Disunity of international community

 Soldiers of the British battalion monitor the movement of Bosnian Muslims at a United Nations checkpoint. 01 May 1994 Stari Vitez, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Soldiers of the British battalion monitor the movement of Bosnian Muslims at a United Nations checkpoint. 01 May 1994 Stari Vitez, Bosnia and Herzegovina (UN/John Isaac)

During 1992-1995, a United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNPROFOR) was deployed, but under a mandate that restricted soldiers' capacity to deter violence.

Bosnian separatists saw no reason to cease military action

The result was that Bosnian Serb and Croatian nationalist militants each saw no reason to cease military action. In July 1992, Boban followed the Serbian lead by declaring autonomy in Herceg-Bosna. By early 1993, Croat and Bosnian government forces were in direct conflict.

Bosnian-Croatian Federation

The Bosnian Army launched successful attacks in central Bosnia against the Serbs. Its priority, though, was to re-establish control over Abdic's Bihac fiefdom, which was achieved in August 1994. Abdic and over 20,000 Bosniak supporters fled to Croatia.International intervention stepped up after February 6,1994, when a mortar shell killed 68 civilians and wounded 200 in Sarajevo's marketplace, prompting action to enforce the removal of Bosnian Serb artillery from around Sarajevo. In a determined and internationally driven effort to equalize military capacity, a Bosnian-Croatian Federation was formed.

Bosnian Serb military seeks to eliminate UN "safe havens"
The blue dot on the map represents the Srebrenizca safe area 1994. (public source)

The blue dot on the map represents the Srebrenica safe area 1994.

Recognition that the tide had turned prompted the Bosnian Serb military to launch a new assault in 1995 to eliminate UN-supported "safe havens" in Bosnia. Among these was Srebrenica, where UN peacekeepers failed to prevent Serb forces led by General Mladic from killing over 8,000 Bosniak civilians, mainly men and boys, on July 11-12, 1995 after the fall of the town

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Srebrenica sparks international action
Srebrenica exhumation programme, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1996.(Courtesy of the ITFY)

Srebrenica exhumation programme, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1996.(Courtesy of the ICTY)

Together with renewed Serb paramilitary "ethnic cleansing" in Western Bosnia, the outrage in Srebrenica sparked more resolute international action.  

Shift in military situation leads to negotiated end to the war

NATO air strikes against Serbian artillery and command structures began in August, and a Bosnian Army offensive in Western Bosnia recaptured significant territory and reached within 12 kilometers of Banja Luka, the Bosnian Serb capital. The shift in the military balance compelled the Serb leadership to seek a negotiated end to the war, to avoid losing even more of the territory it had seized.