Mapping the Dayton Peace Accords

'Dayton' has entered the language as shorthand for a certain type of diplomacy: lock everyone up until they reach an agreement.

(Richard Holbrooke)

FAMA Methodology is mapping out the events and testimonies into a narrative that serves as our contribution to learning about the fall of Yugoslavia 1991-1999. Our research methodology and approach to setting a chronology of key points paved the way for a multimedia educational Knowledge Transfer Module, which will be widely accessible thanks to its bi-lingual content (B/C/S – ENG), online format and presence across social media.

A living document: The Dayton Peace Agreement is a momentous document resulting from life-or-death negotiations because the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina had to be stopped. 'Dayton' is also a living document, constantly targeted by political manipulation, both in 1995 and 28 years after it was signed. For these reasons, the Peace Agreement can be viewed as 

  1. a complex political and legal document whose implementation is subject to various interpretations and (geo)political influences; and 
  2. as an art of negotiations that was developed and adapted in response to the unstable (geo)political dynamics of the time. 

In that context, FAMA Methodology has decided to focus on the Art of Negotiations itself. This is how a window of insight can be opened into the topic to help contemporary and future generations make sense of the causes and consequences of the Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Today (2023), we are setting up a 'Knowledge Transfer Module – The Dayton Peace Accords' to study the art of negotiations with a particular focus on the 1995 model of the 'U.S. Shuttle Diplomacy' and 'Close Proximity Talks' at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, OH).

Shuttle Diplomacy is the action of an outside party in serving as an intermediary between (or among) principals in a dispute without direct principal-to-principal contact. The process entails successive travel ("shuttling") by the intermediary from one principal's working location to another.

(Richard Holbrooke)

Our approach to this topic began in 1997 and gradually developed through individual projects dealing with Dayton from different perspectives and in various multimedia formats. Each of these projects was presented as a standalone education model in a production format suited to its time. When we started, we couldn't know in advance the direction and sequencing our work on 'Dayton' would develop. Still, we knew each project would stand the test of time and be finalized in the Knowledge Transfer Module format. Even though each project has its own format, they all share a common denominator – how to map the story of negotiations as the basis for new education and communication models?

Our approach to the complexity of the topic and the project production was guided by the basic rule: 'to present the facts in a unique multimedia format with a high degree of creativity, making them available to a diverse audience, from experts to individuals, but without compromising the integrity of the historical context and primary sources of information.'

In time, FAMA developed a research, editorial and creative methodology that enabled us to communicate the complexity of events surrounding the fall of Yugoslavia in a way that enables users to understand the historical background while at the same time becoming part of the story through interaction with the content.

Through the Knowledge Transfer Module, we are not just opening a chronological window of our methodology but also launching new education and communication models that are adaptable and responsive to 21st-century challenges.

Module Development Chronology

Our process for mapping the Dayton Peace Accords has developed over the past 26 years, from our first project in 1997 until today. In order to explain the development of our methodology, we will list all the projects in chronological order and explain which format we used to present the content of each educational segment.


Format: Video 'Dossier' (TV)

[DOSSIER: Implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords – TV Documentary]

We started like this: Who were the principal signatories of the Peace Agreement, and what was the context? Once we defined this question, we opened the format of video profiles for television broadcasting. It was the first time that the three presidents were presented in the context of the fall of Yugoslavia and the signing of the Peace Agreement: Slobodan Milošević (Serbia), Alija Izetbegović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Franjo Tuđman (Croatia). At the time of production (1997), in the immediate aftermath of the war, television was the only medium able to attract the attention of a broader and more diverse audience. At that time, while peace was being established, little was known about what went on during the negotiations and into whose hands we had been placed. Due to the nature of wars, citizens were familiar with aspects of the war that happened in their local communities. With this project, we introduced who, what, where, and how these processes occurred.

Of course, information about the profiles of the presidents and their roles in the wars of 1991-1996 will be expanded in years to come as it becomes available, while our project was completed immediately after the war, using the documents and facts available at the time.


Format: Illustrated Album (Shuttle Diplomacy and Negotiations in Dayton)

[The Dayton Peace Accords: Mapping Negotiations, FAMA Collection Album]

In 2000, we got a real chance to get at the heart of the art of negotiations through first-hand testimony. The project's author Miran Norderland received special permission from the lead negotiator and architect of the Peace Accords, Richard Holbrooke, to make an illustrated album about the process and the art of negotiations based on his newly published book To End a War, focusing primarily on (1) the shift in U.S. policy towards BiH; (2) the 'U.S. Shuttle diplomacy'; and (3) 'Close Proximity Talks' at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, OH) with accompanying prologue and context.

Through the medium of illustrations, we divided the book into chronological segments, tracing the preparations and the 21 days of negotiations in Dayton (when none of the participants were allowed to leave the base before reaching an agreement). The Album follows the chronology of events brought to life through hand-drawn illustrations, with original dialogues and statements, the ups and downs of the negotiations, the drama and the turning points. We captured the dynamics of the negotiations and the energy of the lead negotiator working with his team steadfastly, with skill and the art of negotiation, to dismantle the mechanism of hostilities and end the war. The Illustrated Album was both a book, a script, and an ideal document for readers who previously had no access to such content.


Format: Educational Study Table

[Educational 'Study Table': Mapping the Dayton Peace Accords]

In 2015, we developed a new format: the Education Study Table, adapted to its time, offering new possibilities to visualize the art of negotiation. This format was, in large part, based on Richard Holbrooke's book To End a War. The mapping methodology used attractive and functional design to map out all the participants in the negotiations and the major developments in the format of an educational study table divided into four main themes: (1) Background – the fall of Yugoslavia and the war in BiH; (2) the 'U.S. Shuttle diplomacy'; (3) 'Close Proximity Talks' at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, OH); and (4) post-Dayton BiH (in the context of the 20th anniversary of the Peace Accords).

The Education Study Table was set up in a special room of the National Museum in Sarajevo and was later added to the permanent exhibition of the Historical Museum in Sarajevo. Numerous visitors, including university students, schoolchildren, citizens, tourists and researchers, can engage with this format and a video-documentary animation projected on a screen. Without any previous knowledge about the events, they can see the big picture and understand the complexity of the negotiations that preceded the signing of the Peace Accords.


Format: Video-Documentary Animation

[Video Documentary Animation: Mapping the Dayton Peace Accords]

In order to create the thematic context to go along with the exhibition of the Education Study Table at a museum, we opted for the format of a video-documentary animation that follows the chronology of the fall of Yugoslavia and the wars of 1991-1999. The chronology leads us to the watershed moment of the negotiations in Dayton that ended the war with a peace agreement. The video-documentary animation proved helpful as an educational tool to introduce viewers to this very complex topic in a simple and attractive manner.

The video documentary animation was shown on TV stations and our YouTube channel. Its primary function, however, was to accompany the Education Study Table set up in the museum. These two formats were perfectly complementary in providing a clearer understanding of our topic on the art of negotiations and how to end a war.

2018, 2019, 2020

Format: TV/Online talk show (over 50 interviews and 10-minute statements)

[Time is UP! Vrijeme ističe... multimedia TV/Online talk-show]

We initiated the video project 'Time is UP!' to explain the link between the past and the present that keeps driving a political, social and economic crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the centre of that matrix is the so-called 'Dayton reference' – the Dayton Peace Agreement is blamed for everything that is happening or failing to happen. The fundamental issue of that time and our series, where we had 80 participants over three seasons (analysts, sociologists, psychologists, researchers, artists, doctors, politicians, etc.), was ARE WE SAFE?

In all the categories of fear and political and public health uncertainty in post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina, we presented various topics in the talk-show format, contextualizing the big picture and visualizing index data. The aim was to present complex topics so that they are understandable and informative for a diverse audience.


Format: Educational Knowledge Transfer Module

[Knowledge Transfer Module – The Art of Negotiations: How to End a War – The Dayton Peace Accords]

Presently, we are working on this educational Module that brings together all the previous segments into one whole: the Dossier, Illustrated Album, Educational Study Table, Video-Documentary Animation, oral history, maps, texts, essays and reports. The Module is suited to online formats of visualization, research and mass distribution of content in BiH, the region and the world at all levels of education dealing with war studies and how conflicts can be brought to an end through peace agreements. By focusing on the art of negotiations that ended such a big and tragic war, we hope to contribute to more comprehensive research of this case study as a starting point for ending the wars we are currently witnessing, with their long-lasting causes and deferred solutions.

There are no ideal peace agreements; someone will always feel short-changed, but the agreement featured in our Module fulfilled its primary purpose: the war in BiH ended on 21 November 1995 with an agreement signed by its main protagonists who became guarantors of peace.