A Liberal Peace? The Dayton Agreement and Democratization in Bosnia and Herzegovina 25 years later
Abstract: Over time, hundreds of peace agreements have been signed in different parts of the world. Most of those peace agreements have not brought sustainable peace. Studies show that only 50% of the peace agreements survive for 5 years. After undergoing civil war between the ethnic groups, Bosnia and Herzegovina ended the bloodiest conflict in European history since the second world war with a peace agreement with the official name The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also called the Dayton Peace Agreement. The main purpose of the Dayton Agreement was to bring peace and stability between the ethnic groups. Stability and peace would later democratize the country and bring it closer to the Western standards. 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Agreement. The Dayton peace agreement constitutes a big portion of the Bosnian constitution, outlining the structure of the new government and the division of power between the three ethnic groups in the country. Using the democratic pillar of the Liberal Peace concept as an analytical framework, this research investigates the impact of the Dayton peace agreement on the democratization process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and determines whether Liberal Peace has after all been achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 25 years after the signing of the peace agreement. The study is conducted as a qualitative case study. The findings present that the Dayton agreement has been based on the liberal peace principles. The latest development in BiH show that the country has moved beyond the Dayton peace agreement to the European integration and European Union membership. The liberal peacebuilding has therefore taken another shift and the country’s main focus nowadays relies on resolving the needed reforms that will bring the country closer to the EU. The impact of the Dayton peace agreement is still present within the political sphere in the country, where many of the obstacles to becoming a European Union member state are caused by the Dayton agreement. There is thus high interest by the political elite in the country to move beyond what has happened 25-years ago and focus on the future of the country.
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