School of Knowledge: Mapping Dayton Peace Accords project can trace back its origins to 2000, when Miran Norderland and the FAMA Team obtained permission from Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and his publisher Random House to use his book “To End A War” for the creation of the FAMA Album: “The Dayton Peace Accords: Mapping Negotiations.” The objective of the project was to visualise and contextualise the road to Dayton by mappingout the U.S. Shuttle Diplomacy and Peace Proximity Talks in Dayton in a way that they could be accessible to a wide range audience.

The Bosnian war was considered “the greatest collective security failure of the West [in Europe] since the 1930s.” This is the story of how the United States led the effort to end the Bosnian war and forge the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995.

The Dayton Peace Accords is not just a peace treaty that keeps Bosnia stable and in peace; it is an opportunity to learn why and how the accords came to fruition. We hope that this Educational “Study Table” will enable you to contextualise and visualise the events that marked the end of the 20th century, and continue to shape Bosnia’s future.

Richard Holbrooke in his own words (from “To End A War” book):

Although the United States initially viewed the Balkan wars as a European problem, by mid-1995 Washington decided to launch a last, all-out negotiating effort. President Clinton decided on a strategy and assembled a U.S. Negotiations team headed by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

* * *

With a travel schedule that changed every few hours, we moved so unpredictably across Europe that Washington often did not know where we were, driven by the sense that it was now all or nothing.

* * *

It is a high-wire act without a safety net. Much work must precede the plunge into such an all-or-nothing environment. Therefore, the site for peace proximity talks had to be just right as the goals of the U.S. Negotiations were defined:

• Turn the sixty-day cease-fire into a permanent peace
• Gain agreement for a multiethnic state
• We would not legitimize Serb aggression or encourage Croat annexation

The consequences of failure are great. But when the conditions are right,[the] Dayton [model]can produce dramatic results. Dayton, therefore, has contemporary relevance because it succeeded; in short, it ended a war!


On March 3, 1992, after holding a referendum, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence, which was recognized by the USA and the EU on April 6.

Backed by Belgrade and the former Yugoslav People’s Army, Bosnian Serbs seized over 65% of the Bosnian territory from which Bosnian Muslims and Croats were expelled. Bosnian Croats soon followed, rejecting the authority of the Bosnian Government and declaring their own republic with the backing of Croatia. Pressed by Washington, this “war within a war” between Croats and Muslims was stopped in 1994.

Throughout the war, mass violence resulted in ethnic cleansing, deportation, murders, torture, rapes, concentration camps, devastation of villages & infrastructure, besieged cities, destruction of cultural & religious monuments, and genocide. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people were killed and two million people, more than half the population, were forced to flee their homes. In late 1995, in the face of growing atrocities and new Bosnian Serb threats, the USA decided to launch a last, all-out negotiating effort.



NATO Air Strikes have made diplomacy easier, just as the reluctance to use force earlier had made diplomatic success impossible. The Alliance was now united, President Clinton was committed, and the obstacles to using force had been overcome. At the same time, Milosevic was anxious to gain relief from the economic sanctions that were imposed against Yugoslavia. (Madeleine Albright)

Shuttle Diplomacy is the action of an outside party in serving as an intermediary between (or among) principals in a dispute, without direct principal-to-principal contact. The process entails successive travel (“shuttling”) by the intermediary, from the working location of one principal, to that of another.

With a travel schedule that changed every few hours, we moved so unpredictably across Europe that Washington often did not know where we were, driven by the bombing and by the sense that it was now all or nothing. (Richard Holbrooke)



There were over 30 ceasefires and agreements in Bosnia prior to the Dayton Peace Accords. All of them collapsed. By the time negotiations began at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Bosnian war had become the worst in Europe since 1945.After 18 weeks of whirlwind shuttle diplomacy, Dayton would be host to nine delegations.

* * *

‘Dayton’ has entered the language as shorthand for a certain type of diplomacy: lock everyone up until they reach agreement.

* * *

US negotiators had won acceptance of the principle that: Bosnia and Herzegovina should be preserved as a unified and independent state; NATO would enforce the peace; and an international civilian administration would set about rebuilding the country. Ambitious goals for holding elections, returning refugees, and uniting the country were also spelled out in the accords.

* * *

On November 21, 1995, the leaders of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia agreed to end the war. (Richard Holbrooke)



Following the agreement in Dayton, ‘The Peace Implementation Council’ for Bosnia was inaugurated at the London conference (December8-9, 1995); and the accords were formally signed in Paris on December 14, 1995. The NATO-led peace Implementation Force (IFOR) arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina on December 20, 1995. Under the codename ‘Operation Joint Endeavour’, 60,000+ troops were in charge of implementing the military aspects of the peace agreement.

Whilst the peace accords achieved their immediate purpose of putting an end to the bloodshed, they also froze the ethnic divisions in place and bequeathed an extremely complex system of government, which has made governance extremely difficult. Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina comprises two entities: the Federation of BiH (which is further sub-divided into 10 Cantons), and Republika Srpska. Formally part of both entities is the Brcko District, a multiethnic, self-governing administrative unit.