Author: Camille Thirot

Advocating for women’s inclusion in higher education in Jakharra

SPP members in a meeting with Jaber Mayloud, the dean of the Oil and Gas Department at the faculty

Jakharra is a small town in eastern Libya where social and gender norms are rather restrictive towards the role of women in the public sphere. Since its inception in 2017, the Jakharra Social Peace Partnership is committed to expanding women’s inclusion both within the partnership itself and in the wider community, despite the challenging environment in which it operates. Because of its commitment to women’s inclusion, PCi selected the partnership to pilot a Gender and Security workshop in February 2023.

The aim of the Gender and Security workshop is to bridge the gap between men and women’s understandings of security. The workshop has a particular focus on encouraging men to reflect on how they can contribute to enhancing women’s security. A recent assessment, conducted by PCi, provided useful insights on the ways in which women and men’s notions and experiences of ‘security’ differ. The assessment also highlighted that men are often unaware of the range of security challenges faced by women daily.

Gender and Security workshop: understanding challenges around security

The workshop in Jakharra brought together a range of members from the Social Peace Partnership. They included local CSOs, the Municipal Women’s Empowerment Office (WEO) and the local Higher Education College and Faculty of Energy’s student union. Both women and men attended the workshop. First working as separate groups, then together, they exchanged on perceptions, experiences, and the challenges they face around security.

A key finding was that women in Jakharra face significant obstacles in accessing higher education opportunities. Most women in Jakharra do not pursue further studies after their high school degree. The closest university college considered as ‘appropriate’ or ‘suitable’ for women to attend is in the town of Jalu, 40km away. The geographic distance prevents most women from attending because they are not willing, or not allowed, to commute alone due to security risks and prevailing social norms.

SPP members during Security workshop in February 2023
SPP members during Security workshop in February 2023

To date, young women have not been able to enrol in the only higher education institution based in Jakharra, the Faculty of Energy. This is due to a combination of factors, including security risks as well as perceptions and concerns from female students and their families about attending a male-dominated and mixed environment. Also, engineering has not traditionally been a field in which women are encouraged to study or pursue a career.

Finding solutions to encourage women’s inclusion in higher education

Following the workshop, the partnership collaborated with the Faculty of Energy and the Municipality to facilitate a series of meetings to identify steps to take to encourage female enrolment. The SPP also met with department heads at the faculty, most welcomed the idea of women’s inclusion, because having more teachers and supported plans to expand the university. The partnership then proposed an initiative to enrol female students and convinced the dean to move forward with the project. They also engaged with parents of female students in Jakharra to advocate for their daughters’ higher education and address their concerns.

“We learned from the training that finding like-minded allies in the institution is an important step, as well as building a consensus by developing a case for the project that shows how every stakeholder – and how society as a whole – benefits from furthering women’s education.”

– Salheen Awam, Head of the Jakharra Social Peace Partnership

On 13 August 2023, the Faculty of Energy published a joint statement by its president, Abdulmalek Hamed, and the Jakharra Social Peace Partnership Head, Salheen Awam, announcing that female students could start the enrolment process by March 2024. The faculty is currently building and equipping new study halls dedicated to female students.

The importance of integrating gender in community-level peacebuilding

While still in its initial phase, this project makes clear the importance of integrating gender into community-level peacebuilding and of doing so in ways that are sensitive and responsive to the local context. The Jakharra partnership has successfully advocated for social change and for greater women’s inclusion in higher education. Collaborating with both men and women has also proven effective at shifting attitudes and turning the role of men from gatekeepers to allies.

PCi will continue to monitor this project, particularly after the start of the enrolment period in March 2024. We will also capture any learning that can help Social Peace Partnerships across Libya put in place similar initiatives.

SPP members in a meeting with Jaber Mayloud, the dean of the Oil and Gas Department at the faculty
SPP members in a meeting with Jaber Mayloud, the dean of the Oil and Gas Department at the faculty

These activities are part of the project ‘Social Peace and Local Development’, funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Integrating gender across all aspects of programming is a core focus of this project. In collaboration with Social Peace Partnerships, we implement a range of gender-focused initiatives. These include providing women with meaningful participation and leadership opportunities within SPP projects and collaborating with men as allies to create a safer environment for women’s inclusion and participation.

The mutual benefits of academic partnerships between Serbia and Kosovo

front cover of the academic fellowship booklet

Peaceful Change initiative (PCi) – through the UK government funded project Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development (ALVED) – has focused on enhancing cooperation between scholars and researchers in Kosovo and Serbia on contemporary social, political, and economic topics. This initiative emphasizes the importance of academic partnerships and exchanges in knowledge production, collaborative research, and fostering mutual understanding, particularly in the context of peacebuilding.

The first phase of cooperation resulted in a comprehensive piece of research into the state of civil society in Kosovo and Serbia, undertaken jointly by the Universities of Pristina and Belgrade, entitled ‘The Landscape of Cross-Community Initiatives in Kosovo and South Serbia’. This research examines the state of civil society, the place of informal civic activism, and patterns of and prospects for cross-community initiatives in Kosovo and south Serbia, looking at the structure constraints and enabling factors behind the observed phenomena.

To consolidate such cooperation, PCi supported an academic fellowships program involving academic staff and PhD students from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Prishtina, and the Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade. Academics were provided with stipends to support their individual research endeavours, whilst simultaneously integrating them into the faculties of the host institutions. The resulting research projects cover diverse topics such as gender and diversity, political representation, religion and identity, university reform, and civil society.

This fellowship resulted in the following research projects, further details about which are available by clicking here.

  1. Dr. Vjollca Krasniqi explored the engagement of universities in Southeast Europe with public issues, emphasizing the ‘third mission’ of universities regarding teaching, knowledge production, and social responsibility. The study investigated how universities respond to socio-economic challenges in order to identify best practices for community collaboration and knowledge co-creation.
  2. Dr. Jelena Lončar focused on gender-sensitive reforms in the Kosovo parliament. The research analyzed the processes and effects of gender-sensitive reforms, exploring critical actors, points of resistance, and incentives for change. The study contributes to the understanding of gender-sensitive parliamentary practices, especially in post-conflict societies like Kosovo.
  3. Dr. Nađa Bobičić compared leftist perspectives in Kosovo and Serbia from a feminist and queer standpoint by delving into how gender studies researchers and feminists define the ‘left’. The research also explored the praxis of civil society organizations, particularly in relation to care work, queer issues, and intergenerational feminism.
  4. Dr. Stefan Surlić examined the role of civil society organizations in Kosovo, particularly those representing the Serb community. The study argued that these organizations contribute to genuine citizen integration by promoting policies benefiting minority groups, whilst highlighting the challenges and resistance faced by civil society organizations in their efforts to engage with the Prishtina authorities.
  5. Lirije Palushi addressed gender and higher education in Kosovo and Serbia, investigating the representation of women academics. The study explored challenges women face in academia, examining qualitative and quantitative data to identify similarities and differences in the two societies.
  6. Dr. Marko Veković explored the intersection of religion and politics in post-conflict Kosovo, investigating how religious institutions and values influence politics and society, addressing questions about the impact of religion on political attitudes and preferences. The study combined survey data and interviews with clergy members to provide a comprehensive understanding of the role of religion in post-conflict Kosovo.

The latest iteration of cooperation focused on ensuring the respective universities are equipped with the skills and knowledge to thrive in a changing academic world. Through a collaboration with University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, academics from Belgrade and Pristina shared perspectives on a multitude of topics pertaining to knowledge production and management, with a view to strengthening their administrative structures to better equip them to confront the challenges facing academia in the contemporary age.

These various dimensions of partnership serve as a model for other forms of academic partnerships and collaborative research, especially in contexts where pre-existing relationships have been ruptured by war and issues arising from status disputes. By normalizing such forms of cooperation, the respective Universities are creating a precedent for other academic actors to establish partnerships that benefit not only individual researchers, but their respective institutions more broadly. Contemporary academia is grounded upon partnership and collaboration, without which institutions cannot compete for students and funding. Academia cannot exist in isolation.  

Open event: media partnerships as a catalyst for peacebuilding

Watch a recording of our online panel discussion on how international support help independent media achieve a greater impact on democratisation, inter-communal relationships and peacebuilding.

Peaceful Change initiative hosted a virtual discussion to present our latest case study: Strengthening media as a stakeholder in peacebuilding, showcasing our experience in fostering collaboration among media organizations in Kosovo.

The study – conducted as part of the Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development (ALVED) project, funded by the UK government – offers insights into the role of international support in enhancing the impact of independent media on democratization, inter-communal relationships, and peacebuilding.

The presentation explored the rational for pursuing media partnerships, with respect to reducing segmentation of the media space, overcoming resource limitations, providing alternative approaches to content generation, and understanding shared audience interests. It also explored the evolution of partnerships, a reflection on the shared interests of the respective partners, the challenges of forging integrated partnerships, and an understanding of the shortcomings of such approaches.

A subsequent discussion analysed whether media partnerships are a viable means of supporting the development of independent media in the Western Balkans, and how they can better complement existing initiatives in this area. The discussion also focused on how such partnerships be harnessed to tackle more sensitive and contentious issues, especially where cross-community issues are concerned.

The case study, which delves deeper into these findings, is available for download from the following link: Strengthening media as a stakeholder in peacebuilding.

Date & Time: Jan 30, 2024 10:00 AM (GMT)

Location: Zoom meeting

Introduction by Richard Le Vay, Head of Internal Politics and Communications, UK Embassy in Kosovo.


  • Ian Bancroft, Project Manager for the Western Balkans, Peaceful Change initiative
  • Darko Dimitrijević, Radio Goraždevac
  • Luljeta Gjonbalaj, USAID
  • Ariana Caka, EU Office

Moderated by Nenad Sebek, Senior Adviser for the Western Balkans, Peaceful Change initiative

For further enquiries, please contact Ian Bancroft – If you would like to receive email updates about our upcoming publications in the Learning from peacebuilding in Kosovo and Serbia series, please sign up to our mailing list on this link.

Principles of working towards normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia

Peaceful Change initiative hereby presents a set of principles on working towards the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, developed and endorsed by a range of civil society organisations. These principles constitute a commitment to explore joint approaches that go beyond the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to contribute to sustainable peace in Kosovo, Serbia, and the entire Western Balkans.

These principles are designed to enhance the contribution of civil society to normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. In the spirit of fully-fledged normalisation, we the undersigned undertake to:

  1. Broaden debate about the normalisation of relations beyond the EU-facilitated dialogue to incorporate issues that, if left unattended, will negatively impact future relations, including transitional justice, education, and people-to-people cooperation.
  2. Develop consultative mechanisms to ensure joint statements are prepared through broad consultation, including with the affected communities, to ensure they are based on complete, timely, and accurate information. Such a process will examine elements such as:
    • Motivation – why is a particular statement being issued at this juncture?
    • Framing – how is the motivation for a statement presented to the audience in question?
    • Content – which areas have the statement failed to take into consideration, especially where minority communities are concerned?
    • Language – does the use of particular words or terminology needlessly antagonize relations between communities?
  3. Maintain open channels of communication – including with central and local institutions – to provide perspectives from different communities, including consultative briefings on specific issues, thereby enhancing the quality of debates about issues related to the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
  4. Present human-centred perspectives on the impacts of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, both positive and negative, with a focus on the unintended or unforeseen consequences of implementation on daily life.
  5. React to issues of common concern about civil society in Kosovo and Serbia (such as SLAPPs, media targeting, GONGOs, and donor funding etc.), to create a more conducive environment for civic engagement.
  6. Engage in joint and coordinated advocacy vis-à-vis central and local governments, plus the international community, to promote tangible steps that could contribute to the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
  7. Jointly commend and criticise steps taken by central and local governments, plus the international community, that impact positively or negatively the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
  8. Adopt positions that encourage our communities to take proactive steps that contribute to normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, especially where questions of integration and cooperation are concerned.
  9. Pursue initiatives to uphold the rights of the most vulnerable members of society, regardless of which community they belong to, including reacting to instances of hate speech that negatively impact inter-community relations such as the denial of war crimes, glorification of war criminals, and ethnic slurs.
  10. Raise the visibility of civil society’s contribution to the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia by promoting one another’s initiatives, in particular positive stories of cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

Each of these commitments is underpinned by a human rights-based principle that we will act based on what is right, not because we expect or demand a reciprocal response from others. In addition, we acknowledge the risks that civil society actors take when speaking out in public and will continue to be attentive to the context in which civil society operates.

Endorsed by:

  1. Aktiv
  2. Artpolis – Art and Community Center
  3. Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP)
  4. Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT)
  5. Community Building Mitrovica
  6. Foundation Heartefact Fund
  7. Institute for Public Research (IJI)
  8. Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS)
  9. Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
  10. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  11. Local Peace
  12. Livrit
  13. Musine Kokalari Institute for Social Policies
  14. Naš Svet, Naša Pravila (‘Our World, Our Rules’), Vranje
  15. New Social Initiative (NSI)
  16. Professor Vjollca Krasniqi, University of Prishtina
  17. Rahim Salihi, Civil Society Activist, Bujanovac
  18. Reconciliation Empowering Communities (REC), Mitrovica
  19. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  20. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia
  21. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo

Peaceful Change initiative – as part of the UK government funded project, Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development (ALVED) – has been regularly convening civic actors from Kosovo and Serbia to improve the environment for normalisation. For further information, please contact Ian Bancroft (

How Social Peace Partnerships responded to the Storm Daniel emergency 

SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, unloading aid trucks sent from west Libya.

In the aftermath of Storm Daniel, Social Peace Partnerships across Libya quickly mobilised to respond to the unprecedented emergency in eastern Libya.

Above: SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, unloading aid trucks sent from west Libya.

As the world grapples with the impact of the climate breakdown, countries with weak infrastructure, failed governance and limited climate change preparedness such as Libya are particularly vulnerable to its consequences. On September 10 2023, Storm Daniel – a rare tropical Mediterranean storm – hit eastern Libya. Cities across the region witnessed torrential rain and high-speed winds. Due to poor drainage and water management systems, heavy flooding led to substantial damage of infrastructure, particularly the destruction of the poorly maintained dams and irrigation systems.

The city of Derna bore the brunt of the damage and experienced the most disastrous consequences when two dams collapsed, causing devastating flooding downstream and wiping out entire neighbourhoods. At the time of writing this article, about 5,000 people were confirmed to have died, while around 10,000 were still missing and about 30,000 were displaced.     

While the response from both governments was slow, Libyan citizens and civil society organisations across the country immediately mobilised to provide emergency support and aid to communities in the affected areas. The eastern Regional Hub and many Social Peace Partnerships (SPPs) across the country responded promptly by collecting donations, sending aid, coordinating psychosocial support initiatives, resettling internally displaced persons (IDPs) within host communities, and reconnecting orphaned children with their extended families. This tragedy was deeply felt by Libyans as a moment of national unity and the spontaneous response from civil society and ordinary citizens provided a positive narrative of solidarity and reconciliation. 

Members of Nalut SPP loading trucks with aid to send to victims of the floods in Derna.
Above: Members of Nalut SPP loading trucks with aid to send to victims of the floods in Derna.

Social Peace Partnerships quickly responded to eastern Libya’s Storm Daniel emergency

The Derna SPP, located at the epicentre of the disaster, was one of the first SPPs to respond by contributing to efforts to recover bodies of victims, and facilitating access to areas that were inaccessible by clearing roads and access points. The SPP has also been working voluntarily with security forces and local organisations outside the city to coordinate access and facilitate the distribution of aid into Derna to those communities that are most vulnerable. This coordinated response highlights the value and utility of the SPPs, which work as crisis management and coordination mechanisms, providing support to vulnerable communities and mobilising responses in partnership with civil society organisations, relief agencies and government authorities.

The SPP in Sahel, another area impacted by the floods, also intervened in the aftermath of Storm Daniel. Abdulsalam Alsakta, a member of the Sahel SPP, recounted the challenge they faced: 

The municipality of Sahel stretches across 160km with 18 local communities located along the coast, which has made the response efforts particularly difficult. There have been 50 victims in our municipality and this number will rise. 260 families in Bayda have been displaced due to the damage to their homes from the floods, and another 42 homes in Hamama were completely destroyed. From day one, the SPP created an emergency room and have been working across Al-Sahel to address emerging health issues and provide support to the displaced, but the situation is dire and our resources are limited.

The SPPs in cities surrounding Derna also rushed to help, both through the delivery of aid and through the provision of logistical support to displaced families. The initiatives delivered by SPPs across the region, which saw them mobilise their own members and networks to provide relief support to those affected by storm Daniel, highlight the ability and confidence of the SPPs to work beyond their Municipality borders and cooperate regionally with other SPPs and partners.  

Strom Daniel response shows Social Peace Partnerships play a crucial role at community and regional levels

The countrywide response to the flooding due to Storm Daniel is a testament to the crucial role that Social Peace partnerships play, underlining the ability of the SPPs to overcome geographical and political divisions and resource constraints in order to help those most in need. The existing infrastructure of the SPPs, their substantial experience in crisis management, their networks and relationships with governmental and non-government institutions, and their ongoing efforts to create partnerships regionally and nationally have contributed to a lifesaving, coordinated response.

From the interventions implemented by the SPPs, it is important to highlight that the SPPs mobilised support independently of Peaceful Change initiative, which is a testament to their growing confidence and autonomy as critical peacebuilding, crisis management and governance support structures that can sustain and resource their work with limited international input, delivering initiatives that have made tangible contributions to relief efforts. 

SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, by the sea in Derna looking for bodies of civilians that were swiped by Storm Daniel.
Above: SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, by the sea in Derna looking for bodies of civilians that were swiped.

Integrating climate security analysis into Social Peace Partnership initiatives

In Libya, the impact of climate change is heightened by the absence of a unified government and by fragile state institutions, which translate into a lack of accountability to implement climate adaptation measures; climate pressures also act as an accelerator of conflict, fuelling community tensions and more competition over natural resources. For this reason, we are working to integrate climate security analysis into our programming, with a particular focus on how climate security interacts with gender, peace and conflict dynamics.

We are exploring how SPPs can better integrate climate security analysis into the design of their social peace initiatives across Libya. We believe SPPs can play an instrumental role in sensitising local communities on the risks and threats of climate change, and want to support them to advocate for improving climate change preparedness, including by championing a greater role for women, young people, and marginalised communities in decision making on resource management and climate adaptation.

Renewing commitments to the cause of peace

renewing commitments to peace

Civil society organisations in Kosovo and Serbia reiterated their commitment to actively working towards the normalisation of relations throughout the entire region. They call for the building of ties in accordance with the terms and spirit of Article 6 of the recent roadmap on normalisation, through which the parties have agreed to deepen cooperation in a variety of areas.

The violent event of 24th September has had a profound effect on relations within and between Kosovo and Serbia, at a time when they had already been spiralling downwards. 

Divisive narratives – emanating from within politics, the media, and elsewhere – are fuelling tensions, especially between the very communities that endure the burden of conflict. 

Feelings of insecurity pervade communities in very distinct and profound ways. All are contending with the consequences as opposed to the causes of the crisis. Memories of the past are being recalled through the realities of the present. 

The costs of the crisis are more manifest than ever. Many are reported to have left already – or are planning to leave – not just from north Kosovo, but from across the region. 

In such a context, it is more important than ever that we endeavour to understand how different communities are experiencing the rapidly changing context in their daily lives. This is both to mitigate the negative impacts and to salvage the positives that persist, whilst restoring trust and building confidence. 

No development is possible when people feel insecure or uncertain about the future; when there are doubts and hesitations about what will happen tomorrow. We need to build firm foundations on which a prosperous future can be constructed. Whilst there will be doubts and hesitations about the futility of such a course, we firmly believe that there are few alternatives.           

In such moments, we feel it is imperative to reiterate our commitment to peace and to building a better future. We are dedicated to making Kosovo and Serbia the best possible places to live, especially for future generations.    

Armed resolution of conflicts must not be an alternative to dialogue, no matter how long it might take. We must listen to one another and develop joint initiatives to transform our society.

It is vital that people stand together to confront conflict-generating narratives whilst opening – and themselves remaining open to – new channels of communication and new sources of information. Regardless of the challenges and setbacks, we remain committed to this course.

We are civil society actors committed to actively working to normalise relations throughout the entire region. We call on authorities at all levels to support steps to build ties and cooperation within and between the people of Kosovo and Serbia, in accordance with the terms and spirit of the recent roadmap on normalisation – especially Article 6, through which the parties have agreed to deepen future cooperation in a variety of areas. We condemn all conflict-generating language, especially when it is targeted at those dedicated to building stronger ties between Serbia and Kosovo.

We undertake to do whatever is possible to restore trust – in each other, in our own institutions, and in our international partners.  We are committed to creating a better environment, a broader space, in which inter-communal relations can be enhanced for the benefit of all people in Serbia and Kosovo.


  1. Aktiv
  2. Artpolis 
  3. Centre for Peace and Tolerance
  4. Community Building Mitrovica
  5. Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society (BFPE)
  6. Foundation Heartefact Fund, Belgrade
  7. Gorazdevac Media Group
  8. Institute for Public Research – IJI, Gracanica
  9. Kosovo Law Institute
  10. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  11. Local Peace
  12. Livrit Creative Center
  13. New Perspektiva, Kosovo
  14. New Social Initiative (NSI), North Mitrovica
  15. Peer Educators Network – Pristina
  16. Rahim Salihi, Civil Society Activist, Bujanovac
  17. Vjollca Krasniqi, University of Prishtina
  18. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians in Kosovo
  19. Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Kosovo
  20. Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia

Peaceful Change initiative – as part of the UK government funded project, Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development (ALVED) – has been regularly convening civic actors from Kosovo and Serbia to improve the environment for normalisation. For further information, please contact Ian Bancroft (

Youth perspectives on peace in south Serbia

Civil society organisations from Serbia have come together to issue a joint call on authorities and the international community to take steps to ensure greater participation of young people in the decision-making processes and peacebuilding activities in accordance with the principles of UN Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.

The statement also reflects upon the ten-year anniversary of the Seven-Point Plan for the Integration of Albanians and underlines the importance of incorporating the youth perspectives to fulfil the plan’s commitments.

Engaging youth in south Serbia

We the undersigned hereby call for greater steps to ensure youth participation in decision making and peacebuilding process in south Serbia, in-line with the spirit and principles of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security.

The demographic crisis that impacts communities throughout Serbia and the Western Balkans is first and foremost a question of young people; of those deciding to leave their homes because they don’t see any viable future. To understand the causes of – and potential solutions to – this problem, young people must be heard.

Ten years on from the Seven Point Plan pertaining to the Albanian community in south Serbia, we firmly believe that it is time to incorporate youth voices to ensure the realisation of its commitments. All communities are affected by the failure to resolve issues pertaining to integration.

Many of the areas covered by the plan affect young people, particularly those pertaining to economic recovery; education, culture, and media; and security and confidence-building measures.

Whilst we welcome recent efforts to rejuvenate the plan and its implementation, we feel that progress can be accelerated by listening to the views and visions of young people regarding the resolution of outstanding issues in south Serbia.

With respect to the economy, for instance, high rates of youth unemployment continue to drive people to seek opportunities elsewhere; a problem which is further compounded by a lack of progress on diploma recognition. Any plan to revitalise the economy of south Serbia must have young people at its heart.

The inherent energy and creativity of youth mean they are an unavoidable element of any advancement in the spheres of education, culture, and media. Language remains a key obstacle to integration, and we will endeavour to work through formal and informal education structures to find sustainable solutions.

Experiences here and elsewhere demonstrate that young people possess the requisite courage and bravery to confront legacies from the past and build confidence for the benefit of the future. By standing up to hate speech and divisive rhetoric, we are committed to reducing tensions where they may surface and challenging the ways different communities speak about one another. Whether through sports, arts, culture, or other means, we will explore ways to bring together young people from different communities. There are already many positive examples that we will celebrate and share.

With the Coordination Body for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja now under new leadership, we believe that this is an important moment to embrace new approaches to resolving the challenges facing all communities in south Serbia.

We also welcome the newly-composed Albanian National Council (ANC), and hope that its mandate will be used to explicitly advance the interests of young people in south Serbia; not only with respect to the Seven Point Plan, but in the domains of culture, education, information, and official use of language and script. We call on all political actors to engage constructively with the ANC and its leadership.

Finally, we call for the international community, especially the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to actively consult with youth activists and civil society representing youth to ensure that their needs and concerns are mainstreamed into deliberations about south Serbia.

For too long young people in south Serbia have been spoken about, but rarely spoken to. We know from firsthand experience the challenges facing young people, and we stand ready to propose solutions to ensure that as many as possible choose to remain in south Serbia and build a vibrant home for themselves and their families.


  1. Urduženje mladih “Naš svet, naša pravila”
  2. Udruženje “Livrit”
  3. Udruženje “Beyond”
  4. Udruženje “Budi aktivan 16”
  5. Građanske inicijative
  6. Inicijativa mladih za ljudska prava Srbija
  7. Udruženje “Erudita”
  9. Udruženje Romkinja Bujanovac
  10. Udruženje “The Future”
  11. Omladinski centar za promene
  12. Info Wiki
  13. Agreenment
  14. Qendra B

Building a more inclusive peace: women’s inclusion and leadership

participants during a dialogue session organised by the Tripoli Centre SPP
Above: participants during a dialogue session organised by the Tripoli Centre SPP

A key part of our work in Libya focuses on ensuring women’s inclusion and leadership in peacebuilding and decision-making. To achieve this goal, we address structural and practical barriers, as well as physical risks, that limit women’s meaningful participation in building and sustaining peace.

While women in Libya play a fundamental role in building and maintaining social peace and cohesion, this role is often performed in informal settings. For example, through lobbying male family members, accessing neighbourhoods that are considered off-limits for men, or using their community management role to help dialogue between families or different communities. For instance, the decision of a woman not to seek revenge for the killing of her husband by members of another community group prevented a violent escalation that would have likely led to more killings and further conflict. 

But despite the diverse perspectives and unique contributions they can bring, women continue to face systemic exclusion from taking part in and leading efforts to improve social cohesion, inclusion, and security in their communities. When women’s voices are missing from peace efforts, their specific needs are often neglected, and we miss out on the perspectives and networks that they can bring to peace efforts. We are working alongside Social Peace Partnerships across Libya to change this.

Social Peace Partnerships (SPPs) bring together a diverse group of local people, with a shared vision of Libya becoming a safe and inclusive country. Members include representatives from the local authority, civil society leaders, elders, community leaders, business owners and anyone who is interested in peacebuilding. PCi builds the skills of the SPP members through various trainings so they can solve community issues and develop an ongoing response mechanism to community conflict. PCi also helps to build positive relationships between the community and the local authorities. 

Since 2013, Peaceful Change initiative has been supporting community-level peacebuilding initiatives, through our Social Peace and Local Development programme, in over 40 Libyan municipalities. A core element of this work has been supporting women’s inclusion in peacebuilding efforts, ensuring women’s perspectives and needs are better reflected in decision-making, and understanding how different gendered experiences of conflict impact peacebuilding.  

Working with Social Peace Partnerships to advance women’s inclusion and leadership in peace efforts 

Since the start of this programme, Social Peace Partnerships have made great strides in advancing women’s representation, participation, leadership and visibility in peace efforts. Women are now represented in all Social Peace Partnerships, where they make up 39% of members on average, and women now play an active role in the regular planning and implementation of activities. In some Social Peace Partnerships, women were also elected to leadership roles such as Chairperson positions. 

Social Peace Partnerships across Libya have created an environment which fosters women’s leadership skills, from peacebuilding to crisis management, local development, and governance. Women have successfully conceptualised, designed, and implemented initiatives funded by Peaceful Change initiative which address women’s perspectives and needs.  

Women’s leadership and contributions to projects implemented by Social Peace Partnerships have been crucial in gaining wider acceptance among male peers of the need for greater women’s participation. Within many Social Peace Partnerships, women’s leadership in the design and implementation of projects is now considered key to making initiatives more effective and sustainable. For example, some women-led initiatives have been endorsed by local authorities through long-term funding. The success of these initiatives has played a significant role in positively shifting views on women’s participation. 

Similarly, many male members recognise that projects implemented with active female members are often delivered more efficiently and on time. Some of these projects have become self-sustainable through income generation and have gone on to support other initiatives run by women for women.

Above: awareness-raising seminars around peaceful co-existence and citizenship rights in Tobruk

Shifting perceptions around women’s role in peacebuilding and decision-making 

To shift social views around the role of women in peacebuilding and decision-making, Social Peace Partnerships work to amplify the voices and stories of women leaders in peace and social initiatives. This is key to ensuring that a diverse range of women can be models in their own communities and inspire younger and less active women to imagine a different role for themselves.  

For example, Khadija attended a peacebuilding training for women in Ubari which gave her the drive and confidence to set up the Noor Al-Alam Centre, which among other activities delivers psychological support to children affected by conflict. “Attending a workshop on peacebuilding and seeing all those women [from different communities] working together despite our differences motivated me to establish a centre that brings people from the different groups together for trainings and other social initiatives.”  

In areas where social norms are less accepting of women’s presence in the public sphere, Social Peace Partnerships have been able to build trust with key local actors and secure a higher acceptance of women’s role in peacebuilding and decision-making processes. This is reflected by an increased willingness by many male members to be women’s inclusion advocates and allies. In some cases, Social Peace Partnerships have concretely supported women leaders in their communities, for example through backing their candidacy in local elections. 

Through their continued efforts, Social Peace Partnerships are making an important contribution to shifting the role of women in peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Libya. To learn more about this work, you can read our report which captures our experience and lessons learned from 10 years of integrating gender into our peacebuilding programme in Libya.  

Conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the Libya Storm Daniel response

The consequences of the floods resulting from Storm Daniel on 10 and 11 September pose an urgent and unprecedented humanitarian emergency in communities in the East of Libya. The disaster, moreover, overlays Libya’s complex conflict environment, which will be shaped by this emergency and the response.  Failing to acknowledge this when providing international assistance risks exacerbating tensions, contributing to structural drivers of conflict and overlooking potential opportunities to contribute to sustainable peace.

This note provides a brief overview of conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the international response to Libya Storm Daniel which can be identified at this early stage of the response. It is intended to inform planners and implementers and identifies both issues to be considered as part of a conflict sensitive response and recommendations for potential ways to mitigate these.

The note can be viewed and downloaded in English on the link below:

Download here

For further information, please contact:

Lamis Ben Aiyad
Conflict Sensitivity Advisor
Peaceful Change initiative

Tim Molesworth
Senior Advisor: Conflict Sensitivity and Peace Technology
Peaceful Change initiative

Standing up for diverse points of view and freedom of expression

We the undersigned strongly condemn all acts of intimidation directed towards Sofija Todorović, program director of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia.

We are, in particular, deeply concerned about the graffiti daubed on a building near where Ms. Todorović lives. It is imperative that such matters be urgently investigated by the appropriate authorities. No individual should be subject to threats of physical violence. 

All citizens must be entitled to openly express their views on all matters without fear of reprisals or ramifications. This also applies to the issue of Kosovo’s status.

The normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia can only be achieved through open and sustained dialogue, of which disagreement is a fundamental part.

For over a decade, the respective governments in Kosovo and Serbia have been involved in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, reaching compromises through face-to-face engagement under EU mediation. 

The recent agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is a recommitment to continue talking; to continue finding solutions that can benefit all communities. Whilst there has been a spike in tensions, we firmly believe that only through dialogue can de-escalation be achieved and the foundations for progress put in place.  

Regardless of one’s views on Kosovo’s status, one should be able to express them openly and confidently. Attempts to silence voices such as Ms. Todorović’s must be widely denounced.

Articulating a vision for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia requires voices willing and able to speak truth to power. In the absence of consensus, it is even more vital to create safe spaces where ideas can be proposed and different viewpoints heard.

The stifling of alternative perspectives – especially through tangible threats – will ultimately damage not only relations between Kosovo and Serbia but the evolution of democracy.

We stand in solidarity with Ms. Todorović and remain committed to debating issues that cause tensions within and between Kosovo and Serbia, with a view to finding solutions that can benefit all communities.        


  1. Aktiv
  2. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP)
  3. Center for Democracy and Education – Lugina, Bujanovac
  4. Civic Initiatives
  5. Community Building Mitrovica
  6. Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society (BFPE)
  7. Kosovo Law Institute
  8. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  9. Local Peace
  10. Lugina Lajm Portal – Bujanovac
  11. New Social Initiative
  12. Prof. Vjollca Krasniqi, University of Prishtina
  13. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  14. Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo
  15. Rahim Salihi, civil society activist, Bujanovac
  16. Ramadan Ilazi, Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS)

Peaceful Change initiative – as part of the UK government funded project, Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development (ALVED) – has been regularly convening civic actors from Kosovo and Serbia to improve the environment for normalisation. For further information, please contact Ian Bancroft (