The Importance of Dialogue for Conflict Resolution
Our Western Balkans member, Nansen Dialogue Centre Serbia organised a round table: "The Importance of Dialogue for Conflict Resolution – From Local Communities to International Relations." This was followed by a launch event of the 2016 Peace Calendar on 17 December 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia.
The speakers discussed the importance of dialogue as a conflict prevention and peacebuilding tool from different angles and presented GPPAC's publication: Creating Spaces for Dialogue: A Role for Civil Society.
The launch of the 2016 Peace Calendar and the presentation of the Regional Arts Competition Peace is IN, Violence is OUT results followed the roundtable. Every year, Nansen Dialogue Centre organises the regional arts competition which is organised for students of primary and secondary schools in the Western Balkan region. The competition was launched on the occasion of the International Day of Peace (21 September) with the following objectives:
- To introduce students to the idea of the International Day of Peace;
- To encourage students to find creative ways in which they as individuals can contribute to peace;
- To encourage a discussion on the importance of each individual's contribution to non-violent conflict resolution and sustainable peace building;
- To contribute to the security of people, tolerance and reconciliation in the Western Balkans
As in previous years, the Peace Calendar was illustrated by students who participated in the competition. Biljana Lajović (the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development) underlined the Ministry's cooperation with NDC Serbia and GPPAC in the field of peace education. She especially highlighted the "Education for Peace – Experiences From Practice handbook" published by NDC Serbia and NDC Montenegro as useful peace education tool.
Maja Vitas Majstorović (NDC Serbia PR and communications coordinator and GPPAC media focal point) presented the Regional Arts Competition results, highlighting the preparation and discussion classes before the actual drawing of illustrations as the most valuable outcome of the activity. In 2015 over 2000 artworks by primary and secondary school students from the Western Balkans were submitted. The winning artists from Serbia were awarded symbolic prizes. The promotion of the Peace Calendar and the awards ceremony for students in Montenegro will be held on 25 December in Podgorica.
Ivana Gajović, Director of NDC Montenegro and GPPAC contact person in the Western Balkans presented the publication Creating Spaces for Dialogue: A Role for Civil Society and GPPAC's global working group on dialogue and mediation. She highlighted the necessity for the engagement of all local actors in reconciliation processes after violent and armed conflict on the example of the Maluku Island in Indonesia.
Gesa Bent (GPPAC Foundation – Western Balkans Coordinator and Gender Equality Programme Coordinator) spoke about GPPAC's gender programme and the importance of dialogue in peacebuilding from a gender perspective. She highlighted that women's mediation skills and expertise are an untapped resource which needs to be used in conflict prevention and peacebuilding as women's dialogue potential and mediation skills have been a very valuable peacebuilding resource on the local level.
Steinar Bryn (Nansen Dialogue Network Senior Adviser, Lillehammer, Norway) author of the article "Lessons Learned from Dialogue Work Between Serbs and Albanians in Serbia and Kosovo" said that it was a myth that Serbs and Albanians did not want to talk to each other. He described the dialogue seminars organised for people from former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and how participants from different "sides" began to understand one another during these meetings.
Tatjana Popović, Director of NDC Serbia, moderated the event.
For more information about GPPAC Western Balkans, please click here.
For more information about the Regional Arts Competition, please click here.