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Debate: Dayton Agreement

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Should Bosnia and Herzegovina continue under the Dayton Agreement or change/abandon it?

Background and context

Following the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1992, a civil war erupted in the newly established Bosnia that pitted Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Bosnian Serbs against one-another.
The Dayton Accords ended the conflict in December of 1995, establishing modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state in which power is decentralized between two governing entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (consisting of mostly Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims) and Republika Srpska (consisting mainly of Bosnian Serbs).

At the outset, the viability of the Dayton Accords had been questioned, particularly in regards to the ability of antagonistic ethnic groups to effectively share power in a single state. Indeed, since 1995 tensions have escalated between the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. In 2008, some leaders within Republika Srpska called for or hinted toward secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a result, many have returned to the question of whether the Dayton Agreement was a good idea in the first place, and whether the treaty should be fundamentally reformed or possibly even entirely abolished. Below are the main pro and con arguments in this debate.

Contents

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Decentralization: Is the decentralization of Bosnia under Dayton viable?

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Yes

  • Centralized power is not viable in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Richard Holbrooke. "Lessons From Dayton for Iraq". Washington Post. 23 Apr. 2008 - "Political arrangements must reflect historical and ethnic realities. A unitary state with a strong central government may work in France or Japan, but not in Bosnia -- nor, I believe, in such places as (to choose from many) Iraq, Afghanistan or Sudan. There (as in the United States, Germany and India), power must be shared between the central government and the states or provinces. The United States must recognize this in Iraq."


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No

  • Dayton entrenches ethnic divisions and impedes political progress Dan Bilefsky. "Prospects loom for another Bosnian war". New York Times. 18 Dec. 2008 - "the decentralized political system that Dayton engineered has entrenched rather than healed ethnic divisions. Even in communities where Serbs, Muslims and Croats live side by side, some opt to send their children to the same schools, but in different shifts [...] And the country's leaders are so busy fighting one another that they are impeding Bosnia from progressing. Locked in an impasse of mutual recrimination are Haris Silajdzic - the Muslim representative of the country's three-member presidency, who has called for the Serbian Republic to be abolished - and the Bosnian Serb prime minister, Milorad Dodik, who is supported by Russia and Serbia and who has dangled the threat that his republic could secede."


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Stability: Is Bosnia and Herzegovina stable under Dayton?

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Yes

  • International community is to blame for many failures in Bosnia. Richard Holbrooke. "Lessons From Dayton for Iraq". Washington Post. 23 Apr. 2008 - "the world has more or less turned its back on Bosnia itself.[...] Political progress started to decline when it became clear that Bosnia was not a priority for the Bush administration. Washington must remember that without strong American leadership, the gains in Bosnia could still disappear.


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No


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Legal: What are the international law arguments?

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Yes

  • Bosnia cannot break Dayton Treaty that created it. The Dayton Agreement created Bosnia and Herzegovina. It cannot, therefore, be broken by either party to the treaty (the Muslim-Croat Federation and Serb Republic).


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No


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International: What are the broader international factors involved?

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Yes

  • Dayton Accords were key in combating global terrorism. Richard Holbrooke. "Lessons From Dayton for Iraq". Washington Post. 23 Apr. 2008 - "We were concerned about the presence of a small group of Islamic extremists in Bosnia, that would later become known as al-Qaeda. In the Dayton agreement we demanded their removal, and we gave NATO the right to attack them. Without Dayton, al-Qaeda would have probably planned the September 11 terrorist attacks from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and not from Afghanistan"[1]


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No

  • Bosnia under Dayton is merely a stooge of Western powers. "The Dayton Agreement: A solution for Bosnia?". The Socialist Appeal Editorial Board. 27 Oct. 2005 - "Having provoked a catastrophe by its short-sighted policy of attempting to set up an independent state without any real base, Izetbegovic has thrown himself into the arms of US imperialism. Washington thus has a small client state in the area, willing to dance to its tune. The "independence" of even the rump statelet of Bosnia is thus completely mortgaged to its rich transatlantic uncle. [...] It is significant that the US intervention took place, not under the banner of the UN, but that of NATO, the first time in its history that it undertook such an operation. The reason is quite clear. The Americans realised that Russia was no longer prepared to tolerate military actions against the Serbs. They have therefore unceremoniously dumped the UN, and acted openly through NATO."


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Pro/con sources

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Yes


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No

See also

External links and resources


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