Region: Kosovo

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 (

Partnerships with purpose: media in Kosovo and Serbia

Two media professionals talking

A two year series of Media Consultation Dialogues (MCD) convened by Peaceful Change initiative (PCi) identified several areas of common need in the media spaces of Kosovo and Serbia. Profound and fundamental challenges like the difficult financial environment and lack of resources cannot be addressed overnight. There are, however, steps doable immediately to make existing resources go further and to equip media with the requisite skills for the contemporary media environment.

These include:

  1. Partnership-driven approaches
  2. Building trust through self-regulation
  3. Developing new capabilities
  4. Speaking with a common voice

A partnership-driven approach

The reality facing media outlets in Kosovo, Serbia, and elsewhere in the Western Balkans necessitates a partnership-driven approach that dilutes some of fundamental challenges they face in terms of limited resources. Cooperation between journalists and media outlets in Kosovo and Serbia is, however, not a common practice. Aside from sporadic contacts (typically at media-focused events), there is no systematic approach to building mutually beneficial and sustained partnerships.

The purpose of such partnerships is threefold, namely to:

  1. Broaden coverage – more issues covered;
  2. Deepen coverage – more perspectives and sources incorporated;
  3. Extending reach – more platforms over a wider geographical and first-language area reproducing the content.

There are various models and strategies for how such partnerships can be pursued. It could involve the exchanges of audio, video or written materials or staff, or it could be the joint production or sharing of content. Whilst there are positive examples of such partnership, they are often ad hoc and dependent upon personal ties between media editors/management. They also tend to focus upon political developments as opposed to human-centred stories.[1]

To illustrate how such partnerships could be structured, consider the following:

  1. Sharing of content, especially video/audio material and photographs;
  2. Joint productions, especially for complex multimedia feature stories;
  3. Information exchanges, especially in crisis situations;
  4. Joint fact checking of data and stories.

There are several other areas in which such systematic cooperation can be developed, including but not limited to:

  1. Exchanges and/or hosting of journalists;
  2. Fellowships – similar to writers in residence programmes;
  3. Internship and job shadowing programs for journalists;
  4. Joint efforts to identify ‘fake news” and external influences (Disinformation Alert System).

Building trust through self-regulation

The print (and some online portals) media in Kosovo and Serbia fall under the auspices of the Press Councils, which are self-regulatory bodies working under ethical codes and professional guidelines grounded in EU standards. The Press Councils of Serbia and Kosovo are both incorporated into the European Press Councils’ Associations, but they do not cooperate directly. Given the issues pertaining to hate speech and prejudicial reporting in Kosovo and Serbia, systematic co-operation between the two could have a transformative effect on relations.

Such co-operation could include:

  1. Periodic meetings to learn about each other’s work and context;
  2. Provision of materials such as ethnical codes in Serbian and Albanian;
  3. Exchange of know-how, experiences and resources;
  4. Establishing a Joint Complaints Committee meetings regarding violation of the codes. It would be  hosted by the Serbian Press Council if the violation is in the Serbian media and vice versa;
  5. Joint reactions and public support, particularly where complaints have been upheld, thereby building trust in the process;
  6. Joint events for journalists targeting hate speech, disinformation etc..

Developing new capabilities

The media environment is rapidly changing. There are emerging threats, particularly with respect to disinformation, but also novel opportunities. Contemporary journalism arguably requires new skills, particularly those pertaining to OSINT, social media, and data analytics. The possibilities for professional development are, however, limited. Journalists lack the time and resources to build strengthen their capacities, whilst media outlets are limited in their ability to invest in human capital.   

To remain relevant in a contemporary age, journalists and media outlets must create user friendly resources – grounded in lived experience – which can help guide their peers in their day-to-day jobs. Such resources would ideally be developed in conjunction with the respective journalistic associations and academic institutions.  

There are also generational gaps which need to be bridged. Whilst older generations of journalists were trained in a different context, where there was arguably a greater awareness of and familiarity with questions of ethno-national diversity, younger generations of journalists have grown up in a somewhat different context. This latter group, however, is more attune with other forms of diversity and new trends in the media. By providing opportunities for networking and other forms of collaboration, journalists from various backgrounds can enhance their understanding of and enjoy greater access to a particular community.

Speaking with a common voice

Almost every single professional media in both Serbia and Kosovo is struggling to survive. Due to shrinking sums and changing donor priorities, many professional media are registered as Civil Society Organisations to improve their eligibility. Other professional media have opened their own NGOs which can apply for funding. Calls for proposals tend to be extremely complicated, often to the extent that small media lack the capacity to apply or fulfil the requirements.

Raising awareness within the donor community about such issues will require that media in Kosovo, Serbia and the Western Balkans engage in joint advocacy. By speaking with a common voice, media outlets can send a powerful and constructive message about their specific needs. Such advocacy would also focus on the means of dispersal, including how to get beyond the classic intermediary model that means that much funding doesn’t go directly to the beneficiaries.  

Such joint advocacy would also reinforce the importance of media freedom conditionality on the road to EU accession. It would focus upon questions of financial and ownership transparency within the media scenes of Kosovo and Serbia, whilst underscoring the importance of the safety of journalists and their ability to operate in a context free from political interference.  Furthermore, it would underscore the vital role the media plays in underpinning democracy and the rule of law. By drawing attention to specific issues, a free media is an essential part of accountability and transparency, whilst relaying the concerns and needs of citizens.


All the ideas contained within this paper were generated during the Media Consultation Dialogues conducted by PCi, plus subsequent consultations with particular participants. The purpose of this paper is to stimulate further discussion about the approaches contained within, with PCi on hand to facilitate the development of specific proposals.

For further enquiries, please contact    

[1] In every one of the eight MCDs, the lack of such stories has popped up as something sorely missing from the media in both Kosovo and Serbia. Based on ideas launched in the MCDs, PCi introduced a special award for such media content and gave an annual award for two consecutive years. 

Women in media report: Serbia and Kosovo

Cover image women in media report

PCi’s Western Balkans project “Amplifying local voices for equitable development” – ALVED, hosted a series of Media Consultation Dialogues which brought together media professionals from Serbia and Kosovo to discuss and reflect on challenges and opportunities to improve the media scene, reduce divisive narratives, and increase cooperation between journalists and media across the ethnic divide. The Dialogues included topics such as the work of media regulatory bodies; the importance of local media; independent media sustainability; what are the roots and causes of divisive narratives and why is there a lack of empathy for “the other”.

One of the Media Consultation Dialogues focused on “Women in the Newsroom” and looked at the positioning of women in media and the level of (in)equality with their male colleagues and the ways this affects the way that women are represented in the media. A comprehensive questionnaire was sent out to close to a thousand media professionals in both Kosovo and Serbia and PCi is proud to present the results of this study together with a set of recommendations on how these worrying findings can be addressed.

In 2023 it is utterly unacceptable to find out that one in three women working in Serbian media and one in four in Kosovar media have been victims of sexual harassment. Or that around close to 30% of women working in Kosovar and Serbian media have been discriminated due to their age or appearance. The fact that seven out of ten women are considering changing jobs and professions is certainly not a result of a satisfactory status of women in Kosovar and Serbian media.

The comprehensive Report Survey can be accessed below:

Serbia report in Serbian language

Serbia report in Albanian language

Serbia report in English language

Kosovo report in Albanian language

Kosovo report in Serbian language

Kosovo report in English language

Promoting Youth, Peace, and Security in south Serbia

Peaceful Change initiative (PCi) convened civil society organisations and activists from south Serbia in Belgrade to introduce them to UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS), and design approaches of relevance to young people from their own local communities.

The participants included representatives of BeYond from Bujanovac, Be Active and Livrit from Preševo, and Naš Svet, Naša Pravila from Vranje, plus activists from each municipality. PCi has been working with these organisations to establish a network in south Serbia that can further the specific interests of young people. This includes with respect to the seven-point plan for the integration of the Albanian community, which contains several dimensions of relevance to young people, including economic recovery; education, culture, and media; and security and confidence-building measures.

Workshop day one in Belgrade

The workshop began with reflections on engaging with young people in various communities in Serbia, including sentiments amongst young people and the extent to which their work is understood at the local level. This was followed by an introduction to the YPS agenda, focusing on its five key pillars – participation, protection, prevention, partnerships, and disengagement and reintegration.

The second day laid out a series of practical tools for peacebuilding, such as how to undertake a conflict mapping process and conduct a Positions Interests Needs analysis. This was followed by a discussion on how to advocate for peacebuilding and the YPS agenda, employing messages and terminology that resonate with young people not typically exposed to such discussions.

Workshop day two in Belgrade

The workshop concluded with the design of tangible peacebuilding approaches, tailored to the specific challenges facing young people in south Serbia. This predominantly revolved around the Seven Point Plan pertaining to the integration of the Albanian community, and advocacy to promote a stronger role for young people in the articulation and realisation of solutions.

PCi’s work in the YPS domain builds upon valuable experiences garnered in Armenia, in conjunction with an Armenian NGO, the Youth Cooperation Center of Dilijan (YCCD), testing approaches to promoting youth participation in decision-making and peacebuilding, underpinned by UNSCR 2250 calls to include youth in local, national, and international institutions.

The participants will deliver similar YPS-focused trainings within their own communities, thereby strengthening the capacity of young people to actively participate at the local level to raise awareness about specific challenges facing youth and to develop solutions to a range of problems. These young people will also be linked to regional and international structures dealing with YPS, thereby allowing them to exchange best pratices.

During their time in Belgrade, the participants also met with representatives from the Serbian Government’s Coordination Body for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, where they had the opportunity to provide perspectives on the needs and concerns of young people in south Serbia. With the Coordination Body recently appointing new leadership, this was a timely opportunity to present the first hand perspectives of youth.

Moving—bottom-up—beyond the crisis in Kosovo

That was then: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg (right), meeting the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, at NATO headquarters in Brussels last August

Civil-society-led dialogue will be key if disinformation is to be rebutted and trust is to be rebuilt.

Writing for Social Europe, Ian Bancroft – PCi’s Project Manager for the Western Balkans – explores the key role civil society can play to help rebuild trust, combat disinformation, and normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia. This article was originally published on 5th July 2023.

the North Atlantic Treaty Organization secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg (right), meeting the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss relations with Kosovo.
That was then: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg (right), meeting the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, at NATO headquarters in Brussels last August, noted that the situation had improved on the ground (NATO, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Assaults on KFor peacekeepers in north Kosovo in late May, which were followed by a grenade attack on the police station in north Mitrovica and other explosions late last month, constitute the most serious violence in the area since 2011. That episode set in motion a diplomatic process culminating in the 2013 Brussels agreement, a landmark of recent European diplomacy. The situation in Kosovo however remains volatile and, without compromise on key issues, there is a very real prospect of repeated clashes.

Tensions have been brewing for a year and a half, particularly following Pristina’s decision to deploy heavily armed ‘special operations units’ to the north. Accumulated grievances over various issues, including illegal land expropriations and vehicle licence plates, led Serbs to withdraw last autumn from Kosovo institutions in the north—including the police, judiciary and local government.

This has constituted the biggest setback to integration in over a decade. Despite considerable diplomatic pressure, Kosovo’s prime minister, Albin Kurti, has resisted calls to establish the Association/Community of Serb-majority Municipalities signalled in 2013, widely viewed as a prerequisite for further progress.

The long-term cause of peace is being severely affected by such episodes, which are breeding mistrust and antagonism. For the sake of normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia—a process which should have been reinforced by the roadmap and implementation annex agreed between the two under European Union facilitation in February—civil society must urgently consider how it can contribute to de-escalating tensions and pursue confidence-building measures that can rebuild trust.

Constructive dialogue

In such times of crisis, civil society has a key role in confronting rumours and disinformation, which can further destabilise and inflame the situation. Without pushback against—or clarification of—certain claims, they are left to fester and poison the public space, as ‘social media’ amplify the flurry of speculation, reducing the scope for constructive dialogue. Such responses need to be timely and co-ordinated to limit the damage caused.  

An effective mechanism is also needed to document in an objective and trusted manner the human-rights violations reported, especially in north Kosovo and south Serbia—where respectively Serb and ethnic-Albanian minorities predominate—plus remedial measures to address the complaints. Claims and counterclaims are otherwise presented without a process to verify the incident in question.

Such a mechanism can only enjoy the trust of all citizens if it reflects the broad spectrum of communities in Kosovo and Serbia, ensuring that documented cases are communicated beyond those directly affected. In doing so, it can provide a basis for joint advocacy targeting domestic institutions and the international community, raising awareness about otherwise neglected issues.     

It is imperative too that civil society helps foster and sustain a culture of dialogue within and between communities in Kosovo and Serbia. Misunderstandings and misconceptions about specific events, acts or issues only serve to fuel grievances, particularly within communities that feel their voice is ignored or distorted. By offering broader perspectives on local sentiments, civil society can help catalyse the formulation of coherent responses.

Not merely governments

Sustainable solutions can only be reached through a dialogue that involves all elements of society, not merely the respective governments. Already various organisations from Kosovo and Serbia regularly propose constructive ideas on how to transcend the current cycle of crises. Their efforts are vital to demonstrate that a different future is possible.

The stances such actors take, however, are often deeply unpopular within their own communities, where they can face threats and intimidation for, in particular, criticising their own political leaderships. There is therefore a need for civil society in Kosovo and Serbia to publicly stand in solidarity with those willing to voice their ideas for a better tomorrow. Furthermore, such proposals are rarely heard by other communities because of how information stays in silos. Civic actors need to build networks of communication which help amplify messages within and between communities, to ensure that these are heard by as wide and diverse an audience as possible. 

Civil society can also help move beyond crisis-management. Article six of the agreement on the path to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia supports the deepening of ‘future cooperation’ in a range of fields, including the economy, religion, environmental protection and missing persons. Civil society can rise above nationalistic discourses and engage in potentially contentious conversations, particularly where status-related issues are concerned.

This article, in particular, will come to define the extent to which relations between Serbia and Kosovo flourish in the future. Articulating where such co-operation should be developed is not a task for political elites alone. The article encourages a plurality of actors to come forward with their visions for enhancing mutually beneficial ties.

Universal norms

The role of civil society needs to be underpinned by an EU commitment to upholding universal norms—not just rhetorically, but in its approach to transforming conflict in the western Balkans. Civil-society calls for a more meaningful role in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia have however been frowned upon, not only by the two parties but by the EU itself. Their collective preference is for the process to remain closed and largely elite-driven—a preference reinforced by the war in Ukraine, which has only served to embolden narrow approaches justified by Realpolitik.

The EU should provide tangible support to civil-society organisations committed to improving relations between the respective communities by pursuing approaches that emphasise dialogue and collaboration. Rapidly accessible funding mechanisms, underpinned by a clear commitment to peacebuilding, can allow civil society to pursue confidence-building initiatives at short notice, reacting to quickly evolving situations on the ground. Relationships forged in moments of crisis tend to endure during more peaceful times, those bonds of solidarity contributing to trust and mutual understanding.

Civil society must also take the initiative in outlining its own contribution to normalisation—a process that goes well beyond the political dimensions of the dispute. There are areas where dialogue has unforeseen or intended consequences, or where blindspots mean specific problems go unresolved, which civil society can help ameliorate.

Furthermore, ensuring implementation proceeds as intended requires active civil-society monitoring and engagement. Where there is a loss of confidence in those leading the dialogue, including in the facilitator itself, civil society can help through complementary processes that transform relations within and between communities.

Relationships and connections

Ultimately, a grand vision for the future of relations between Kosovo and Serbia will only come from a broad-based movement of civil society representing various constituencies, including those minorities often ignored in such debates. It requires leaving aside the present frictions and thinking more broadly about the relationships and connections they want to see flourish in the coming years and decades. 

The current situation threatens fundamentally to undermine the recent agreement on the path to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia. Failure to act now could see relations deteriorate further and the process of integration unravel to the extent that all the gains from the 2013 agreement, whose tenth anniversary has just passed, are lost. Civil society has a vital role to play—but it needs too to reflect seriously and creatively on how best it can serve the wider public.

On Civil Society in Serbia and Kosovo

Peaceful Change initiative is pleased to announce the launch of research into cross-community initiatives in Kosovo and Serbia, undertaken jointly by the Universities of Pristina and Belgrade as part of the Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development (ALVED) project, supported by the UK government.

Click on the link to download the report: The Landscape of Cross-Community Initiatives in Kosovo and South Serbia

Condemning attacks on academic freedom

demonstration in support of Jelena Lončar, Stefan Surlić, and Marko Veković

Peaceful Change initiative strongly condemns the threats made against academics from the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Belgrade in Serbia.

A group of people demonstrating in front of the University of Belgrade.
Demonstration in support of Jelena Lončar, Stefan Surlić, and Marko Veković. Photo: Twitter/@parun_

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues Jelena Lončar, Stefan Surlić, and Marko Veković, who have demonstrated considerable courage and determination in the face of attempts to brand them as ‘traitors’.

Such intimidation constitutes a fundamental attack on academic freedom. It is imperative that scholars be free to pursue knowledge and explore ideas without fearing for their security or safety. We are encouraged by the outpourings of support and solidarity they have received.

The research each has undertaken has contributed to the body of understanding about relations within and between Kosovo and Serbia. They have fostered vital links that have deepened understanding about the perceptions of different communities, and explored themes that shine a light on some of the contemporary challenges facing Kosovo and Serbia.

It is for these reasons that PCi supported an academic exchange between the Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade, and the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Prishtina, as part of our UK-government funded project, ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’ (ALVED).

Their research is intended to guide and inspire other aspiring academics, who should be free to pursue their academic interests without fear of reprisal. The academic community should be about debate and disagreement, no matter how sensitive the topic, not self-censorship deriving from concerns about what their peers will think.

Where such incidents are not firmly condemned, they are tacitly supported. As such, it is incumbent on all authorities to voice their opposition to such acts and to ensure that they are thoroughly investigated. All perpetrators should be brought to justice.

We will continue to support all those who seek to improve understanding between those in Kosovo and Serbia, for the future of our communities depends upon deepening our knowledge about one another.

PCi Media Award: celebrating the power of positive journalism

Participants of the Media Award, Pristina

PCi’s second Media Award shines a light on positive stories of multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia.

Peaceful Change initiative celebrated the winners of the second ‘Media Award for stories on multi-ethnic coexistence in Kosovo and Serbia’ in a ceremony which took place simultaneously in Pristina and Belgrade on 16th March 2023.  

Nowadays, the news is almost always associated with the negative sides of life, particularly these past years of pandemic, and now war in Europe. Through this award, Peaceful Change initiative aims to promote and reward media content from Kosovo and Serbia which emphasise the positive, particularly when it comes to depicting the reality of multi-ethnic co-existence of communities. Ultimately, the goal is to contribute to the narrowing of the present divisive narratives in the media in Kosovo and Serbia and encourage the production of more stories centred around the real experience of communities. 

The first prize in the Albanian language written category was awarded to Serbeze Haxhiaj, investigative journalist and news editor for her piece in Balkans Insight. She commented: ‘for me, honestly, it’s not about individual accomplishment or an individual award. It’s about what I’ve got to do and how I can contribute to the peace and reconciliation process in my Kosovo and help to lay down the heavy burden of the painful past’.

Journalist and writer Ilir Gashi is the recipient of the first prize in the Serbian language written category for his piece in Kosovo 2.0. He added: “all of us who work in these scorched fields of no-man’s land, between the long lines of deeply dug tranches, also have the privilege of witnessing life as it grows out of cracks, everywhere.” 

Dr Ismet Hajdari, journalist and member of the Albanian language jury, said: ‘the importance of this project consists in encouraging journalists to deal with topics that are rarely written and reported on. Taboo topics must not exist. The media has an obligation to illuminate all issues that are considered to be of interest to Kosovo society.’ 

When speaking about this year’s entries, Serbian language jury member Milivoje Mihajlović said: ‘the greatest quality is maybe the fact that these stories are so different from mainstream reporting and that from each and every one of the stories you can see the huge desire people have for living a normal, humane life’. 

Ilir Gashi, winner of the first prize at the PCi competition for the best paper (written format) depicting multi-ethnic coexistence in 2022.

Interview transcription: For this article, I received a prize from Peaceful Change initiative. That is an initiative which for several years been implementing a programme in Kosovo and in Serbia. It is a programme which serves to assist a better integration of the Albanian minority in Serbia and the Serbian minority in Kosovo. Within their programme, there is also an award for reporting which brings people together, rather than putting a distance between the nations which is, unfortunately, the dominant discourse both in Kosovo and in Serbia.

This award was organised by Peaceful Change initiative as part of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’ (ALVED) project, support by the United Kingdom Government Fund for Conflict, Stability and Security (CSSF).

Moving from agreement(s) to peace

Civil Society Organisations from Kosovo and Serbia speak out together

Civil society organisations from Kosovo and Serbia speak out together to emphasise the importance of building goodwill and trust in order to make it possible for political agreements to take hold, bring peace and benefit their societies.

The so-called status quo is taking communities on a collision course, deepening divides and entrenching misery.  People don’t know where they stand, nor what they can expect for their societies. The only predictability is frustration and disappointment.

The narrative of coercive diplomacy – that agreement is being forced upon us – only undermines the sense that implementation will happen in good faith. We need to be able to believe that the stakeholders are dedicated to their process for the right reasons. They must stand up for the commitments they enter into on our behalf.

Ambiguity can no longer be constructive. Uncertainty breeds uncertainty. People don’t know how moving to the next stage will affect their everyday tangible needs, including implications for their own jobs and access to services. This is not simply a question of transparency. Decision-makers must be proactive in addressing the legitimate concerns of citizens whilst emphasising the benefits that can and must be grasped.

Any agreement must also be underpinned by specific guarantees. To create certainty in and for the future, steps forward need to be irreversible. We must cease to live in a cycle of integration and disintegration. People must have the confidence to invest in themselves and their careers, and ultimately their communities.

Many people already feel that the system does not work for them. Reforms that address essential needs, including the fight against corruption and developing an effective judicial system, cannot be addressed effectively. Civic voices are not as strong as they should be in public policy, and the possibility to build civic alliances is compromised. Issues of concern to the public are politicised in a way that they cannot be brought up by civil society.

Narratives among politicians and in the media too often emphasise difference and separation. The tangible result is outward migration, further depleting our societies of the very human capital on which we depend. Instead, we want to live in societies that celebrate diversity and see it as a strength. Trust between people is a necessary condition to move beyond the obstacles that our communities have been experiencing for many years.

Whilst integration into the European space will dissolve some of the divisions that we see today, reform must be pursued as an end in itself, not simply as a means to enter the EU. The dialogue is an essential but insufficient part of this journey. It must be supplemented by complementary processes that transform relations within and between communities and lay the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous future. Without this, we risk repeating the mistakes and missed opportunities of the past decade and more.


  1. Aktiv
  2. Centre for Peace and Tolerance (CPT)
  3. Community Building Mitrovica (CBM)
  4. Center for Democracy and Education – Lugina, Bujanovac
  5. Livrit Creative Center, Presevo
  6. Lugina Lajm Portal – Bujanovac
  7. Local Peace, Leposvic
  8. Media Centar, Caglavica
  9. New Social Initiative (NSI)
  10. Radio Peja
  11. Radio Gorazdevac
  12. Radio Astra, Prizren
  13. Professor Vjollca Krasniqi, University of Prishtina
  14. TV Prizreni
  15. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (VoRAE)
  16. Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) – Kosovo
  17. Youth Initative for Human Rights (YIHR) – Serbia

Women’s voices for peace in Serbia and Kosovo

women's voices

On International Women’s Day, civil society from Kosovo and Serbia are united in their calls for more women’s voices to be heard in the normalisation process. The signatories also voiced their concerns about the failure to incorporate gender-specific considerations into the various dialogue agreements and, in particular, the Agreement on the path to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia.

To mark International Women’s Day, this 8th March, we the undersigned call for more women’s voices to be involved in the process of normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 specifically acknowledges the vital role that women play in the promotion of peace. Furthermore, Resolution 1325 also calls for the equal participation of women in peacebuilding processes.

A global study on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 found that the participation of women led to a 20% increase in the possibility of a peace agreement lasting two years, and a 35% increase in the possibility of it lasting fifteen years.

As such, we call for more meaningful participation of women in negotiations pertaining to relations between Belgrade and Pristina. In over a decade of talks pertaining to the Dialogue, very few women have been given an opportunity to engage in the process.

We are also concerned by a failure to incorporate gender-specific considerations into the various dialogue agreements and, in particular, the Agreement on the path to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia. There is a need to better mainstream gender perspectives to ensure that each and every decision within the dialogue process takes into account the specific needs and concerns of women.

Women and women’s groups – whether from civil society, business, politics, academia, or elsewhere – bring particular skills and insights that benefit the overall peacebuilding process. Such voices are also vital for the long-term sustainability of any agreement reached between Serbia and Kosovo.

If women continue to be excluded from the process of normalisation, then it will be to the detriment of both Serbia and Kosovo, and indeed the expressed aims of the European Union and its member states. 


  1. AKTIV
  2. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP)
  3. Center for Peace and Tolerance (CPT)
  4. Community Building Mitrovica (CBM)
  5. Centar for Democracy and Education – Valley
  6. European Fund for the Balkans
  7. European Movement in Serbia
  8. Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society (BFPE)
  9. Human Rights Council – Bujanovac
  10. Dr. Jelena Lončar, Academic
  11. Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS)
  12. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  13. Livrit Presevo
  14. Media Center Caglavica
  15. New Social initiative, Mitrovica (NSI)
  16. New Perspektiva
  17. NGO Be active 16
  18. Peer Educators Network (PEN)
  19. Radio Gorazdevac
  20. Radio Astra
  21. Radio Peja
  22. Rahim Salihi, Civil Society Activist, Bujanovac
  23. TV Prizreni
  24. Valon Arifi, Civil Society Activist
  25. Violeta Haxholli, Kosova Democratic Institute
  26. Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians
  27. Professor Vjollca Krasniqi, University of Prishtina
  28. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS)
  29. Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia (YIHR Serbia)