This week BAACBH celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 until 1995. While the Peace Accords stopped the war that took over two hundred thousand lives and displaced over two million people, it also gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a two-entity system of governance – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska – which has failed to bridge postwar ethnic divisions and has systematically stalled necessary reforms.
Today, fifteen years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, Bosnia and Herzegovina is striving to move forward despite obstacles created by the very peace agreement that stopped the fighting. One such obstacle is the entity-voting mechanism in the BiH parliament that has allowed nationalistic sentiments to block the legislative process and made it difficult for BiH to transform into a democratic decision-making country. Furthermore, having power decentralized between the two entities reinforces ethnic divisions within Bosnia and Herzegovina; the most overt example of still-existing tensions is Bosnia's "two schools under one roof" educational system, during which children of different ethnic backgrounds spend their childhood and education segregated from other ethnicities. The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Tom Countryman, recently expressed concern regarding Bosnia's school system, stating that the system may create a more nationalistic generation than the previous generation which led Bosnia and Herzegovina into war. On the anniversary of Dayton, we recognize that the Peace Accords served a critical role in Bosnia and Herzegovina's modern history – it ended a war and began the reconstruction and recovery process.
BAACBH strongly believes that if BiH is ever to move forward and join the ranks of other EU and NATO members, Bosnia and Herzegovina must undertake comprehensive constitutional reform. This will enable BiH to become an efficient and effective state capable of meeting its domestic and international obligations. During Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent trip to Sarajevo, she reaffirmed the United States' continued support for and engagement with BiH and called for constitutional reforms. With the U.S. support, BAACBH is encouraging reform efforts in BiH and through our advocacy work with Congress and the Administration we are urging for a revisit of the Dayton Accords in order to ensure a more effective governing framework for BiH.
To view the text of "The Dayton Peace Accords" please visit: