The past years have seen both, old and new challenges for human rights in the Western Balkan region. The rise of politicians who are focussing on polarizing and radicalizing social and political views, thus putting consensus, community ties and social justice in jeopardy, have led to an increase of civic protest movements in different countries of the region.
Civil society initiatives
Since 2014, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights – Research Association (BIM-FV) has been supporting informal groups and grass-root movements in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main goal of this initiative is to strengthen the citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina to become proactive agents of change, to support civil society in a sustainable way, to guarantee better access to human rights and to foster democracy and the rule of law. Seven selected groups presented their activities and results at the end of September 2017 in Tuzla.
In the framework of the initiative to support Bosnian grass-root initiatives and civic movements, the third follow-up meeting took place on 27 March 2017 in Bosanska Krupa, in the north of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On invitation of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights - Research Association (BIM-FV) and in close cooperation with the Plenum in Bosanska Krupa, the seven groups which are supported by the BIM-FV and like-minded partners (ERSTE Foundation, Swiss Embassy In Sarajevo and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs) gathered to look back and present the results achieved during the last six months. The Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo was represented by Mrs Azra Šarenkapa.
One year after the informal groups and grass-root movements had received financial grants for the implementation of their activities, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights – Research Association (BIM-FV) organised a meeting in cooperation with the Plenum in Zenica. The aim of the meeting was to present the achieved results and to discuss sustainable solutions for the further engagement of the informal groups.
In the framework of the civil society initiative to support informal groups and grass-root movements in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a meeting took place on 25 January 2016 in Banja Luka with the aim to present the first outcomes. The eight selected groups (Plenum Zenica, Citizens’ Movement Gračanica, Plenum Bosanska Krupa, Banja Luka Social Centre BASOC, the Informal Groups for Social Justice Prijedor, the Workers’ Union Sindikat Solidarnosti, the Informal Group Srebrenik belongs to us and the Network 5f7) presented the first outcomes of their engagement during the first implementation period (July to December 2015).
On sunday, 12th Oct. 2014, general elections took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). According to current figures, only 53% of the population went to the polls after a tense and well-known dichotomy and nationalist-ethnic diskurs underpinned campaign. Nationalist-minded parties obtained again the majority of votes. The general athmosphere in the country is rather negative and pessimistic as it is clear for everyone that the inhabiters have nothing to lose anymore. The time of stagnation is expired.
Following the Bosnian mass protests earlier this year, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights initiated a process of support to the Bosnian civil society. In this context the conference “Civil Society as a Factor for Change in Bosnia and Herzegovina” took place from 8th to 10th September 2014 in Vienna. The BIM was commissioned by the Austrian Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, to organise this conference in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and the Karl Renner Institute. As an opening event the Minister invited 30 civil society actors from different regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian diaspora and Austrian and international partners to a reception.
The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM), in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMeiA), has organised a panel discussion on 12th June 2014 on the political and economic situation and the role of civil society in the political process in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) ahead of the October elections: "Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead of the elections 2014: the Civil Society Movement as a factor for Change?"