Civil Peace Service in the Western Balkans
The consequences of the Balkan wars can still be clearly felt in the societies of the successor states of former Yugoslavia. Rapprochement and the re-building of trust within and between the societies remain difficult. Particularly problematic are one-sided interpretations of history and the rejection of responsibility in each own sides. In many areas of life, such as in schools, ethnic separation prevails. There is little room for encounters across ethnic / national boundaries.
Against this background, within the framework of the Civil Peace Service we support our local partners to achieve the following main objectives:
• social relations based on mutual trust and empathy as well as fundamental values, such as human dignity, nonviolence and tolerance / acceptance of diversity and enhance the ability to handle conflict
• to establish a peace-supporting and responsible dealing with the violent past.
The „Centar za nenasilnu akciju“ (Centre for Nonviolent Action, CNA) is a non-governmental organisation dedicated towards working for peacebuilding, strengthening civil society, nonviolence and cooperation across borders. The focus of their work is on Dealing with the Past together with war veterans of the regional civil wars of the 1990s and media work (documentaries, etc.). In each of the two offices in Sarajevo and Belgrade are four employed staff working, all of which bring many years of training experience. CNA has a regional approach and thus, operates in the entire Western Balkan region.
In 2001 Mirovna Akzija (Peace Action, PA) was founded as an association of informal groups of pacifists, military critics and conscientious objectors, with the aim of contributing to a culture of peace and nonviolence in Macedonia. During the first years most of the activities were geared towards the recognition of the right to object military service. Through the direct cooperation with the Centre for Nonviolent Action (CNA) on the creation of a documentary in Macedonia, as well as the participation in training activities on Dealing with the Past, this subject area became the new focus. In 2008 already the setting up of a documentation center began. Within the framework of the CPS-cooperation project testimonies of witnesses are being collected and published in Macedonian and Albanian language. To raise awareness of the special role of war veterans and war victims in the process of dealing with the past dialogue meetings and trainings are implemented.
Action for Nonviolence and Peacebuilding (ANP) was founded in 2002 in Gjilan in Kosovo to promote a cultur of nonviolence, to develop a model for citizens being active in peacebuilding and to initiate inter-ethnic dialogue and nonviolent conflict transformation. Its activities are focussed on trainings, public debates and campaigning.
In the framework of our cooperation with ANP we want to support the construtive dealing with the past while including the local veteran associations.
The First Childrens‘ Embassy in the World – Megjashi was founded in 1992 in Macedonia, with the aim to promote the rights of children and ensure they are adequately provided for. For example, they host an SOS-telephone number, which children can dial in emergency situations. Megjashi looks back on a history of successful lobby work. Under the lead of Megjashi, all NGOs working on children’s rights in Macedonia came together to form a consortium. Besides this area of work, throughout the years peace education also developed into a focal point of their work. In the field of campaigning they also work on this, as well as related topics. The aim of our cooperation with Megjashi is to develop peace education in schools or rather to anchor it in the national curriculum.
In 2002 the Centre for Balkan Cooperation – LOJA was founded in Macedonia, in reaction to the increasing inter-ethnic tension in the country and the negative consequences this development brought, especially to the lives of young people in Tetovo. LOJA’s activities aim to prevent violence and contribute towards nonviolent conflict transformation within population groups , especially among children and youth. Since many years the center offers inter-ethnic programs, such as children and youth theater with a social character or dance theater. Out of LOJA’s inter-ethnic youth work the perspective developed to establish a curriculum for inter-ethnic youth work at universities and make this an integral part of the education of teachers. Up to now, this has been achieved in three of the five Macedonian universities.
With the non-governmental organisation „Sezam" from Zenica, we seek to also strengthen peace education and inter-ethnic cooperation in schools in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sezam wants to contribute to a humanization of society, which includes the renewal of interpersonal relationships. Their approach is based on the principle of nonviolent communication and the prevention of violence.
Project Details at a Glance
“Dealing with the past and strengthening inter-ethnic relations in the education system“
Action for Nonviolence and Peacebuilding (ANP)
International Peace Worker:
Nenad Vukolsavljevic (CNA)
Davorka Turk (CNA)
Stefan Schneider (ANP)
Laura Vollmann (Sezam)
Helga Saathoff (Regional Coordinator)
Contact person: Joss Becker jbecker(at)kurvewustrow.org