KONJIC – The RYCO Local Branch Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the PRO-Future project organized the first regional Peace and Advocacy Camp (#PAC) which gathered sixteen young people from the Western Balkans. Within PAC, the young people learned more about and enhanced their communication, activist, leadership and peace-building skills. This seven-day event targeted active youth from six RYCO Contracting Parties and the PRO-Future (II) local communities and offered different learning and experience opportunities.
“With the Peace and Advocacy Camp, and similar projects, RYCO emphasizes the importance of regional youth mobility, meeting and working together. It is of a great importance when you have activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina where young people from Pristina are present because it seems impossible for them to meet with their peers from BiH because of the visa issues. Also, young people from Albania meeting someone from Serbia for the first time is an amazing situation to observe and take part in,” Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ms Berina Bukva Alibašić underlined.
The camp could not have been as successful without the support of and partnership with the PRO-Future project. Senior Project Officer at the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Ms Edita Čolo Zahirović, on behalf of USAID project PRO-Future, emphasized that youth from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from the region, have never been so eager and motivated to participate in regional projects such as the Peace and Advocacy Camp. She pointed out that RYCO, alongside the PRO-Future project, is actively working on providing these opportunities to the youth.
“These types of projects provide great opportunities for young people from all over the region to meet each other. I have never met someone from Kosovo* or Albania, but during the Peace and Advocacy Camp I have had the opportunity to not just meet youth from these parts of the region, but also to communicate with them and share ideas about the future of our region,” Mr Nikola Vejnović, a participant and student of psychology at the University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasized.
The Peace and Advocacy Camp introduced participants to the concepts of identity, stereotypes, discrimination, conflict resolution, social cohesion and peace activism. It also explored how to practically enhance young people’s involvement and brought new knowledge about social media as a tool for participating in creation of campaigns and initiatives.
RYCO and the PRO-Future project use their internal resources and external associates for different aspects of knowledge and know-how transfer. Aside from learning and actively participating during all seven days, the PAC regional youth group had an opportunity to hear testimonies of war victims from Bosnia and Herzegovina, explore the city of Konjic, visit the Native Museum and Tito’s bunker.
USAID project PRO-Future is RYCO’s credible and relevant partner. This partnership shows the natural necessity of relevant stakeholders cooperating and working on same goals, so that the results of regional cooperation and peacebuilding could be achievable and more visible. On the other hand, the RYCO Local Branch Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina was administratively supported by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the camp’s preparation and realization.
With this project and the inspirational group of 16 young people, RYCO wishes to point out the importance of youth mobility and basic “getting to know each other” aimed at connecting the region and promoting regional cooperation across all the six RYCO Contracting Parties.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.