When conflict turned to war in Bosnia in early April 1992, there was already a diplomatic peacemaking mechanism in place. The European Community had established a peace conference on Yugoslavia under the chairmanship of Lord Peter Carrington in The Hague in early September 1991 and then suspended the conference in November 1991 after adopting limited economic sanctions against Serbia. In March 1992, the conference reconvened in Lisbon in the form of constitutional talks mediated by Carrington and Portuguese Foreign Minister José Cutileiro. The talks succeeded in finding agreement among the Bosnian Serb, Croat, and Muslim leaders on a plan—known as the Lisbon Agreement—under which Bosnia would become an independent confederation of three ethnic units headed by a common central government. 1 However, this consensus rapidly deteriorated when discussion turned to designating specific areas for the communities.
After Bosnia descended into war, the European Community, for a time, continued its efforts to induce the Bosnian parties to agree on future constitutional arrangements for the republic. It also set about negotiating an end to hostilities, securing two cease-fire agreements in Sarajevo in April 1992. But the agreements were short-lived, and the European Community was forced to withdraw. In early May 1992 Cutileiro informed the parties that because of the deteriorating security situation in Sarajevo he had decided on what proved to be a permanent postponement of the EC peace conference. 2
While the European Community engaged in peacemaking efforts in the spring and summer of 1992, the United Nations concentrated on