How Successful was the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bringing Sustainable Governance to Bosnia and Herzegovina Between 1995 1998?

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Extended Essay:

How Successful was the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bringing Sustainable Governance to Bosnia and Herzegovina Between 1995 – 1998?

Candidate Name: Ismar Hota

Candidate Number: 000213-015

International School of Kenya

Word Count: 3836

Supervisor: Sue Giddings

Table of contents:


The topic of this extended essay is how successful was the Dayton peace agreement in bringing sustainable governance to Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1995 – 1998. In order to judge success a thorough research was conducted that included 21 sources in total; 9 primary and 12 secondary.

        When researching for this topic I have found a wide range of sources which allowed me to choose the best information possible, in order to judge the success. Reports from the High Representatives and the analysis by David Chandler, Faking Democracy in particular were the sources that gave detailed explanations that allowed for answering this question.

        The main aims that the Dayton provided for the state of Bosnia were ending of the Ethnic conflict, set up democratic government and protection of Human rights which provided a steady return of the Bosnian refugees. The Dayton agreement was necessary because the ethic conflict that was raging in Bosnia between 1992-1995 was falling out of proportions and with three warring ethnic groups, the world decided to take the initiative to finally settle a war in the heart of Europe. The International intervention stressed that Western democracy will bring the ethnic coexistence that existed in Bosnia before the war back. However the international community quickly ran into barriers that significantly changed their planned course of action. However with time the multi ethnic composition slowly but surly came into place.

        Today the state of Bosnia has managed to come onto a road that promises that the country will become a full member of NATO and the EU. And if examined it can be concluded that Dayton has successfully brought Western governance as well as implemented multi-ethnic composition in society to a certain extent while managing to protect Human rights.

Word Count: [292]


The topic of this extended essay will examine how successful was the Dayton Peace Agreement was in bringing sustainable governance to Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1995 – 1998. When the state of Yugoslavia fell apart in the 1990’s new states were formed. The newly independent states included Bosnia, which faced a civil war. The Bosnia’s four year conflict was stopped with the Dayton Peace Agreement. It was a protocol that took place between September and November of 1995 at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base by Dayton in Ohio and signed formally in Paris a month later (Holbrooke 233). The immediate aim that Dayton achieved was stopping the killings in Bosnia. However extended itself into a big international experiment of political engineering in which many nations took part including The United States of America, The United Kingdom, France, Germany Italy and Russia as well as many NGO’s (Chandler 2).

Dayton's achievements include setting up of a democratic government and implemented the protection of human rights in Bosnia which aimed at attracting refugee return.

The agenda of the Dayton peace agreement were such that it created a decentralized country. With Dayton Bosnia faced territorial changes and the country was split into two entities and a district; Republika Srpska (Serb entity), Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniak and Croat entity) and Brčko District. The split of the territory was 49% to 51% respectively. With Dayton many foreigners entered Bosnia. Between 1995 -1998, around 10,000 foreigners were responsible for rebuilding Bosnia were in Sarajevo alone, and at least another 40,000 across the rest of the country. 35,000 NATO troops acted as peace keepers. Foreigners were also assigned to work as heads of all important positions in society such as the chief of police or the chief of Central Bank (Chandler 3).

All the law-making and executive power is with the UN’s High representative, a foreigner with the power to directly impose legislation and dismiss uncooperative elected members of Bosnian governing bodies (Chandler 2).

This topic is worth exploring since the world community tried to achieve a successful transformation in a country that went through 50 years of communism and on top of that a severe 4 year long civil war. On top of this in the 90's many former communist countries went through the struggles for achieving democracy including Bosnia which had a big impact on the politics of the world.


The aim of the Dayton Agreements was to establish a democratic government for the new state of Bosnia in 1996. Democracy was to be implemented according to the Western democracies. Before the Dayton, Bosnia held the first free elections in November, 1990. These elections can be regarded as a failure of democracy as they were a cause of the civil war later (Chandler 29). Prior to the 1990 elections Bosnia was a symbol of cultural co-existence amongst the different religions and ethnic groups in Yugoslavia. The democratic failure of 1990 can be explain as a failure because of the success f the nationalist parties. Of 240 seats 84% were won by the three leading ethnic party organisations. 34% went to (Bosniak) party of democratic action (SDA), 30% went to Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and 18% went to Croatia Democratic Union (HDZ). Liberals won 5% and the reformed communists won less than 8% (Cohen 146).

The elections of 1990 happened during the time of Yugoslavia’s split. The nation was at a crisis and security to the people couldn't be provided. The question of security came to close ties with the questions of ethnic and nationalist background. In Bosnia the questions was the equal treatment of all ethnic groups. Croats being the smallest of the three main ethnic groups feared their position and wanted stronger links with Croatia and Slovenia. Bosniaks were in doubt over the constitutional changes while the Serbs feared that any change would put them in a worse position (Cohen 143). This can be viewed as a ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ facing the Bosnian People and with which ethnicity became a central political issue (Dyker 99).

The view is that the people of Bosnia were manipulated through the nationalist rhetoric that resulted in everyone voting for their own, rather than voting for what’s the best for the people, “Bosnia [is] full of uneducated people who don’t know what politics is, what they can do, what’s right and what’s wrong. Only the nationalist parties and the communists exist for these people” (Mark 102). However if it is the case that Bosnia was a matter of pure manipulation than how come other elites with considerable social influence like the reform communists and liberals failed to succeed at the elections (Woodward 125).

The ethnic differences that coexisted were now the reason for the war as they were the result of the lack of communications between the ethnicities and politics. The wrong leaders used their power to create a ‘collective paranoia’ (Woodward 228). The three parties with the most votes, unable to deal with their differences became warring parties. Once the war started three different views were what prevented the war to come to an end. Many international interventions prior to Dayton were used in order to stop the war but they all failed “The warring sides are unable to construct agreements amongst themselves” (Szasz 258).

The war can therefore be explained as a consequence of unrealistic democratic autonomy. It was clear that Bosnia could not come back to peace and govern itself without the help from international community (Chandler 32). After so many failures to prevent a war a new approach had to be made. The Dayton Peace agreement answered to the warring sides and it was the first agreement where the warring sides managed to come to a consensus.

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Sovereignty of the state:

        When Dayton was signed the international bodies soon came to realisation that they wouldn’t be leaving Bosnia any time soon. The excessive external power brought questions about sovereignty of Bosnia under the Dayton. In order to make the consolidation of democracy whereby the Bosnian institutions have democratic legitimacy and policy-making is accountable to the Bosnian people through the mechanism of electoral competition the sovereignty had to be put on hold. The international democratisation experiment grew even bigger and more powers were awarded to the international bodies rather than trying to hand over democracy to the people ...

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