WESTERN BALKANS – Organized within a joint RYCO-UN project supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, RYCO and the UN family gathered 24 young people in a youth co-design team to identify common priorities for peace, reconciliation and security. Through a series of consultations meetings, young people will contribute to a regional youth-led peace research and advocacy. After the online introductory session organized on 26 March, the first online working meeting was organized on Tuesday, 7 April.
Previously planned to be held as physical events, the consultation meetings of the initiative “From Divisive Narratives to Shared Futures” are now taking place online due to the current pandemic of the COVID-19. Tuesday’s meeting discussed principles of conflict analysis and reviewed topics for the survey that will be run as part of the research.
Opening the meeting, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub’s expert on youth and civic engagement Ms Susanna Dakash invited participants to adapt to the new working environment which should not be seen as an obstacle for a fruitful discussion.
“Although this is not an open workshop environment, we want to have an open and frank discussion on peace and security in the Western Balkans,” Ms Dakash underlined.
While discussing the principles of conflict analysis in the session moderated by consultant Mr Marko Prelec, one of the members of the Advisory Group supporting this process Ms Mirishahe Syla pointed out the importance of understanding history.
“It is important to discuss how young people understand the history they are being taught. There are differences in what young people learn and how they understand and interpret the knowledge,” Ms Syla pointed out.
Youth Co-Design Team Member Mr Damjan Jugović shared with the group results from one of the small-group activities: “It is important to shed the light on how connectivity impacts the perceptions of youth in the region and to look at the drivers of peace as seen by different target audiences among general youth and their understanding of region’s potential for peace.”
Supported by five scholars in the realm of Western Balkan studies, through a number of online meetings, the participants will continue their joint work on designing the research and validate its results, as well as co-leading the advocacy elements of the project.
Organized within the project “Supporting the Western Balkan’s Collective Leadership on Reconciliation: Building Capacity and Momentum for RYCO”, the research and advocacy initiative “From Divisive Narratives to Shared Futures” aims to create opportunities for young women and men from diverse backgrounds in the Western Balkans to identify common priorities for peace, reconciliation and security and enter in constructive dialogue with their peers across divides, enhance their confidence in and dialogue with decision-makers and strengthen their capacity to become actors for change.
The project is being implemented in partnership between RYCO, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF with the financial support of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. The project runs from October 2018 to December 2020, across the Western Balkans 6 and aims to build capacities of RYCO, high schools in the region but also of young people, especially hard to reach youth.