Libyan society is undergoing significant change as a result of the revolution/conflict in 2011, bringing substantial opportunities for a more inclusive political system and more accountable security services. At the same time, the revolution/conflict has weakened relationships between some communities in Libya, as well as exposing longer-term inter-communal conflicts. As such, successful transition depends on a comprehensive peacebuilding approach that helps communities to share perspectives, overcome grievances and map out a common future. PCI and AFAQ Libya have developed a policy brief that outlines an agenda for such an approach in Libya.
PCi is providing support to community peace resources – those individuals and organisations involved in local initiatives to prevent, manage and resolve conflict. The first task of this work was to map such peace resources; this was done in March 2014. PCi captured learning from this research and outlined an agenda for supporting the development and strengthening of community-level resources for peace in Syria.
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.”
This policy briefing, reflects on the present situation in the east of Ukraine as experienced by the populations on both sides of the line of contact in the east – in the NGCA of LNR and DNR, and with areas under government control. The paper seeks to contextualise these differing experiences and offers a set of recommendations, with the aim of proposing a peacebuilding agenda for local and international organisations.
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.
- Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), Mitrovica
- Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG)
- Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCBP)
- Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Balkans (CisBalk)
- Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT), Gracanica
- Centre for Regionalism
- Civic Initiatives
- Democracy Plus (D+)
- Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society (BFPE)
- Igor Novaković, Analyst, Belgrade
- Institute for Territorial Economic Development (InTER)
- Institute for European Affairs (IEA)
- Institute for Serbian and Albanian Coexistence
- Jelena Lončar, Academic, University of Belgrade
- Kosovo Center for Security Studi (KCSS)
- Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
- Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
- Milan Antonijević, Lawyer
- New Social initiative (NSI), Mitrovica
- Peer Educators Network (PEN), Prishtinë
- Rahim Salihi, civil society activist, Bujanovac.
- Radio KIM Media Group
- The Balkan Forum
- Valon Arifi, civil society activist
- Vjollca Krasniqi, Academic, University of Pristina
- Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
- Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia
- Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo
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
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.”
The Peacemakers Network, a group of individuals from Libyan civil society, local government, media and academia, who work to find solutions to promote sustainable peace (supported by PCi) worked on a video campaign at the end of 2021, to improve public awareness of electoral process in Libya. Elections were scheduled for the 24 December 2021 but have been postponed.
The Peacemakers Network distributed four videos across a broad range of Libyan media and social media and a fifth video will be released shortly focusing on the process of candidate selection. Click on the links below to view the videos:
For more on the Peacemakers Network, click here.
PCi works to amplify local voices, especially those of marginalised groups, in support of equitable development. We worked with our partners Aktiv, Civic Initiatives and Peer Educators Network to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo are better aware of – and able to advocate for – municipal services to which they are entitled.
In response to COVID-19, PCi worked with Aktiv to create a ‘Rapid Response Crisis Group’ (RRCG) to ensure that non-majority communities in Kosovo were receiving equitable access to information that sought to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In this first of the video stories which will be produced by all three partners, Aktiv sheds more light on the efforts of the RRCG to ensure equitable access to information. Click here for the film with English subtitles
The Peacemakers Network, a group of individuals from Libyan civil society, local government, media and academia, who work to find solutions to promote sustainable peace (supported by PCi) have collaborated with The Agency For Peacebuilding (www.peaceagency.org) and produced an article commenting on Libya’s postponed elections, that were scheduled for December 24 2021. This was published by Huffington Post Italia on December 24, 2021 which can be read in Italian here.
Click here to read an edited English version of the article on the Agency For Peacebuilding website; an extract is outlined below:
“Members of the Peacemakers Network truly believe that holding an election is the only way to save Libya, get it out of its current crisis, and put an end to the state of division. And they are not the only ones. The elections will pull the rug out from under all parallel bodies created since 2011, as well as those who want to impose their views and control the country, including the many actors are standing in the way of realizing the Libyan people’s aspirations and desire to build a civic and democratic state.
There are, indeed, high expectations for the anticipated elections, which many Libyans see as a historic and pivotal event that shall end the conflict, and it would be a mistake to think that these expectations can simply be ignored. Past and recent events have, in fact, left the country’s three historic regions and various ethnic groups (Arabs, Tebu, Amazigh, and Tuareg) dissatisfied with the current situation. Each group is a volcano on the verge of erupting as a result of what it perceives as marginalization and an attempt to control its rights.
Elections are therefore important to stability and peace, and in order for them to be rescheduled shortly, Libyan actors and the international community must commit to and support its results and endorse what the Libyan people vote for in the ballots boxes.”
For more on the Peacemakers Network, click here.