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Bosnia: Civil Implementation of the Peace Agreement

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Publication Date: January 1998

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: 96-177

Topic: International relations (International peace and security)

Abstract:

The long and brutal war in Bosnia came to an end in December 1995 with the signing of the Dayton peace agreement. The agreement paved the way for the deployment of a 55,000-strong NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia for one year. While IFOR’s military tasks focused on keeping the peace and providing for a secure environment, the implementation of many other civil tasks, coupled with an inflow of humanitarian and reconstruction aid, was seen as essential to building a lasting peace in Bosnia. NATO deployed a smaller Stabilization Force (SFOR) in December 1996 in order to continue to provide a stable and secure environment for ongoing civil peace efforts. SFOR’s mandate will expire in June 1998. NATO is expected to approve a successor force to SFOR by March 1998, following President Clinton’s announcement in December 1997 that U.S. will participate in a post-SFOR military presence in Bosnia. President Clinton stated that the mission of the new force should be tied to specific benchmarks in the peace implementation process.

Since Dayton, the civilian side of peace implementation has been challenged by the scope of the tasks, and by the lack of commitment demonstrated by the Bosnian parties to various aspects of the peace agreement. IFOR and SFOR have focused primarily on the military tasks of the peace agreements, but have also lent selected assistance to civilian agencies. Many international organizations have been involved with assisting with other aspects of the peace agreement. Many countries and financial and development institutions have provided reconstruction assistance.

Two years of peace implementation have produced many positive results. IFOR and SFOR have successfully carried out their missions. Agreements on confidence-building measures and arms control were concluded and implemented. National and local elections were conducted peacefully and joint political institutions were created. Economic indicators have improved, especially in the Federation. On the negative side, ethnic divisions between the three Bosnian communities have not been overcome. All parties have resisted the resettlement of displaced persons and refugees and freedom of movement across entity lines. Numerous human rights violations persist. Nationalist parties won dominant shares in the elections and some politicians have continued to advocate ethnic separation. Over fifty indicted war criminals have remained at large, most notably the former Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic.

The international community and the Bosnian authorities have identified numerous priority areas, such as: building functioning governmental structures, furthering democratization and the protection of human rights, reforming the police, encouraging economic growth, and fostering the return of refugees. The obligation to turn over indicted war criminals remains a key priority. Overall, many international policymakers have determined that the progress made in Bosnia after two years is still not irreversible, and not at a point where peace in Bosnia is self-sustaining. This premise forms the basic justification for some form of continued international military force to remain in Bosnia in order to provide a secure environment for continued peace consolidation efforts.