The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The General Framework Agreement, also known as the Dayton Peace Agreement, Dayton Accords, Paris Protocol or Dayton-Paris Agreement, is the peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, in the United States, in November 1995, and formally signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. This Agreement put an end to the Bosnian war that had started in April 1992.
The political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) created by the Dayton Peace Agreement comprise two ‘entities’ – the Federation of BiH, with mostly Bosniaks and Croats as its ‘constituent peoples’, and the Republika Srpska, with mostly Serbs – plus, since 1999, Brčko District as a self-governing administrative unit under the sovereignty of BiH.
Text of Agreement online at www.ohr.int/dpa/default.asp?content_id=379
The aim of creating ethnically homogeneous statelets was curbed at Dayton but the dominance of ethnic politics was not.
Annex 7 to the Dayton Peace Agreement was designed to address the displacement of 2.2 million people during the Bosnian war of 1992-95. Its job is not yet done.
Twenty years after Dayton, failures to facilitate effective refugee and IDP return have had a social and political impact at both community and state level.
The coming two-and-a-half years represent what is possibly the last window of opportunity to accomplish what the Dayton Peace Agreement’s Annex 7 set out to achieve.
Protracted refugee situations are usually a result of political deadlock, and their resolution demands the involvement of a range of actors and a multifaceted approach focused on leveraging political will. Despite its shortcomings, the Regional Process in the Western Balkans offers a number of lessons for resolving such situations.
“These people are as if lost in time and space.” Still displaced after 20 years, residents of collective centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina share their frustration. They need to be listened to.
Sidelining a rights-based approach in the area of property restitution and reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina resulted in an unequal impact on rural versus urban displaced populations.
A social housing methodology recently introduced in Bosnia and Herzegovina illustrates the need for certain key components in any strategy to address the shelter and livelihoods needs of vulnerable citizens.
New research is attempting to address the lack of empirical grounding for much of the psychosocial programming in post-war trauma in the Western Balkans.
An ethnically divided educational system in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to limit the sustainable return, and to hamper reconciliation and the reconstruction of society.
Sustainable refugee return can only take place in Bosnia and Herzegovina when ordinary people and human rights activists are included as full participants in the recovery process.
When a peace agreement guarantees the rights of certain groups but not all, limitations to the enjoyment of human rights are inevitable.
The exclusion of women from the process of making peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina has diminished the prospects for sustainable peace. When will we learn that no peace can be sustainable and just without the active and meaningful participation of women?
Emphasising the crucial role of refugee returns to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina risks minimising the agency of those who choose not to exercise their rights under Annex 7.
Once there is a genuine possibility of going home, what influences a forced migrant’s decision to return to a pre-conflict residence, often in the face of very difficult conditions? What role can remote voting play?
The experiences of displaced people in Sarajevo show that living in a place that people perceive to be safe and to provide opportunities can be more desirable than returning to one’s place of origin. Participatory urban projects can help foster the sense of community which is still missing.
Some IDPs living in protracted displacement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as many Roma IDPs, were especially vulnerable to the effects of the May 2014 flooding and landslides.
Public memorialisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina today is an act of remembering not just those who died in the conflict but also the multi-ethnic reality of earlier times. Articulation of this, however, is being obstructed in cities like Prijedor.
Twenty years after the evacuations from the Bosnian ‘safe areas’, humanitarians continue to struggle with dilemmas around humanitarian evacuations.
It is instructive to review the legacy of both the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the post-war settlement and experience in order to appreciate how this European conflict set the stage for major institutional developments in the field of humanitarian protection, and how, after 20 years, the lessons which emerged from this experience are being ignored.
New research findings indicate that factors such as the gender of the judge and of the appellant, and where the appellant lives, are influencing asylum appeal adjudication.
Providing a variety of safe shelter types, each with its own unique strengths and limitations, within a single area could help meet the diverse and changing needs of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Refugees should be treated not as poor, traumatised foreigners but as strong and capable people who can be resources in their countries of resettlement.
A project in the UK aiming to prepare young men for return to Afghanistan through an assisted voluntary return programme was unsuccessful. A different, longer-term approach might have been more appropriate and more effective.