Countries in the Region:
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia
Since the wars of Yugoslav disintegration in the 1990s, a fragile peace has been maintained and a slow process of reconciliation is taking place across the region. Deep divisions between countries and territorial units persist, with different interpretations of history and a number of unresolved issues such as ethnic tensions and nationalist tendencies. Several ethnically mixed areas are still potential hot-spots for tensions and violence. Considerable resources have been invested by international donors in reconciliation programmes across the region; however these have often been scattered and not coordinated in an overall regional approach.
Civil Society: Civil Society in the Western Balkans region has played an important part in the reconciliation efforts. In the field of Peace Education, non-governmental organisations were often the initiators, providers and lobbyists for the inclusion of related topics in regular school curricula. Reflecting the overall field of peacebuilding, CSOs have lacked cross-regional links, in addition to having capacity building needs.
GPPAC Western Balkans regional network
By taking on the role as Regional Initiator and Regional Secretariat for GPPAC in the Western Balkans region in 2004, NDC Serbia could build on the existing Nansen Dialogue Network. By inviting additional CSOs to participate in the regional network, Nansen Dialogue Centres aimed to ensure the participation of organisations active in the peacebuilding field on the local level rather than the larger NGOs. These groups have now been involved as a network for a number of years.
In May 2010, Regional Steering Group members elected NDC Montenegro as GPPAC Western Balkans Regional Secretariat.
Regional thematic priorities: Peace Education, Dialogue and Mediation
Peace Education became the main focus of the regional network in 2006, after which peace educators and Ministry of Education representatives have actively participated in the regional activities and have also joined the Regional Steering Group. The core regional activities were training programmes in conflict transformation techniques for teachers/peace practitioners from multi-ethnic communities.
Awareness raising programmes support ongoing activities through the work of Media Focal Point and by launching the Peace Portal.
Regional PE activities are envisaged to
Enhance teachers and peace educators' capacities to apply Conflict Transformation skills and techniques, including School Mediation as one of the techniques for non-violent conflict resolution in schools;
Strengthen closer collaboration of teachers, peace educators and representatives of ministries of education to support the Whole School Approach in Peace Education implementation and integrate PE programmes in curricula;
Contribute to peaceful schools and peaceful communities in the region.