, the US needs partners and has to work with whoever is
Getting both the civilian and military
elements of US power pointed towards a clear goal is extraordinarily
difficult. Dick Holbrooke excelled at it.
Negotiating with your own people and
lining things up can be the hardest part of a negotiation. A lot was
agreed before Dayton, both within the US government and within the
international contact group, that was crucial to the ultimate
Two subjects are often neglected,
including at Dayton: economics and rule of law. They should not be
left aside, the first because resources are always an issue and the
second because it is vital and takes so long to establish.
Dayton worked because it provided
opportunities for powersharing and local autonomy.
It is these vital characteristics of 1995
that are causing problems twenty years later.
Inclusivity matters in ending a war, even
if it makes statebuilding more difficult.
Clear, shared goals are important, but so
too is the process for getting to them.
Timing is particularly important. It is
not clear, for example, that Syria is ripe for a negotiated
settlement. Bosnia was, largely due to the Federation offensive and
Milosevic’s need for an end to the war.
The war did end but the ethnoterritorial conflict
continues even today. Bosnia remains far from the ideals its young
people, several of whom spoke at Dayton, cherish: tolerance,
respect, equality and cooperation. The ways forward are clear, but
precisely how to achieve them is not:
The Reform Agenda the EU, IMF and IBRD
are pursuing is part of the solution, in particular if privatization
is conducted in transparent ways that prevent state assets falling
into the hands of crony capitalists.
Corruption is a major issue, but how to
get it under control is not clear.
An independent judiciary is vital to
accountability. The referendum proposed in Republika Srpska would
undermine the state judiciary and weaken prospects for
Political reforms that go beyond the
Reform Agenda will be necessary. This should include changes to the
electoral system that encourage more accountability, like
single-member electoral constituencies.
Separate ethnic education is an
unfortunate and persistent consequence of the war. Integrated
education in magnet schools (offering, for example, science,
technology, engineering and mathematics or education in English) is
one possible path towards a solution.
Increased respect for human rights–both
of individuals and groups–is important for all.
While these needs are clear, the balance between
international and Bosnian efforts is not. Some think the
international community has to be more forceful than it has been in
the last decade. Others think responsibility now lies principally
with the Bosnians, who should get international support, principally
through the European Union.
While progress in recent years has been slow and
serious obstacles remain, I believe that 20 years from now Bosnia
and Herzegovina will be an established member in good standing of
both NATO and the European Union. That is a worthy objective that
should motivate both the Bosnians and the international community.