Bosnia's Uneasy Peace: One-Year Report Card Shows Gains, Failures

By Colin Woodard, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 4, 1996 | Go to article overview

Bosnia's Uneasy Peace: One-Year Report Card Shows Gains, Failures


Colin Woodard, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


One year ago, a peace deal forged in Dayton, Ohio, halted the fighting in Bosnia. Since then, the country's once-thundering guns have remained silent, roads and bridges have been rebuilt, and an uneasy calm has returned. But much needs to be done before long-term stability can be assured.

On Dec. 4 and 5 in London, the parties involved in the original Dayton agreement will meet to make key decisions about how much the international community is willing to do to forge a foundation for peace. Included on the agenda is what kind of mandate to give a new force of 30,000 international troops.

Here is a look at the progress Bosnia has made and the challenges it faces: Hostilities ended Bosnia's three-year war took the lives of 60,000 to 200,000 people. The Dayton peace deal - and the 60,000 NATO and Russian troops sent to enforce it - made sure the killing stopped. The troops - 20,000 of whom were Americans - strictly enforced the military aspects of the peace agreement: withdrawal, demobilization, and disarmament of the country's three armies. These forces have reduced their sizes and put heavy weapons in places monitored by the NATO-led force called IFOR. "If somebody were to try to launch a military offensive, we would know about it way ahead of time," says IFOR spokesman Brett Boudreau. So far, IFOR has rebuilt 62 bridges, 330 miles of train tracks, more than 1,500 miles of roads, hundreds of schools and orphanages, 70 hospitals, and four airports - all at a cost of $330 million. IFOR troops have suffered 51 fatalities - mostly from car wrecks and land mines - but have not engaged in any battles. As long as an international military presence is in Bosnia, a return to war is unlikely. Balancing the apple cart Although the military aspects of the peace deal have been well-implemented, its civilian elements are tougher to enforce, due, in part, to the international character of the Bosnian project. The many countries, agencies, and civilian and military personnel charged with keeping peace, rebuilding infrastructure, and overseeing the creation of a government have their own ideas about what should be done. But the effort has gone smoothly, largely because decisionmakers have shied away from enforcing key provisions of the deal for fear of upsetting the careful balance between the many nations involved. The London conferees will look at the following issues and try to decide on responses. War criminals Of 74 people indicted by the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague, 67 are still free. IFOR's political masters - the United States most of all - have decided not to risk soldiers' lives to arrest them. But many observers feel the integrity of the peace process is threatened by the continued impunity of these alleged architects of ethnic cleansing and genocide. …

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Bosnia's Uneasy Peace: One-Year Report Card Shows Gains, Failures
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