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Peace plans offered before and during the Bosnian War

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Title: Peace plans offered before and during the Bosnian War  
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Subject: Bosnian War, Dayton Agreement, Dobrinja mortar attack, SAO Herzegovina, SAO Romanija
Collection: Bosnian War, Politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Peace plans offered before and during the Bosnian War

Ethnic distribution at the municipal level in Bosnia and Herzegovina before (1991) and after the war (1998)

Four major international peace plans were offered before and during the Bosnian War by European Community (EC) and United Nations (UN) diplomats before the conflict was finally settled by the Dayton Agreement in 1995.


  • History 1
  • Carrington–Cutileiro plan 2
  • Vance–Owen plan 3
  • Owen–Stoltenberg plan 4
  • Contact Group plan 5
  • Other plans by Bosnian actors 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


During the existence of Yugoslavia, the Serbian Autonomous Oblasts, (Serbian: Српска аутономна област, Srpska autonomna oblast, SAO) were oblasts in the republics of SR Croatia and SR Bosnia and Herzegovina that the ethnic Serbs proclaimed to be autonomous and subsequently voted for independence. The SAOs would eventually form the Republic of Serbian Krajina in Croatia and the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As ethnic tensions grew, one of the first Muslim proposals on the establishment of three entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina was announced on 25 June 1991. It called on the creation of a Muslim, Serbian and Croatian block.

Another joint proposal by the Bosnian Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) political parties was announced in August 1992. It called for establishing 12 cantons of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with autonomous rights.

Carrington–Cutileiro plan

The original Carrington–Cutileiro peace plan, named for its authors Lord Carrington and Portuguese ambassador José Cutileiro, resulted from the EC Peace Conference held in February 1992 in an attempt to prevent Bosnia-Herzegovina sliding into war. It was also referred to as the Lisbon Agreement (Serbo-Croatian: Lisabonski sporazum). It proposed ethnic power-sharing on all administrative levels and the devolution of central government to local ethnic communities. However, all Bosnia-Herzegovina's districts would be classified as Muslim, Serb or Croat under the plan, even where no ethnic majority was evident.

On 11 March 1992, the "Assembly of the Republic of Serb Bosnia-Herzegovina" unanimously rejected the plan, putting forth their own map which claimed almost two thirds of Bosnia's territory, with a series of ethnically split cities and isolated enclaves, and leaving the Croats and Muslims with a disjointed strip of land in the centre of the republic. This plan was rejected by Cutileiro. However, he put forth a revised draft of the original which stated that the three constituent units would be "based on national principles and taking into account economic, geographic, and other criteria."[1]

On 18 March 1992, all three sides signed the agreement; Alija Izetbegović for the Bosniaks, Radovan Karadžić for the Serbs and Mate Boban for the Croats.

On 28 March 1992, after a meeting with US ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmermann in Sarajevo, Izetbegović withdrew his signature and declared his opposition to any division of Bosnia.

What was said and by whom remains unclear. Zimmerman denies that he told Izetbegović that if he withdrew his signature, the United States would grant recognition to Bosnia as an independent state. What is indisputable is that Izetbegović, that same day, withdrew his signature and renounced the agreement..[2]

Vance–Owen plan

Rough map of the Vance-Owen plan, which would have established 10 cantons

In early January 1993, the UN Special Envoy Cyrus Vance and EC representative Lord Owen began negotiating a peace proposal with the leaders of Bosnia's warring factions. The proposal, which became known as the "Vance-Owen peace plan", involved the division of Bosnia into ten semi-autonomous regions and received the backing of the UN. Although the President of the Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadžić, had signed the plan on 30 April, it was rejected by the Bosnian Serbs National Assembly on 6 May,[3] and subsequently referred to a referendum.[4] The plan was rejected by 96% of voters,[5] although mediators referred to the referendum as a "sham".[3] On 18 June, Lord Owen declared that the plan was "dead".

Given the pace at which territorial division, fragmentation and ethnic cleansing had occurred, the plan was already obsolete by the time it was announced. It became the last proposal that sought to salvage a mixed, united Bosnia-Herzegovina; subsequent proposals either re-enforced or contained elements of partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On 1 April, Cyrus Vance announced his resignation as Special Envoy to the UN Secretary-General. He was replaced by Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg on 1 May.

The Vance-Owen plan was a roughly sketched map, it did not establish the definitive outline of the 10 cantons, since it was pending on final negotiations between the three ethnic groups.

Owen–Stoltenberg plan

In late July, representatives of Bosnia-Herzegovina's three warring factions entered into a new round of negotiations. On 20 August, the U.N. mediators Thorvald Stoltenberg and David Owen unveiled a map that would partition Bosnia into three ethnic mini-states, in which Bosnian Serb forces would be given 52 percent of Bosnia-Herzegovina's territory, Muslims would be allotted 30 percent and Bosnian-Herzegovina Croats would receive 18 percent. On 29 August 1993 Bosniaks rejected the plan.

Contact Group plan

Between February and October 1994, the Contact Group (U.S., Russia, France, Britain, and Germany) made steady progress towards a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This was known as a Contact Group plan, and a heavy pressure was put on Bosnian Serbs to accept the plan when Federal Republic of Yugoslavia imposed an embargo on Drina river. It was also rejected in a referendum held on 28 August 1994.[6]

During this period, the warring between Croats and Bosniaks came to an end as in March 1994, the two factions settled their differences in the Washington agreement.

Other plans by Bosnian actors

There were also Bosnian, Croat and Serbian proposals for a reorganisation of Bosnia.

See also


  1. ^ Glaurdić, Josip (2011). The Hour of Europe: Western Powers and the Breakup of Yugoslavia. London: Yale University Press. p. 294.  
  2. ^ de Krnjevic-Miskovic, Damjan. "Alija Izetbegovic, 1925-2003". In the National Interest. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  3. ^ a b Chronology for Serbs in Bosnia UNHCR
  4. ^ Bosnian Serbs Spurn Un Pact, Set Referendum Chicago Trubune, 6 May 1993
  5. ^ Republika Srpska (Bosnien-Herzegowina), 16. Mai 1993 : Vance-Owen-Friedensplan Direct Democracy
  6. ^ Republika Srpska (Bosnien-Herzegowina), 28. August 1994 : Teilungsplan der internationalen Kontaktgruppe Direct Democracy

External links

  • Map of Vance–Owen peace plan
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