Remarks at an Arria-Formula Meeting Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords (via VTC)

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 24, 2020


Thank you, Vasily.

The United States commends Bosnia and Herzegovina, like many of the other speakers, for reaching the milestone of 25 years of peace since signing the Dayton Accords. The agreement created a framework to rebuild and provide a stable and prosperous future for the people of the country. In that spirit, the United States envisioned a country as a democratic, inclusive, and prosperous one that would be on the path to full Euro-Atlantic integration. We envision a nation responsible for its own destiny.

The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina have displayed tremendous determination and resilience over the end of the war, but much work remains to be done, and the United States remains committed to helping with that work, as we have since the Accords were signed in Ohio 25 years ago.

Though much progress has been made, we have heard about some of the problems, hostilities have lingered, they manifest themselves in zero-sum ethno-nationalist politics. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders have a responsibility, a responsibility to work toward mutual respect, promote and protect human rights, improve governance, increase accountability, counter corruption. All of this, obviously, will better serve the population and elevate the country.

It is unfortunate that today’s discussion was not conceived and structured in a way that allowed for all stakeholders’ voices to be heard and incorporated. I heard your opening comments, Vasily, but Bosniak participation and inclusion in political dialogues is essential, we believe, for a stable and prosperous future for the country.

Let me say that, in addition to our political engagement, the United States has remained deeply committed to the country’s economic development. We have provided Bosnia and Herzegovina with over $2 billion in assistance since the 1990s and we continue to provide high-level diplomatic and military support to the OSCE Mission, the Office of the High Representative, and to the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo. We have partnered on post-war reconciliation, humanitarian assistance, human rights, the rule of law, infrastructure development, and the modernization of the defense sector.

Finally, let me echo the comments that have been made by my German and Estonian colleagues in particular. Given the remarks that we just heard from one of the speakers for 30 minutes, I feel it is important to state that the United States strongly supports the Office of the High Representative and High Representative Inzko. The designation of the High Representative was a key component of the Dayton Accords. The Office of the High Representative’s role in overseeing the implementation of civilian aspects of the Accords remains indispensable and necessary.

That said, as we heard, the Peace Implementation Council has set clear conditions that must be met before the High Representative’s office can be closed. The 5+2 conditions and objectives must first be met before Bosnia and Herzegovina is ready to graduate from international supervision.

Let me just end by saying the United States remains committed to assisting the country with the reforms necessary to complete 5+2. Our job is to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in creating a future in which all its citizens live in harmony. This will lead to a country, a Bosnia and Herzegovina that reaches its full potential, and can play a vital role in security and peace in the Western Balkans and in Europe as a whole.

Thank you.