Author: Alex Williams

Civil society in Kosovo and Serbia call for the rule of law to be respected in Deçan/Dečani

Civil society organisations from Kosovo and Serbia have come together to condemn a recent statement by the mayor of Deçan/Dečani, Bashkim Ramosaj, vowing that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo on Deçan/Dečane Monastery’s land ownership will never be implemented. The signatories to the statement call for the rule of law to be upheld.

Civil society in Kosovo and Serbia call for the rule of law to be respected in Deçan/Dečani

We, the undersigned, are concerned by the negative and lasting consequences of the recent statement by the mayor of Deçan/Dečani, Bashkim Ramosaj, vowing that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo on Deçan/Dečane Monastery’s land ownership will never be implemented.

All judgments of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo should be upheld. The constitution provides important guarantees to all Kosovo’s citizens, yet such guarantees only have real meaning if court decisions are implemented by physical and legal entities throughout Kosovo.

A failure to implement legal judgments only leads to uncertainty for all Kosovo’s citizens, and only serves to undermine faith and trust in the rule of law in Kosovo.

We urge all those holding elected office to refrain from giving statements which only serve to undermine confidence in the rule of law.


  1. Aktiv
  2. Civic initiatives (Gradjanske inicijative)
  3. Center for Peace and Tolerance
  4. Democracy + (D+)
  5. Forum for Development and Multiethnic Collaboration (FDMC)
  6. Gorazdevac Media Group
  7. Jelena Lončar, Academic, University of Belgrade
  8. Kosovo Law Institute
  9. Media Center Caglavica
  10. New Social Initiative (NSI)
  11. NGO Be Active 16, Presevo
  12. The Future, Bujanovac
  13. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  14. Vjollca Krasniqi, Academic, University of Pristina
  15. YIHR Serbia
  16. YIHR Kosovo
  17. YUCOM
  18. Valon Arifi, Civic activist

CSOs condemn hate speech against Albanians by Serbia’s Interior Minister, Aleksandar Vulin

Civil society organisations in Kosovo and Serbia have come together to condemn the use of hate speech targeting Albanians by Serbia’s interior minister, Aleksandar Vulin.

We, the undersigned civil society organizations from Kosovo and Serbia, strongly condemn the offensive and derogatory language by Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Aleksandar Vulin, against Albanians. We urge the Serbian government, respectively the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, to react and condemn the use of such hate speech by Minister Vulin and appeal against the use of the word ‘Šiptar’.

On May 20th 2022 Minister Vulin used the word ‘Šiptar’ repeatedly to refer to Albanians, and his statement to the media has since been published on the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia. In 2018 the Serbian judiciary found the word ‘Šiptar’ to be offensive and it was labeled as hate speech. Despite this, Minister Vulin has actively and consistently used the word when referring to the Albanians, and continues to do so without any consequence to his public position. Public officials who use hate language have no place in government.  

Hate speech undermines the diffusion of European values in our societies, including the normative framework on human rights, rule of law, and the functioning of a democratic and tolerant society. Additionally, when hate speech is used by senior government officials freely, to target a particular ethnic-group, it can have devastating consequences, as it fosters discrimination, ethno-political radicalization and potentially leads to violence. The rhetoric used by Minister Vulin in his speech is the same rhetoric media and officials used during the nineties to dehumanize the Albanian population and foster maltreatment, human rights abuses, and ultimately war crimes in Kosovo.

The use of hate speech by senior government officials, such as the case with Minister Vulin, emboldens those in our societies who work against peace and the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and ultimately against a European future for all countries in our region.   


  1. Aktiv
  2. The Balkan Forum
  3. Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG)
  4. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCBP)
  5. Civic Initiatives
  6. Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT)
  7. Democracy Plus (D+)
  8. Foundation BFPE For a Responsible Society
  9. The Human Rights Council – Bujanovac
  10. InTER
  11. Jelena Lončar, Academic, University of Belgrade
  12. Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (QKSS)
  13. Kosova Democratic Institute (KDI)
  14. Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
  15. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  16. New Social Initiative (NSI), Mitrovica
  17. Rahim Salihi, Civil Society Activist, Bujanovac
  18. Valon Arifi, Civil Society Activist
  19. Vjollca Krasniqi, Academic, University of Pristina
  20. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  21. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia (YIHR Serbia) 
  22. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS)

Integrating Gender into community-level peacebuilding: Lessons from Libya

Since 2013, Peaceful Change initiative has been supporting community-level peacebuilding initiatives in more than 40 Libyan municipalities. This report captures our experience and lessons learned from nearly 10 years of integrating gender into our programme. Key lessons include: 

  • Using a gender lens to analyse conflict was key to increasing community understanding of why women’s agency in local peace and conflict should not be underestimated 
  • Understanding interests and needs of diverse groups of women helped to offer relevant incentives for them to engage in local peacebuilding activities 
  • Working with men on their attitudes and behaviours and identifying ‘male allies’ helped to create a safer space for women to participate 
  • Funding and opportunities for women to strengthen their leadership skills and implement their own initiatives represented an important tool to deepen women’s participation 
  • Safely raising the visibility of women peace leaders helped shift social perceptions towards women and their role in peace and decision making 

Download the full report

Find out more about the Social Peace and Local Development (SPLD) programme

PCi recognises the work of Kosovo journalists reporting on multi-ethnic co-existence

PCi’s Media Award for showcasing multi-ethnic co-existence in Kosovo were handed out on 3 March 2022 in Pristina to journalists and media who participated in the category of Albanian language media content.

The Media Award was created as a follow-up activity initiated by PCi’s Media Consultation Dialogues, which constitute the backbone of media work in PCi’s Balkans programme. They bring together media professionals from Kosovo and Serbia to analyse problems and seek solutions to improve the quality of reporting and to battle divisive narratives. A repeated conclusion of these discussions was that there is a lack of stories about ordinary life, about living together, about peaceful multi-ethnic coexistence, both in Kosovo and Serbia. The media picture that Albanians and Serbs get about one another from Kosovar and Serbian media is almost exclusively bleak, black and white – and rich with divisive narratives.

By establishing an annual Media Award, PCi wanted to incentivize, promote, and reward media content from Kosovo and Serbia that explore themes related to the co-existence of communities. The Media Award Call for Application was launched last spring. The Call for Application can be accessed here.

Further to the Belgrade event which awarded media content in the Serbian language, the Award Ceremony for contributions in Albanian was held in Pristina on 3 March. The award jury was made up of three distinguished Kosovo journalists, Brikenda Rexhepi from Koha Television, Gentiana Begolli from the national broadcaster Radio Television of Kosovo, and Ismet Hajdari, from Agence France-Presse (AFP) Kosovo Bureau.

The first prize in the audio-visual category was awarded to Ardiana Thaçi for her story “Heshtja qe vrau” (The silence that killed), which can be accessed here. In the written category, the first prize went to Fitim Gashi on “Të pastrehët e pandemisë” (The Homeless of the Pandemic).

 The jury members emphasised the importance of an award which motivates journalists in divided societies. They noted that “This is the only award of this kind in the entire region. It encourages journalists to present the reality between communities which is vital for a healthy social coexistence, without anger and hatred.”

Russian aggression against Ukraine raises profound concerns in the Western Balkans

PCi hereby presents in full a joint statement issued by civil society organisations and activists from Serbia and Kosovo condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Joint statement by the CSOs from Kosovo and Serbia on the potential consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the Western Balkans.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has negatively impacted the international rules-based order. The Western Balkans is especially vulnerable to global developments which put at risk international law, democracy, and human rights.

We, the representatives of civil society organizations from Kosovo and Serbia, condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and call upon our governments to align with the European Union’s stance.

Furthermore, we urge the EU and its member states to change the paradigm of enlargement to ensure a practical and proactive approach to the European perspective of the Western Balkans. We also call on the wider international community to support our region in order to secure sustainable peace and security.  

The consequences of such breaches of international law could be extremely destabilising for our post conflict region. In view of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, this is a defining moment in history; one that calls for a prompt response from our governments and the international community to uphold respect for the rule of law, international law, solidarity, and human rights in the Western Balkans.

The current situation reiterates the importance of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia for securing sustainable peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all citizens. It offers an opportunity to reflect upon and re-design the dialogue process beyond the notion of constructive ambiguity towards an inclusive process that would lead to a legally binding and long-lasting agreement. Urgent action is needed from the EU to push for and support substantial reforms – particularly where the rule of law is concerned – in order to accelerate the EU integration of the Western Balkans. 

Civil society in Kosovo and Serbia has actively engaged in peacebuilding processes over the years, representing community voices and the daily concerns of citizens which are largely overshadowed by mainstream politics. During this time of crisis, we ask the international community to support us in condemning divisive rhetoric, authoritarian politics, and populist and nationalist discourses which serve to silence critical voices and generate fear and distrust among communities. 

Aiming to reduce the spread of disinformation that may lead to possible escalation of conflict, we also call upon media representatives to fully commit to impartial and unbiased reporting.


  1. Aktiv
  2. Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), Mitrovica
  3. Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG)
  4. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCBP)
  5. Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Balkans (CisBalk)
  6. Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT), Gracanica
  7. Centre for Regionalism
  8. Civic Initiatives
  9. Democracy Plus (D+)
  10. Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society (BFPE)
  11. Igor Novaković, Analyst, Belgrade
  12. Institute for Territorial Economic Development (InTER)
  13. Institute for European Affairs (IEA)
  14. Institute for Serbian and Albanian Coexistence
  15. Jelena Lončar, Academic, University of Belgrade 
  16. Kosovo Center for Security Studi (KCSS)
  17. Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
  18. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  19. Milan Antonijević, Lawyer
  20. New Social initiative (NSI), Mitrovica
  21. Peer Educators Network (PEN), Prishtinë
  22. Rahim Salihi, civil society activist, Bujanovac.
  23. Radio KIM Media Group
  24. The Balkan Forum
  25. Valon Arifi, civil society activist
  26. Vjollca Krasniqi, Academic, University of Pristina
  27. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  28. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia
  29. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo


PCi and Chatham House co-host the webinar ‘Societal Impact of the Conflict Economy in Libya’

PCi and Chatham House co-hosted the webinar: ‘Societal Impact of the Conflict Economy in Libya’ on 29 March 2022.

The webinar launched PCi’s new report, ‘Unpacking the Impact of Conflict Economy Dynamics on Six Libyan Municipalities’ that fills an important gap in our understanding of conflict dynamics in Libya, arguing that political elites and armed groups cannot be assessed in a vacuum, without exploration of the socio-economic context of the communities that they claim to represent. The research takes a localised approach, exploring factors that influence local conflict economy dynamics, which vary from area to area. It is also a human centred approach, viewing Libyans as participants in the local conflict economy – both willing and unwilling – rather than only as passive victims of the conflict-affected environment in which they live.

The report concludes that reducing the societal impact of Libya’s conflict economy cannot rely solely on high level elite bargains – and a top-down approach to security sector reform. National level conflict dynamics and local instability are linked and this must be tackled via a twin track approach whereby local interventions are supported by the implementation of national-level reforms that address structural issues. In addition, in support of local social cohesion, the paper recommends the establishment of economic-social peace partnerships that promote pro-peace business activities across conflict divides. It also recommends conflict sensitive livelihood and peacebuilding interventions that minimise the risk of assistance worsening conflict dynamics, and that maximise opportunities to contribute to sustainable peace.

Panellists include:

  • Emad Badi, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Advisor at DCAF and Senior Analyst at Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime
  • Virginie Collombier, Part-time Professor, Scientific Coordinator chez Middle East Directions Programme, European University Institute
  • Tim Eaton, Senior Research Fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House and XCEPT Research Lead for the Libya, East and West Africa Case Study


  • Fleur Auzimour Just, Chief Executive Officer of the Peaceful Change initiative

To view the webinar, click here

Libya Credit: UN OCHA Giles Clark

PCi Celebrates International Women’s Day 2022: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”

PCi supports women’s inclusion and empowerment in Libya through, leadership, participation, representation and visibility. We have captured the lessons we have learned from nearly 10 years of this work in our new report: “Integrating Gender into the Social Peace and Local Development Programme in Libya.” Key insights include:

  • Safely raising the visibility of women in peace leadership supports a shift in social perceptions towards women and their role
  • Inclusivity audits increase understanding of the quality of women’s participation, whilst working on male attitudes and behaviours has helped us to create a safer space for women to participate effectively
  • Pragmatic, culturally-relevant and context-specific arguments are essential in persuading men of the need for women’s involvement in community initiatives

PCi gives annual awards to journalists and media for stories on multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia

In PCi organised Media Consultation dialogues (the backbone of media work in our Balkans programme) which bring together media professionals from Kosovo and Serbia to analyse the media scene, one thing has persistently popped up as an issue – the lack of stories about ordinary life, about living together, about peaceful coexistence. The media picture that Albanians and Serbs get about one another from Kosovar and Serbian media is almost exclusively bleak, black and white and full of divisive narratives.

To counter such narratives, last spring PCi launched an annual award for the best stories about interethnic coexistence in Albanian and in Serbian language and in two categories – audio/visual and written submissions. The award ceremony for the best stories in Serbian was held on February 28th in Belgrade’s Media centre. The Albanian language awards ceremony will be held on Thursday the 3rd of March.  

The jury consisted of three of the most prominent and distinguished Serbian journalists, Jelena Obućina from Newsmax Adria, Tamara Skrozza from the news agency FoNet and Milivoje Mihajlović who works for the public service broadcaster, RTS.

The first prize in the audio and video format was awarded to Zorica Krstić Vorgučić from Radio KIM for her TV story “Why is it important to speak the language of our neighbours”. Thanking the jury and PCi, Ms. Krstić Vorgučić said that it is impossible to escape the fact that Serbs and Albanians are distanced from each other and that they live parallel lives. “Language is important for changes to happen and most Serbs do not speak Albanian. There are some new initiatives, some new language courses and I hope that things will change for the better”.

The first prize for the written format went to Jelena Jorgačević, a reporter from the Belgrade weekly newsmagazine “Vreme” for her story “Encounters on Destroyed Bridges”. “We need to  inform the public about what is going on and things are far from perfect. But we, journalists, do not have to be pyromaniacs and fan the flames of hatred”, said Jelena as she received the award.

The jury members emphasised that in divided societies, journalists can do much more to improve inter-ethnic relations. Tamara Skrozza said that “the importance of the awarded stories lies in the fact that they go way beyond daily news reporting and deal with real life which is always much more complex and even beautiful than daily news make it appear to be.”

Empowering Libya’s women and youth through livelihood opportunities

After years of protracted war across the country, Libya’s economic recovery requires significant support and intervention at the national, regional, and local level.

Supporting Community Resilience Through Livelihood Opportunities for Libya’s Women and Youth outlines the impact of the Peaceful Change initiative Livelihood Project, launched in November 2021, targeting six cities in the East, West and South of the country: Tobruq, Ajdabiya, Bani Walid, Obari, Zliten and Sebha, with a focus on:

  • Livelihood training courses to support vocational and professional skills
  • Job fairs bringing together local businesses, employers, trainees, and other relevant authorities
  • Targeted grants to support local entrepreneurs willing to develop or expand their business ideas

The background to the project was a Peaceful Change initiative Assessment, carried out in late 2020, that explored the impact of conflict, displacement and the pandemic – and found that economic recovery and specifically livelihoods, have been increasingly threatened due to economic and political instability. The Assessment highlighted that young men are more incentivised to join a militia and/or radicalisation, as well as get involved in illicit activities, such as trafficking and smuggling, with limited livelihood opportunities. In addition, that conflict and the pandemic had increased the risk of women becoming marginalised – and increased some women’s exposure to higher levels of gender-based violence.

Peaceful Change initiative also conducted a Research Project in 2021, to better understand the impact of the conflict economy, highlighting that while local communities cannot fully insulate themselves from national dynamics, the impact of the local conflict economy can be mitigated through strengthening local cohesion and stability and developing local economic opportunities.

PCi expression of solidarity with Ukrainian peacebuilders

We abhor the violation of peace and territorial integrity in Ukraine and the senseless destruction and loss of life brought by the unjustified military action being perpetrated by the Government of the Russian Federation. We appeal for an immediate cessation of attacks on Ukraine and for the protection of civilians. We are gravely concerned that the war will lead to long-term intractable conflict with great human and environmental costs and express our solidarity with peacebuilders and civil society actors across all parts of Ukraine who are working bravely to maintain the social fabric of their communities and upholding principles of shared humanity.

Since 2016 we have witnessed first-hand the courageous work of peacebuilders who have made heroic attempts to transcend the divides created since 2014 and their patient commitment to peace. The present military action works directly against the declared intent of the Russian leadership to establish brotherly relations with its neighbour and develop a vision for indivisible security in Europe.

The present military action is not only outside of international law, but we firmly believe that it is fundamentally against the interests of the Russian Federation, a permanent member of the United National Security Council with a particular responsibility for maintaining international peace and security and a prime stakeholder and beneficiary of the present system of international security.

We empathise with the calls of our friends and partners inside Ukraine for international assistance and coordinated action to end the violence and aid the people of Ukraine and urge international friends and allies to provide all diplomatic and humanitarian assistance.