What did the Dayton Accords do?

1. Most importantly, the Accords stopped the fighting.

This also lifted the siege of Sarajevo. By this time, over 100,000 people had already been killed in the war.

photo of the Peace Plaza monument in Dayton, Ohio, overlooking the Miami River

The Peace Plaza monument in Dayton, Ohio (CC-BY-SA)

2. They stopped the massacres of civilians and ended the campaign of rape against women.

3. They caused the remaining detention camps to be dismantled.

4. They retained Sarajevo as an integral part of Bosnia-Hercegovina — as its capital.

5. They prevented renewed warfare over the contested city of Brčko, because it was eventually arbitrated under international administration.

6. They established a new constitution of Bosnia-Hercegovina with guarantees of human rights.

7. They provided for free and democratic elections, which were held successfully in September 1996.



But what did the Accords fail to do?

1. They did not restore the prewar boundaries of Bosnia. The Croats and Serbs kept the land they had seized during the war, for the most part.

a close-up map of Bosnia

Map of the line dividing up Bosnia into republics and zones. (CC-BY-SA)

2. They did not address the ethnic nationalism that had led to the war. In fact, ethnic divisions were enshrined in the Bosnian Constitution.

3. They did not establish a strong or united central government: the Presidency rotates among the three main ethnic groups every 8 months. Many governing powers are handled by the state-level republics of Republika Srpska and the Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation.

4. They did not provide any resources to re-establish the shattered economy.

5. They did not allow NATO forces to arrest the people indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal.

6. They did not settle issues for the return of the 2 million refugees to their homes.

7. They did not establish methods for reconciliation after the ethnic cleansing of so many civilians. As the next button investigates, it was left to the people of Bosnia to figure out how to heal.

Even 25 years later, many of these issues are still sensitive challenges in Bosnia for completing the true meaning of peace.



How do you heal from a war like this?next page

After a war between neighbors, people must find some way to achieve reconciliation and some sense of justice for the cruelties. Then, hopefully, they can arrive at a place of forgiveness.

But how did Bosnia find reconciliation for such terrible, brutal war?

1. Being truthful:

One part of it is the chance to give testimony: to record for all time the truth of what happened. In Bosnia, they did this through an international Tribunal.

Distinguished judges all over the world were elected to serve on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: the ICTY.

photo of a courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague

Photo courtesy of the ICTY, CC-BY-2.0

The families of many victims travelled to The Hague to watch the proceedings and to serve as court witnesses to the worst atrocities. Even if some people try to deny the war crimes, the facts of this war are beyond any doubt.

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2. Consequences:next page

The work of the ICTY would be very slow: taking years to apprehend the accused, conducting cases and appeals, reviewing every sentence, making every effort to give suspects a fair trial, not a political one.

The following people would eventually face consequences.

Among Bosniaks:


photo of Rasim Delić

Chief of Staff of the Army of BiH

Rasim Delić was sentenced to 3 years for his failure, as a commander, to prevent the El Mujahed Detachment of the Bosnian Army from committing crimes against captured civilians and enemy combatants — actions which included murder, rape, and torture.

[ CONVICTED 2008 ]


photo of Esad Landžo

18-year old guard at Čelebići prison camp

Esad Landžo was sentenced to 15 years for murder, torture and other abuses of Serb civilians at Čelebići prison camp. In 2017, he appeared in a documentary ‘The Unforgiven,’ where he attempted to seek out his victims and atone for what he did.

[ CONVICTED 2003 ]


silhouette of 3 anonymous persons

...As well as three other Bosniak officers

Photos are courtesy of the ICTY


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Consequences among Croats:next page


photo of Milivoj Petković

Chief Commander of the Croatian Defence Council

Having overall command of that military force, Milivoj Petković was sentenced to 20 years for war crimes and ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims.

[ CONVICTED 2013 ]


Jadranko Prlić

Prime Minister of the short-lived ‘Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna’

Jadranko Prlić was judged to have held ultimate political authority in that region of Bosnia, that he could have stopped the Croat forces’ concentration camps and crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

[ CONVICTED 2013 ]


silhouette of 15 anonymous persons

...And 16 other Croat officers

Photos are courtesy of the ICTY, CC-BY-2.0


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Consequences among Serbs:next page


photo of Slobodan Milošević

President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Initially, Slobodan Milošević faced no consequences and enjoyed much of the credit for stopping the war. His Serbian government went on to pursue ethnic cleansing in the republic of Kosovo, causing another war. In 1999, the Tribunal charged him with war crimes occurring in Kosovo, and then later added charges related to Croatia and Bosnia. He died of a heart attack in 2006, just weeks before the Court was scheduled to rule on his case.

[ INDICTED 1999 & 2002 ]


a photo of Ratko Mladić and of Radovan Karadžić

Army Commander of Republika Srpska and
Former President of Republika Srpska

General Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić were sentenced for genocide at Srebrenica, violations of the laws and customs of war, and numerous crimes against humanity. Mr. Karadžić appealed his 40-year sentence, and the Court ruled it too lenient: raising it to life in prison. Gen. Mladić was given a life sentence. Expressing no remorse, he believes only his own people may judge him.


film clip: ICTY / The Irish Times (1.5 minutes)

...Plus 54 other convictions:


silhouette of 54 anonymous persons

Photos are courtesy of the ICTY, CC-BY-2.0


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3. The Power of Art:

photo of a mortar blast in the sidewalk filled in with red resin, which forms a unique pattern

Photo by Jennifer Boyer, CC-BY-2.0 (color is retouched from original)

Sarajevans used art to acknowledge but transform marks of destruction. In places where a mortar shell had once killed people, they filled the concrete scars with red resin, and the pattern it creates is known as a “Sarajevo rose.”

But over time, the roses will disappear as the asphalt is replaced.

4. Monuments:

In towns across Bosnia, all sides have placed monuments to commemorate people killed in the atrocities, to give survivors some peace and a place to grieve.

montage of 4 black-and-white photos showing a reburial ceremony at Srebrenica, as well as solemn stone markers there

Images in the collection of the Dayton International Peace Museum, photographer unknown

But a monument by itself does not always lead to reconciliation. The more hopeful moments have been the rare times when the “other side” came.

For example, the Prime Minister of Serbia went to Srebrenica in 2015 to lay roses a second time — four months after the first time when people threw rocks at him. That humility took bravery, and showed he was serious. Likewise, in 2016 the Bosniak President Bakir Izetbegović visited a memorial for Bosnian Serbs in Kazani, saying “I should have come here sooner.”




Xenophobia is a word that means fear and hatred of foreigners (or of anything foreign).

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Unfortunately, that kind of language is what started the war in Yugoslavia, and it is a common tactic whenever political leaders use nationalism to gain power.

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Do you ever hear hateful, xenophobic language on social media? Or from adults in your community?

graphic showing an angry tweet and dozens of retweets. The tweet says THEY SHOULD GO BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM!

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So if we are going to become the peacemakers for OUR time...