Reconciliation is a societal process that involves mutual acknowledgment of past suffering and the changing of destructive attitudes and behaviour into constructive relationships toward sustainable peace.(Karen Brounéus, “ Reconciliation –Theory and Practice for Development Cooperation ”, Sida, 2003, p.3)
During the war in Western Balkans, everyone suffered in some way. Someone was killed, tortured, raped, others went from country and were far away from their family. Today, here are we alive, some with or without our family. I was some of those who was separated from family, and I had my story, however, I will never forget how many stories I heard about others surviving in the war. Everything that happened should never happen again. That is something that encourages me and was enough reason to become youth reconciliation ambassador in my country. I want better and more secure future and perspective place for my children.
Past is behind us, there are 20 years behind us, and it is time to move on and to do our best to make sure that war will never happen again. Unfortunately, this is very long process and it takes time to have all data collection regarding war crimes during the war. People have their rights and it is naturally that every single person wants to make sure that war criminals are arrested in order to be secure and in order to move on toward reconciliation. Peace without justice is not worth anything, it is just one symbolic peace.
The main function of justice is assisting peace building process where there is individual responsibility. Theodor Meron, the President of the Hague Tribunal, best articulated this aim in stating that: “the great hope of the tribunal advocates was that the individualization of guilt would help bring about peace and reconciliation” (Sanela Basic, ″Bosnian Society on the Path to Justice, Truth and Reconciliation, Berghof Center)
Reconciliation is something that affect all of us, in everyday life, therefore it is on us to react, responsibility of every single person, regardless what is their religion, nationality or political believes. With reconciliation, we will have more research, data collection and with that arrested war criminals. As fast this process takes, the sooner we will achieve stabilization and perspective future within those countries. In this way, Western Balkans countries, which are still in long transition process will benefit as well.
Through history, we know many countries that wage wars. Today, EU is excellent example showing us that it is possible to reconciliate and to cooperate in future with our neighbors. Being part of stable and peaceful Union brings to all those countries more fairly and stable political and social environment. If we look from economic perspective, Western Balkans could benefit with faster transition process, more business relations with our neighbors that would lead to more perspective future to its citizens.
One step toward reconciliation is taken by three research centres based in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was my pleasure to visit The Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade, were I found that there is really hope and so many resons for reconciliation. There are also RDC in Sarajevo and the Documenta Center in Zagreb that gained experience in advocacy work and have been working on the documentation and remembrance of human rights violations. They started with better cooperation in 2004 and now try to contribute to a shared approach on dealing with past atrocities and violence.
My aim is not to talk what representatives of the government or Parliaments in the near future should do, or what are their responsibilities, because there are much more things that should be done already. I want to talk from the perspective of us, youth. What can we do toward reconciliation? It is on youth to support such initiatives mentioned above, and to constantly think about other mechanisms which will support truth finding in the long run. It is necessary to break the cycle of violence marked by ethnic hatred and to look foreward mutual acceptence and human rights culture. Media has huge influence on our perceptions, youth should never have prejudice befor reliable and researched information. Peer to peer education, presentation or dialogue are great step on micro level to encourage public debate on the diverse mechanisms which will help reconcile conflicting perceptions of the past.
″BiH has not made a clean break with its past. The partition of the country into two basically ethnic-dominated entities has, naturally, not generated a unity of viewpoint concerning the recent past. The existence of multiple truths about what happened allows every ethnic group to claim exclusive ownership of the truth, excluding any dialogue about how the truths might be reconciled with each other. Otherwise, ethnic identities continue to be built on the notions of victims and victimisation. As long as this situation prevails, politicians have a free space in which to play these conceptions against each other, deepening the anger and hatred any time they feel they need it.″ (Sanela Basic, ″Bosnian Society on the Path to Justice, Truth and Reconciliation, Berghof Center)
Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, constituents people in BiH, have three perceptions of truth and history. Children within one country learn from three different history books. We can only imagine how confusing it is, to learn something in school and hear totally different story from our parents. The whole point is that authors of such books should be from all three constituents’ people in BiH. That is the only way to reach multi perspective approach and write only one history (one truth), about which would agree all nationals. That is the most important starting point which will have results in the long run.
Regardless of all thecondemnationfrom somecolleaguesthat Icame across, I will always fight andI will nevergive up onreconciliation within theregion.This is ourfate, reality and future. One thing that encouraged me even more when I came back from Belgrade and study visit is that my university Sarajevo School of Science and Technology has launched a new Master’s Programme in Conflict Analysis and Reconciliation.Studying conflict in a post-conflict setting such as Sarajevo will provide students a first-hand perspective and direct understanding of challenges while discussing and integrating theory, research and practical approaches. This is example of huge step for one institution to provide students critical knowledge and understanding of processes and conditions of various types of intergroup conflicts and related post-conflict processes such as transitional justice and reconciliation.
Bašić, Sanela B.,Bosnian Society on the Path to Justice, Truth and Reconciliation, Berghof Center
Brounéus, Karen B., Reconciliation –Theory and Practice for Development Cooperation , Sida, 2003