This article discusses the role of non-governmental organizations in promoting peace education, coexistence, reconciliation and dialogue among young people in Vukovar, Croatia. We argue that reconciliation cannot be imposed from above, but must be built, nurtured and sustained from the bottom-up. Much of this work of dialogue building is carried out at the community level by grassroots organizations. We describe the types of civic organizations, the peacebuilding approaches used, as well as the sustainability, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and barriers for youth participation in these organizations. A number of in-depth interviews were conducted with representatives of civic organizations in Vukovar. Moreover, the methodology involved an analysis of programs and activities promoted by the community organizations. Findings illustrate that different strategies and activities are used by community organizations, which involve a relatively small number of participants and which do not have a developmental plan to follow young people after the termination of a project.

Author Bio(s)

Ankica Kosic is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Psychology, University of Rome “La Sapienza”. In the period 2006 - 2008 she was a Senior Marie Curie Research Fellow at the European Research Centre, Kingston University, U.K. In previous years she worked as a Research Fellow at the European University Institute, Italy, where she was involved in a number of large scale research projects. Her research concerns the issues of immigrant integration, inter-group relationships, stereotypes and prejudice, and the process of reconciliation in post-conflict societies. Email: anna.kosic@uniroma1.it; anna.kosic@gmail.com

Sean Byrne is Professor and founding Director of the doctoral program in peace and conflict studies, and founding executive director of the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba. He has published in the areas of third party intervention, ethnic conflict analysis and resolution, and children and conflict. He is a co-recipient of research grants from the USIP and SSHRC to explore the role of economic assistance in building the peace dividend in Northern Ireland. Email: Sean_Byrne@umanitoba.ca


community relations, dialogue, non-governmental organizations, peacebuilding, peace education, reconciliation, Vukovar (Croatia), young persons

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