The NATO Archives commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the IFOR peacekeeping mission

  • 05 Jan. 2016 -
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  • Last updated: 05 Sep. 2016 15:46

The Dayton Peace Agreement (formally known as the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina) was signed on 14 December 1995 at the Paris Peace Conference to mark the cessation of hostilities that tore that country apart between 1992 and 1995. It helped usher a new era for the Alliance as new partnerships and peacekeeping became central to NATO’s transition into a post-Cold War environment.

The Dayton Peace Agreement, which was reinforced by United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1031, outlined a key role for NATO in overseeing the military framework needed to establish security in the region. The resulting NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) was the Alliance’s first major crisis response operation, providing a multinational peacekeeping force of 60,000 troops that was deployed on 20 December 1995 for a one-year mission to provide military support for the civilian aspects of the Agreement.

To mark the 20th anniversary of these events, the NATO Archives prepared a special book of publicly disclosed NATO documents offering a unique opportunity to look back at the developments in the wake of the Peace Agreement. The publication features correspondence between NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali that also includes the monthly reports of IFOR’s mission that were mandated by article 25 of UNSCR 1031. A collection of the NATO-issued press communiqués related to the establishment and operation of the IFOR mission, along with a new photo story courtesy of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, helped round out the publication.

The occasion also provided the NATO Archives with the opportunity to reprint the first and last issues of THE IFOR INFORMER, the command information newspaper for in-theatre troops participating in the IFOR mission. Published in Naples at HQ AFSOUTH on a biweekly basis, this newspaper offered a range of stories that presented a broader record of the mission beyond its operational levels, providing a fascinating snapshot into the Alliance’s efforts to foster a sense of community within its first international peacekeeping force. The digital versions of the book and the two issues of the IFOR INFORMER are available in the PDF library on the right sidebar. A short video featuring the announcement of the IFOR mission and the March 8, 1996 visit by the North Atlantic Council to Sarajevo can also be viewed on this page.

All of these elements were featured in commemorative ceremonies that took place at NATO HQ Sarajevo on 20 January 2016 and at NATO HQ Brussels on 17 February 2016. Presided by Josip Brkić, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, both ceremonies featured special guest speakers who provided unique and complementary retrospectives about the historical events. In Sarajevo, NATO Archivist Ineke Deserno spoke of the challenges and the rewards of preserving the archives of NATO’s first operational mission while in Brussels, Jamie Shea, the NATO Spokesperson during the IFOR mission, spoke with spectacular recall of his first-hand experience engaging with the events as they unfolded. Coverage of these ceremonies can be found in the video and photo sections on this page.