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Chaos to Community™™™: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia_Herzegovina_National_Flag_Flag-1001During the early 199os Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced a brutal war--research places the number of people killed at around 100,000–110,000 and the number of people displaced at over 2.2 million,

making it the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War II. Despite the passage of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio on November 21 and formally signed in Paris on December 14, 1995, the region has been wrought with conflict during the past two decades. Annex 4 of the Agreement of the current Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognizing RepublikaSrpska as one of its two main political-territorial divisions and defining the governmental functions and powers of both entities.

2Since the passage of the Dayton Accords that ended the war in the Balkans, the U.S. embassy in Bosnia has been working to build peace in the region, especially focusing on the lingering problem of segregation in Bosnia, most starkly evidenced by the phenomenon of “two schools under one roof.”  CWBI’s President Johnny J. Mack and Chief Program Office, Maneshka Eliatamby carried out nonviolence and peace building programming in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2009 and 2010. The program was carried out at the request of the U.S. State Department in Bosnia and Herzegovina who believed that peace building through a nonviolence approach as espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could have a positive influence in helping Bosnia and Herzegovina overcome its past – and present – struggles with ethnic conflict. The program included workshops on nonviolence and peace building for youth and civil society and meetings with political leaders, religious leaders and non-governmental organizations in Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka and Brcko.

3At the request of its local partner Benevolentia and the US Embassy, CWBI staff will return to Bosnia and Herzegovina in August 2012 to facilitate the School of Nonviolence and Conflict Resolutions that will take place Banja Luka. The goal of this program is to integrate youth representing the different ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing them the opportunity to interact and be trained in peace building and nonviolence. The project aims to revive civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an ethnically divided country, and overcome ethnic tensions by joining young people together and providing them with a chance to appreciate their common interests and supporting their potentials through education and joined activities in a democratic and tolerant environment.