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Focus on Humanitarian Aid

Serbian Forces Target Civilians Previous Prosecuting the Crime of Genocide Next

The Dayton Accords, negotiated under the auspices of the United States in Dayton Ohio ended the war, and established two state “entities”—the Serb Republic and the Bosnian Federation—joined by a weak central government.

While the NATO campaign proved decisive in ending the conflict, this intervention did not have the imprimatur of the full international community. Since the beginning of the conflict, the UN and international leaders had refused to confront the Bosnian Serbs, fearing strong action would complicate peace negotiations or jeopardize humanitarian aid efforts; the central focus of the international response to the conflict in Bosnia was providing humanitarian aid, led by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Even when it became clear that the attacks in Srebrenica were being planned, the international community did not offer the UN peacekeepers stationed there additional support or assistance. And although individual policymakers at times took strong stands against human rights abuses in Bosnia, in general the UN, the European Union, the United States, and Russia minimized the aggressive nature of the conflict and treated the Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats as equal “warring parties.”

Providing humanitarian aid instead of confronting atrocities against civilians was the central focus of the international response to the conflict in Bosnia. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees led an enormous aid operation offering assistance to those displaced, malnourished and needing medical treatment as a result of the war.