The Center for Peacebuilding (CIM) is a peacebuilding organisation working for reconciliation among the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They offer a space for inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue that is highly valuable in a country where Croat, Serb, Bosniak and other groups are often segregated. The CIM also looks to support peace processes in other countries around the world. CIM was actually founded in 2004, almost a decade after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. The founders felt that peacebuilding work is essential since the wounds of war have left deep and lasting divisions in Bosnian society, and they felt the need to counter the nationalist propaganda that remains commonplace.
CIM runs an annual Peace Camp, a week-long retreat for individuals from different ethnic groups to discuss taboo topics relating to the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the same time, participants are trained in skills of non-violent conflict resolution. Because CIM believes that true progress requires sustained effort, they have developed a three-year training programme, whereby participants are encouraged to attend two Peace Camps. After this, CIM provides organisational support for participants as they implement training in non-violent communication and conflict resolution and facilitate dialogue for primary school children in their own communities. Participants for the two peace camps in the last two years were about 40 people including: Serbs, Croats, Jews and Bosniaks. Participants came from BiH, Switzerland, Germany, Palestine/Israel and the USA. CIM also arrange monthly lectures and international delegations who come to learn about the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to foster international connections in order to build a mutually supportive network of peacebuilders operating across national boundaries.
CIM organizes Peace Caravans which include a journey through the ethnic deeply divided cities and municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Youth travel around RS and FBiH and are guided to interview strangers to learn their perspectives and about local cultures and history. They interact with veterans, war victims, and leaders of diverse religions. At the same time, the youth organize panel discussions and other programs to motivate people in the host cities to contribute to intergroup acceptance.
International Peace Week
As part of a worldwide movement to celebrate the International Day of Peace (September 21st), we wanted to raise more awareness of the need for peacebuilding and interreligious dialogue activities in our local community, across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and internationally. This goal became reality through the implementation of annual International Peace Week events.
The first Peace Week took place in 2010. Since then it has been a public, week-long event where we concentrate most of the topics that our work focuses on and reach a wide number of people. On average around 300 people have participated in the weeklong programme every year. Participants come from a wide range of backgrounds, including youth, local professionals, disadvantaged groups, local authorities, religious leaders, local and international peacebuilding, and primary school pupils and teachers.
Throughout the week we organize concerts, film screenings, and inter-religious meetings. To further our mission of peace and tolerance, we also host workshops and seminars on topics like peacebuilding, dialogue, and reconciliation.
More details about the 10th International Peace week organized in year 2019 can be found under the link: http://unvocim.net/eng/cims-peace-fest-10th-international-peace-week/
The volunteers of the Center for Peacebuilding participated in numerous projects and activities. They participated in the REgeneracija project, one of the Center for Peacebuilding’s partner organizations. Our volunteers received a grant for the project, and together with the youth from Drvar they participated in workshops and other activities related to the breaking of stereotypes and prejudices. As the final activity of the REgeneracija project, the primer of a documentary filmed in Sanski Most and Drvar was organized. Our volunteers also participated in a project called Una-Sana Connect implemented by ”Udruženje građana Novi Grad.” As part of this project, our volunteers worked with children with developmental difficulties and shared presents for Christmas and the New Year.
In 2018, CIM volunteers participated in a traditional youth festival that has been held for years in the German city of Hamm. The festival is attended by young people from cities that are in friendly relations with Hamm, including Sanski Most. Our volunteers participated in creative workshops for graphite production as well as dance and music workshops. This year, CIM volunteers were given the opportunity to arrange a classroom in the public school “Gymnasium” in Sanski Most with the support of the German foundation “Schuler helfen Leben” and the Municipality of Sanski Most.
As part of “Interreligious Dialogue Days,” our volunteers, together with CIM directors, held a meeting with these high school students and introduced them to the concepts of volunteering and activism.
Our volunteers helped out with the garden at the farm, where we all together sowed various vegetables.
We also had a event called Coffee for Peace, where all Youth from Sanski Most was invited and also most of them joined as new member of the Volunteer Club.
Ideas for future
In addition to its current programmes, CIM has plans for further growth and expansion in the coming years, which primarily center around the development of a Peace Embassy. The Peace Embassy will provide a much-needed secular gathering space for members of the community where tolerance and dialogue will be fostered. Once operational, the Peace Embassy will be a self-sustaining enterprise, housing CIM’s ongoing programs, which will continue to be offered to the community free of charge.