The Balkan Odyssey Digital Archive

Scope and Content

The Balkan Odyssey Digital Archive comprises 760 PDF versions of documents relating to the negotiations for peace in the Former Yugoslavia, particularly those relating to the work of Lord Owen, the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia and the UN.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Owen was born in Plymouth in 1938. He was Member of Parliament for the city from 1966, retiring as the longest-serving M.P. in 1992 and becoming Lord Owen of the City of Plymouth. He was Navy Minister 1968-70, Health Minister 1974-76 and Foreign Secretary February 1977 - May 1979. He was a founding member of the Social Democratic Party in 1981, and led them 1983-87 and 1988-90. Lord Owen was appointed Co-Chairman of Steering Committee of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia in August 1992, and was made Companion of Honour in 1994. He was installed as Chancellor of the University of Liverpool in July 1996.

Lord Owen stepped down as Co-Chairmen of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia (ICFY) in May 1995, and soon afterwards began work on Balkan Odyssey, his personal account of the struggle for peace. Material continued to be added to the Academic Edition of the CD-ROM until 23 November 1995, including material from the settlement reached at Dayton, Ohio on 21 November. According to the project team, the book and the CD-ROM of multimedia archives are "inextricably linked together, but are conceptually distinct". The text documents from the CD-ROM have been reproduced in this digital finding aid. Information about the production of Balkan Odyssey and acknowledgements of assistance were provided on the CD-ROM.

The ICFY was an "innovative enterprise combining the efforts of the United Nations and the European Community (EC), as well as other international organisations" (Report S/24795). It's Permanent Co-Chairmen were the Head of State of the Presidency of European Community (the European Union since the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty on 1 November 1993) and the Secretary General of the United Nations. It first met at the London Conference 26-27 August 1992, where the Steering Committee of representatives from 31 countries was established, led by two Co-Chairmen; Lord Owen representing the President of the EC/EU, and Cyrus Vance (later Thorvald Stoltenberg) representing the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali. The Co-Chairmen and Steering Committee acted under the authority of the London Conference, and neither the UN Security Council nor the EU Council of Forign Ministers were involved in the internal workings of the conference, other than noting the role of the Secretary General as Co-Chairman.

The following documents, available in PDF format, are provided for background information:

  • Chronology of events, from the first meeting of the ICFY Steering Committee at the Geneva Conference on 3 September 1992  to Lord Owen's final meeting on 13 June 1995
  • Glossary of acronyms and terminology used in the material
  • Dramatis Personae

Lord Owen also made the following notes on various key players in the Balkan crises:


The material has been arranged as it was on the Academic Edition of the CD-ROM.

BODA/1  Transcripts of material relating to the peace initiatives

BODA/2  Transcripts of material relating to the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia (ICFY)

BODA/3  Transcripts of the papers of Lord David Owen

BODA/4  Transcripts of material relating to the United Nations

BODA/5  Miscellaneous transcripts (May 1992 - August 1995)

Access Information

There are no access restrictions.

Archivist's Note

The Balkan Odyssey Digital Archive has been listed in EAD using Xemacs Open Source Text editor. The text files from the Balkan Odyssey CD-ROM are provided in PDF format. The sound and video files and maps have not as yet been converted and made available in the Digital Archive. The CD-ROM was originally developed by the electric company in the Apple Media Kit 1.2 (Apple Media Tool and Apple Media Tool Programming Environment), using a POET 2.1 database for archive management and Art of Memory's TextPak for text handling and hypertext.

The following steps were taken to make the text files available though the Digital Archive. The files were copied from the CDROM onto a desktop hard-disk. These originally had a .PAR file extension, and attempts were made to find the meaning of this extension and the necessary software to render these files. Unfortunately this proved impossible. OpenOffice 2.2 was used to open these files, with the best-fit character encoding filters being found by trial and error. The resulting text was edited to remove the encoded formatting instructions used by the extinct application. OpenOffice Macros were developed to export an open file into separate Portable Document Format (PDF), Rich Text Format (RTF), and Microsoft Word documents, simultaneously. The different formats were encoded using the output filters provided by OpenOffice.

The original files have been preserved in their original format, as well as being subjected to this migration.

Related Material

The David Owen Papers are held by the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives (ref. D709). They include correspondence, speech transcripts, articles and other works written by David Owen, reports, memoranda and committee papers, publications and news cuttings, photographs and other material relating to David Owen's political career from his early membership of the Labour Party until his resignation from the House of Commons, dating from c.1962-1992. The collection also includes a small group of papers relating to David Owen's personal and family life, dating from c.1943-1990.

The Cyrus R Vance and Grace Sloane Vance Papers are held by Yale University Manuscripts and Archives


David Owen, Balkan Odyssey (London: Victor Gollancz , 1995)

B.G. Ramcharan (ed.), The International Conference of the Former Yugoslavia: official papers (The Hague; London: Kluwer Law International , 1997)

Ian Oliver, War and Peace in the Balkans: the diplomacy of conflict in the former Yugoslavia (London: I.B. Tauris , 2005)

Graham Messervy-Whiting, Peace Conference on former Yugoslavia: the politico-military interface (London: Brassey , for the Centre for Defence Studies, 1994)

Robert J. Donia and John V.A. Fine, Bosnia and Herzegovinia: a tradition betrayed (London: 1994 Hurst & Co.)

Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia (Harmondsworth: Penguin , 1995)

Laura Silber and Allan Little, The Death of Yugoslavia (London: BBC Books , 1996)

David Owen, Time to Declare (London: M. Joseph , 1991)

Kenneth Harris, David Owen: Personally Speaking - to Kenneth Harris (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson , 1987)