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What was the Dayton Treaty About?

Did you know that a sleepy town in Midwestern America played a significant role in ending one of the most gruesome wars in modern history? 

The Dayton Treaty was to negotiate peace talks to end the Bosnian War. The treaty was held in November 1995 in Dayton, Ohio. Negotiators picked Dayton to eliminate media interference and to remove all parties involved from their comfort zones.

The Bosnian War

The Bosnian War was a deeply ethically rooted war that began in 1992. It lasted for three years. At the end of WW2, Josip Broz Tito, a part-Croat and part-Slovene, united Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia.

These states became part of the Communist Federation of Yugoslavia with six equal republics. However, ethnic issues arose from the union of the states. Serbians disapproved of Tito’s recognition of Macedonians and Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina as distinct nationalities. Tito’s Communist Federation collapsed when Tito passed away in 1980.

With the Balkan states clamoring for independence, Slobodan Milosevic rose to power in 1986, capitalizing on nationalism. He was known as The Butcher of the Balkans, who deliberately caused conflict between Serbians, Croatians, and Bosniaks. Milosevic used old ethical grudges and stirred up nationalistic notions of Greater Serbia, with only Serbians.

In 1992, Bosnia proclaimed its independence. But, Radovan Karadzic, a man under the direct control of Milosevic, resisted and threatened bloodshed because the Bosnian Serbs wished to remain part of Yugoslavia.

Two days after the recognition of Europe and the United States of the independence of Bosnia, the Serbian Democratic Party bombarded Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital. This marked the start of the War, alongside ethnic cleansing, where thousands were killed in a frantic genocide.

The UN declined to intervene with the War but facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid, setting up safe areas such as Srebenica. UN, however, failed to protect Srebenica from Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, resulting in the Srebenica massacre leaving more than 7,000 Bosniak men dead.

The end of the War was marked when the United States sponsored the peace talks of the Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats in November 1995. The War claimed more than 250,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people from their hometowns. (Source: Borgen Project)

The Dayton Agreement

Bosnian-Serbs under the leadership of Milosevic were forced to agree to the US-sponsored peace talks when they faced NATO airstrikes and a large-scale Bosniak-Croat land offense. The Dayton Agreement, or Dayton Accord, started on November 1, 1995, in the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton, Ohio.

The peace talks were led by the chief US peace negotiator Richard Holbrooke and Secretary of State Warren Christopher. By November 21, the presidents of Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia had reached agreements to end the Bosnian War.

The Agreement also outlined a general framework for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The peace talks also preserved Bosnia as a single state made up of two parts: the Bosnia-Croat federation and the Bosnian Serb republic.

The accord was also attended by representatives from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and the European Union. Dayton, Ohio, was chosen to reduce the ability of the participants to negotiate by utilizing media and to remove the warring states from their comfort zones. (Source: Britannica)

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