Artifact Highlight: Dayton Accords Items from Ambassador Christopher R. Hill

Artifact Highlight: Dayton Accords Items from Ambassador Christopher R. Hill

Artifact Highlight: Dayton Accords Items from Ambassador Christopher R. Hill 1024 799

On November 1, 1995, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and then-Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke opened negotiations with the presidents of Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia. The goal was to end a war that had claimed over 200,000 lives and forced two million from their homes in three years.

These successful negotiations resulted in the 1995 Dayton Accords. The Dayton Accords are an example of how diplomacy can end a complex and brutal conflict.

Christopher R. Hill, who would go on to serve as a U.S. ambassador six times, was a key part of the negotiating team and worked closely with Assistant Secretary Holbrooke. For his work during the Dayton negotiations, Hill received the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award and the Robert S. Fraser Award for Peace Negotiations.

Ambassador Hill recently donated a few items related to the negotiations to the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD).

A Photo of a Meeting with President Clinton

President Clinton in a meeting sitting in a circle with Ambassador Christopher R. Hill and others

Meeting photo. Gift of Ambassador Christopher R. Hill; Official White House Photo. Collection of the National Museum of American Diplomacy.

Above is a photograph from a meeting on August 23, 1995, attended by U.S. President Bill Clinton (right foreground), Secretary of State Warren Christopher (left side of the circle, seated), and other members of Clinton’s national security team. Christopher Hill is standing against the bookshelves, next to Secretary Christopher, holding a white binder. The meeting took place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where President Clinton was vacationing.

One week later, on August 30, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched Operation Deliberate Force. This air campaign was a key part of NATO’s military intervention in the Bosnian conflict. A few months later, negotiations would begin in November that would result in the Dayton Accords.

A Welcome Letter to the Proximity Peace Talks

A letter welcoming Ambassador Hill to the meeting

Welcome letter. Gift of Ambassador Christopher R. Hill. Collection of the National Museum of American Diplomacy.

This letter, part of the welcome materials given to all participants in the negotiations, was written by Wright-Patterson Air Force Commander Henry Viccellio, Jr. It refers to the Proximity Peace Talks, the official name for the talks. After their success, the talks and the accords signed there became more commonly referred to by their location: Dayton.

Menus from the Dayton Accords Negotiations

A menu from Milosevic Lobster Dinner signed by the parties

Lobster dinner menus. Gift of Ambassador Christopher R. Hill. Collection of the National Museum of American Diplomacy.

During the tough, weeks-long talks held at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, negotiators from all sides stayed in quarters on the compound to help facilitate negotiations and prevent all sides from using the news media to influence their outcome.

A few days after the start of negotiations on November 1, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević and his delegation hosted a lobster dinner for the American delegation. Held in the base’s Officer’s Club, it was a social event and goodwill gesture to the Americans as hosts. Members of the American delegation autographed these copies of the menu.

Contribute to the museum

We are actively seeking artifacts that represent American diplomacy and the work of the U.S. Department of State. These artifacts can come from a variety of individuals and sources. Anyone currently or previously working in a diplomatic capacity might have objects that could be a good fit for our collection. If you have items you might be interested in donating, please email us for more information.

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