BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Lord Peter Carrington and the Beginnings of the Bosnian Mediation Process

Fri8  Apr04:20pm(20 mins)
CWB Syndicate Room 2


Alex Cruikshanks


Ever since the Bosnian War broke out, the wartime diplomatic process has been hotly debated. Early general accounts (Woodward 1995; Gow 1997) inspired various specialist studies of specific states (Simms 2001; Power 2002; Both 2000), international organisations (Glaurdic 2011), and wider themes such as cartography (Campbell 1998; Toal & Dahlman 2011) and how these factors affected the peace process. However, significantly less scholarship has focused on the individual mediators chairing this process. These men (as they were invariably male) generally saw themselves as impartial facilitators, yet possessed considerable discursive influence over the norms and assumptions through which the negotiations were conducted, such as determining which local actors they considered to legitimately represent particular communities. How they viewed Bosnian society, and acted on those views, is thus vital to fully understanding diplomacy in 1990s Bosnia. This paper will provide a close analysis of one such mediator, the British statesman Lord Peter Carrington. As the first major international figure to chair peace negotiations, Carrington had a key role in determining the discursive framework in which talks took place. This paper examines the lenses through which he saw the war, including his prior experiences in peace mediation, and his perceptions and prejudices about the Balkans, to see how these impacted how he approached his mediation activities.