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The Dayton Peace Agreement

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The Dayton Peace Agreement of 21 November 1995 negotiated by the warring parties in the former Yugoslavia contains two articles on arms control which form the basis for work that continues to this day.

Peace negociations in Dayton
Peace negociations in Dayton© pictures-alliance/dpa
The arms control section of the Dayton Peace Agreement concluded on 21 November 1995 by the parties to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia has proven to be an effective regional confidence-building and arms control instrument. The joint implementation of the Agreement has led to a considerable reduction in the parties’ arms stockpiles and troop strengths, which today lie well below the agreed ceilings. The parties to the Agreement today are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.

In Annex 1B (Agreement on Regional Stabilisation), the Dayton Agreement contains two sections on arms-control issues that are still relevant.

  • Article IV: Negotiations on numerical limits on holdings of heavy arms systems and on voluntary troop ceilings.
  • Article V: Negotiations between all parties and (unnamed) neighbouring states on a regional arms control agreement to establish a “regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia” under the auspices of the OSCE Forum on Security Co-operation (FSC).

The implementation of Article IV was laid down in the Florence Agreement of 14 June 1996. It sets out ceilings for five categories of armaments (battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters) for the former parties to the conflict.

The parties’ troop levels have been limited by unilaterally declared voluntary ceilings. The Agreement also contains provisions on a comprehensive annual exchange of information on armaments and personnel levels.

Moreover, it provides for a strict verification regime with the participation of a Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for Article IV of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the support of third states.

The position of Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for Article IV of the Dayton Peace Agreement was held by the Italian Major-General Michele Torres from September 2011 to the end of 2014.

The core arms control requirements of the Agreement have now been fulfilled, since the limits on armaments and manpower have been met and the prescribed reductions in stockpiles completed.

Transfer of ownership

At the OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel in December 2014, the transfer of ownership was signed by the states parties in the presence of representatives of the countries of the Contact Group (the US, Russian Federation, France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany). With that the four states parties, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina assumed ownership for the implementation of the Agreement. The OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre provides them with logistical support for this.

Up to the end of 2014, Germany provided personnel and equipment to help implement the Agreement, for example by seconding personnel to the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and providing support for inspections.

The implementation of Article IV is still monitored by a Sub-Regional Consultative Commission, which is composed of representatives of the parties and meets regularly. Representatives of the Contact Group continue to take part in these sessions.

Confidence- and security-building measures

Article V of Annex 1B to the Dayton Agreement was superseded by the adoption of a politically binding Final Document, which has been in force since 1 January 2002. Participating states are Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro (since January 2007), the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Turkey.

The original goal of negotiating a nuanced regional arms control agreement had to be abandoned due to the resistance of some of the states. Nevertheless, the Final Document does provide a framework for intensified regional and border-region confidence- and security-building measures between all states in the Balkans and neighbouring countries, albeit on a voluntary basis. A commission comprising representatives from the participating states monitors the implementation of the voluntary measures and informs the OSCE Forum on Security Co-operation (FSC) and Permanent Council of activities.

Germany supports the implementation of the Final Document by states in the region, for example through bilateral measures such as support for training, fact-finding visits, language courses as well as by participating in mutual inspection visits and actively promoting the Centre for Security Cooperation (RACVIAC, Regional Arms Control Verification and Implementation Assistance Centre) in Zagreb.

RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation

The Regional Centre for Security Cooperation (which is known as RACVIAC, formerly called the Regional Arms Control Verification and Implementation Assistance Centre) in Zagreb was founded in 2000 at Germany’s initiative as a German-Croatian project under the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Its initial focus was on strengthening cooperative security and confidence-building in South Eastern Europe, and in particular providing training for verification staff to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement. However, it soon evolved into a regional forum for dialogue on all issues of regional security, offering seminars and further training in three areas: cooperative security, security sector reform and international cooperation. It has thus become an established player, making an important contribution to confidence-building in the region.

RACVIAC was given a new legal basis in 2011 with the ratification of the new Agreement. This is a multilateral instrument between Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. RACVIAC thus became a regionally owned organisation. Germany is an associate member and supports RACVIAC by sending lecturers to various seminars.

Texts of the Agreements and further information

www.racviac.org

New agreement on RACVIAC PDF / 11 MB

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