Youth initiative for human rights

Youth Initiative for Human Rights - Serbia


The aim of this program is to build new generations who will, through their actions — civil activism or through work in institutions — influence the change in the relations of their respective states toward the recent war past.

Through education of the young and their empowerment to take an active role in solving problems of the local communities, the Initiative works on creating the capacities for the new generations to lead different politics toward the victims of war, stop the politics of denial of crimes and impunity.

The focus of the Transitional Justice program is the education on the obligation of states toward the victims following conflicts and/or periods of dictatorship, education on facts established in courts, support for the arrest and processing of those responsible for war crimes, education on out-of-court mechanisms for establishing the truth and creating the conditions for war crimes and human rights violations not to be repeated..

New Policy School

The New Policy School (hereinafter NPS) is intended for young activists of political parties and non-governmental organizations, students and journalists. The teachers at the school are eminent professors from Serbia and the region, human rights activists, ambassadors, as well as experts of different profiles.

The six-month school is divided into three modules:

1) Human Rights

2) Transitional Justice

3) European Integrations

The NPS takes place in Belgrade, Nis and Novi Sad. Aside from the three-hour long lectures, the students attend seminars on strategies of public advocacy, academic writing and writing policy papers. In order to graduate, the students are required to write a policy paper on one of the topics discussed during school.

The Regional Internship Program

Within the regional program, the young who have graduated from, or are at the final year of political/social science studies, attend internship for five months at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague, and afterwards three months at the Council or the Office of War Crimes Prosecutor in Belgrade.

The purpose of the Regional Internship Program (RIP) is to strengthen the rule of law in Serbia through the implementation of the practice of the ICTY in domestic judicial bodies, to strengthen the capacities of the domestic judiciary for war crimes and improve the transfer of knowledge and experience of the ICTY in domestic courts through the volunteer work of young, educated lawyers.

The aim of the RIP is building the competence of young lawyers to work on cases of violations of international humanitarian law. They will work on transferring their knowledge and direct experience obtained through working in the ICTY into the courts in Serbia.

The Program in Presevo and Bujanovac

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights has an office in Presevo, and a part of its activities is aimed at integrating young Albanians into the social and political system in Serbia.

The activities in Presevo and Bujanovac are aimed at bulding the capacities of the civil society in these municipalities for active participation in solving local problems and overseeing activities of the local authorities. In order to mitigate the isolation of these municipalities from the rest of Serbia, the Initiative has organized a program of cultural exchange, within which the artists from Serbia and the region present their work in Presevo and Bujanovac.

The young from these municipalities have the opportunity of internship in the Belgrade office where, aside from learning Serbian and English languages, they also develop skills for teamwork, organizing events and campaigns. The interns have the opportunity to find out more on topics such as human rights and transitional justice.

The Initiative also organizes visits by journalists from these municipalities to Belgrade, during which they can make their own agenda and visit the organizations and institutions of interest for their work. For most of them, this is the first visit to the capital of the country they live in.

Seminars on Facing the Past

What took place during the wars on the territory of former Yugoslavia during the last decade of the twentieth century? How does one face the heritage of the war past? How can the victims of war vest their right to truth and justice? What is transitional justice?

The Initiative organizes seminars on facing the recent war past for students of the final year of highschool and first year of University on the whole territory of Serbia.

In seminars organized in different towns in Serbia, the young can obtain basic information on the recent war past on the territory of former Yugoslavia, as well as the mechanisms of transitional justice.

The main goal of the seminar is for the young to become active citizens who understand why it is important for the country and the society to face the heritage of the past and, if they wish, to be included in the existing initiatives which deal with transitional justice.

The Regional Exchange Program

The Initiative's first program was the Visiting Program, which started in 2003 as a program for the exchange of the young from Serbia and Kosovo, with the aim of tearing down the “wall“ between the Kosovo and Serbain societies, and in order to enable the young to see the actual situation and social changes in Serbai and Kosovo through the direct experience of living in Pristina/Belgrade.

More than a thousand young people, students, activists, journalists and professionals from various fields have gone through the Visiting Program, and for all of them it was the first time they saw Belgrade, Pristina and later Sarajevo.

The young created their own agenda for their three-day stay, which included meetings with professionals in different fields, visits to institutions, political parties, universities, various organizations, museums, media houses...

Based on the success of the Visiting Program, the Regional Exchange Program should soon become a wider regional program, which will, aside from Kosovo and Serbia, also include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia. The regional program also changes through public advocacy for establishing funds within various state institutions, which would help the regional exchange of the young, and which would cover the various aim groups of young participants of these exchanges on various levels.