News Type: PCi News

Call for cessation of military action on the territory of Armenia

Azerbaijan’s military action against settlements on Armenia’s sovereign territory violates international law and cannot be justified by any of Azerbaijan’s declared statements on provocations, the mining of Azerbaijani’s territory, or ongoing frustrations at the pace of implementation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement. We appeal for an immediate cessation of military action for the protection of civilians and a return to ongoing dialogue formats.

PCi’s peacebuilders and our partners have long-standing relations with civic and political actors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan and have a profound respect for those who have been committed to a peaceful transformation around the parameters of the conflict between the two countries. We have deep empathy with the people of Azerbaijan who experienced considerable suffering and acknowledge outstanding grievances from previous wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We are convinced, however, that a military or force-based resolution to the present situation can only cause harm to the neighbourly relations without which a lasting peace is impossible.

We call on civil society and independent actors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to act in line with principles that look ahead to peaceful relations between the two countries by withholding from rhetoric that supports or justifies military action, by not posting information that has not been verified, and by using ties that have been built over years of working for peace to in the region to verify facts, understand perspectives, and provide moral support to one another.

PCi’s Second Annual Media Award Launched

Press conference, a number of people gathered to watch the launch

In a first-time hybrid event, PCi publicly launched the 2nd annual Media Award for multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia at a press conference which was simultaneously held in Belgrade and in Pristina. Members of the two juries (the award is awarded for media content in both Albanian and Serbian language) and some of last year’s Award winners spoke about the significance of the award.

A Jury member for Serbian language, Jelena Obućina, said that the Award is an excellent incentive for both journalists and media to pay more attention to stories about ordinary life and peaceful coexistence. Her Albanian language colleague, Violeta Oroshi, agreed from Pristina, adding an invitation to journalists to tell the positive stories which do exist, but rarely find their way into media space. 

Filip Švarm, the Editor in chief of the Belgrade weekly VREME, the media which won the first prize last year, said that “in a time which is burdened with dark news, it is so important to show life and cooperation between nations”. 

Ardiana Thaçi, the winner of 1st prize in audiovisual format in Albanian, said that “it is the duty of majority language media to report on the lives of minorities”, as she did in her award-winning piece.  

Through the Media Award, PCi aims to promote and reward media content from Kosovo and Serbia that explores themes related to the co-existence of communities, with the ultimate goal to contribute to the narrowing of the present divisive narratives.

The call for entries is open for stories published between January 1st and December the 31st 2022 and the first prize in both categories (audio/visual and written format) is € 2,000 Euro. For detailed information about how to apply, please click on the Terms of Reference below, available in English, Serbian, and Albanian languages.

To apply, please click on the following link: https://forms.gle/3XWBbGFMMJqBtiw47.

The application deadline is 31st December 2022

Press conference, a number of people gathered to watch the launch

PCi’s Media Award in Kosovo and Serbia: Call for applications is open

Award Ceremony Media Award 2021 Serbia

Peaceful Change initiative is delighted to announce that for the second year running, we are inviting journalists, editors, media representatives, and others, to share with us their stories on multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia. The original idea for the Award came as a result of a series of Media Consultation Dialogues which have brought together well over a hundred most relevant journalists, editors and media experts from both Kosovo and Serbia to discuss how to improve the media scene, especially when reporting about each other’s communities.

For the year 2022, PCi has doubled the first prize in both categories (audio/visual and written format) to € 2,000 Euro and looks forward to receiving even more entries this year. We have every reason to believe that this will become a traditional annual award.

The call for entries is open until December the 31st 2022 and the entries will be evaluated by a professional jury which will select the winning stories and media outlets, since the winners in both categories also win an award for the media where they were originally published.

For detailed information about how to apply, please click on the Terms of Reference below, available in English, Serbian and Albanian languages.

Stories published between the 1st of January 2022 and the 31st of December 2022 are eligible for the Media Award. To apply, please click on the following link: https://forms.gle/3XWBbGFMMJqBtiw47.

The application deadline is 31st December 2022

Award Ceremony Media Award 2021 Serbia

Public Statement on the war and dialogue from Ukrainian mediators

PCi endorses statement of Ukrainian mediation and dialogue practitioners on the application of dialogue during Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Thirteen Ukraine organisations with experience and expertise in the areas of mediation and dialogue have issued a joint statement to bring the attention of international donors and programming organisations to key aspects of the present context for the application of dialogue and peacebuilding approaches. The statement has been supported by a further 14 dialogue and mediation organisations.

The organisations preparing the statement express their appreciation of the unprecedented support directed towards Ukraine and propose seven points to be taken into consideration with respect to developing appropriate peacebuilding and dialogue approaches in the country at this time:

  1. The armed aggression in Russia must be understood in its full context, including as a violation of the very cornerstones of the post-World War II world order.
  2. Political-level (Track One) negotiations between the warring parties should continue on peace and humanitarian issues and formats may be considered for the involvement of civil society in such processes.
  3. Dialogue between citizens of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus during active hostilities is not appropriate to the current phase of the conflict, no matter the location of the talks, and does not reflect ‘do-no-harm’ principles.
  4. Dialogue and dialogue approaches can and should be used as a tool to strengthen resilience, social cohesion and unity within Ukrainian society, and these should be supported even during the hot phase of the conflict. Similarly dialogue between the civil society of Ukraine and international counterparts should be encouraged.
  5. Support is needed to citizens of Russia and Belarus who are opposing their own authoritarian regimes and the aggression in Ukraine.
  6. It is essential that peace and dialogue methodologies introduced into Ukraine be adapted to take into account the specificities of Ukraine and are respectful of the approaches and tools that Ukrainians have prepared for their own practice since 2014.
  7. Ukrainian mediation and dialogue experts have highly developed capacities and are currently ready to (i) invest their efforts into development of the conditions under which it will be possible to convene dialogue at the civil society level; (ii) study and adapt available conceptual approaches and formats of dialogues; and (iii) initiate the development of methodologies and approaches to the design of prospective dialogue processes.

PCi endorses in full the points presented by Ukraine’s mediation and dialogue community and encourages all international peace actors looking to make a contribution in Ukraine at this time to acquaint themselves with the full statement and the reasoning behind the principle points, which are well laid out. Furthermore, PCi encourages peace actors in Ukraine to contribute to the dissemination of the statement which is available in both English and Ukrainian.

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

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.

Signatories:

  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

Chair:

  • 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 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.

Founding member of the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership becomes first woman in Libya to hold the position of Mukhtar al-Mahalla (Head of Locality)

Sumaya Abushagour, a civil society activist and founding member of the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership (established in 2017) became passionate about working with marginalised groups (such as women, youth and people living with disability), when employed by the Ministry of Education and the Tripoli Centre Municipality, Social Affairs Unit. As a member of the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership, Sumaya further developed her valuable network of contacts – and benefitted from the mentoring and skills training provided in Social Peace and Local Development (with support from PCi) that added to her experience and encouraged her to continue to support women, youth and people living with disability in the community. She was recently appointed to the position of Mukhtar al Mahalla (Head of Locality) in the Omar al-Mukhtar neighbourhood within Tripoli Centre; she is the first woman in Libya to be appointed to this position.

Through the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership, Sumaya works to raise awareness in the community, to shift social perceptions about women’s abilities and contributions in society. In Libya, social norms and perceptions around gender roles are a key barrier to women’s empowerment and women are often excluded from livelihood and economic regeneration projects. Specifically, Sumaya arranged vocational trainings in sewing, cooking, and nursing for over sixty women across Tripoli; she also mentored young women who aspire to leadership positions in the community. An inspirational role model, Sumaya said: “Through the Social Peace Partnership, I have spoken to many young women in Tripoli who expressed their dream of being appointed to a leadership position – but they don’t know how to go about this and are often very afraid of how society will perceive them.”

Sumaya Abushagor presenting to participants during a
workshop with the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership

Abdul Salam Ben Saoud, is the Tripoli Social Peace Partnership coordinator, working closely with the Municipal Council. He says that Sumaya has the vision and skills to be appointed Mukhtar al Mahalla (Head of Locality), noting her track record in delivering vocational training to women – and the production of a plan to repair and revive one of Tripoli’s busiest commercial streets damaged by the conflict.

Sumaya is currently working to deliver vocational trainings for women and youth, involving a collaboration between the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership and the Omar al-Mukhtar neighbourhood. Sumaya said: “Youth unemployment and the financial dependence of women on men are two main challenges faced by our community. It is important that we give youth and women the space to find their talents and be able to earn an income, use their time wisely, and be good role models for future generations, as we work on breaking stereotypes and building a peaceful and prosperous Libya with equal chances for all! We are also working on activities for people with disabilities, as they too have a crucial role in our society and deserve to be represented.”

Sumaya is also working with the local Municipality to identify community priorities. There is an urgent need to repair the power station that provides electricity to her neighbourhood, recently damaged by heavy rain and flooding. She has sent her report to the Ministry of Electricity and the Tripoli Municipal Council, with whom she has good working relationships. The Mayor of Tripoli Centre, Ibrahim Al-Khalifi (interviewed by Alhadath TV1), recently commented on Sumaya’s appointment to Head of Locality: “Sumaya is hardworking, competent and an educated woman who meets the requirements for Head of Locality; she also obtained one of the highest grades in the relevant exam.”

For more on the Libya Social Peace and Local Development (SPLD) programme, click here.

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In Libya, PCi supports women’s inclusion through four pillars:

 Leadership

  • Provide space and opportunities for women to strengthen and practice leadership skills
  • Fund and support women-led initiatives
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing, peer support and mentoring of young women

 Participation

  • Ensure women feel confident and safe to speak freely and participate meaningfully
  • Work with men to behave as allies and advocate for women’s inclusion
  • Ensure women’s interests and needs are considered in decision making

Representation

  • Ensure at least 30 per cent female membership in Social Peace Partnerships and gender-balanced participation across programme activities
  • Include representatives of women’s diverse social groups
  • Support female representatives through training and coaching

Visibility  

  • Support communication strategies and media campaigns that amplify the voices of women leaders
  • Facilitate networking among women leaders in different regions and sectors
  • Support role models with diverse social backgrounds