Twenty Years After Dayton: The Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina
This December marks 20 years since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) that left around 100,000 people dead and 1.8 million people displaced. Paddy Ashdown described Dayton as ‘a superb agreement to end a war, but a very bad agreement to make a state’ and indeed, in the intervening two decades, though significant strides have been made towards building a single, unified, nation with a Euro-Atlantic perspective, major challenges remain.
BiH’s constitutional framework (annexed to Dayton) is highly complex and often not conducive to quick, decisive governance. A lack of common will across ethnic groups regularly frustrates political progress and governments and public institutions at all levels have been dogged by accusations of vested interests, corruption and nepotism. Just recently, the country’s Bosnian Serb autonomous entity, Republika Srpska, announced a unilateral referendum on the state level judiciary: a move decried by the EU, the US and the Office of the High Representative as contravening Dayton and undermining BiH’s territorial integrity.
Our expert panel will discuss to what extent the hopes of the peace process have been realized and, more importantly, what part Dayton currently plays (or not) in shaping BiH’s future and that of the Balkans more broadly. Is it time to move beyond the Dayton framework? How will BiH be able to do this given the conflicting visions among its three main ethnic groups and the pressing need to implement socio-economic reforms? And what should be the role of the European Union and the wider international community in safeguarding a peaceful, conflict-free future for the region?