Young people have great potential to contribute to the process of dealing with the past in post-conflict societies such as the former Yugoslavia. Since 2011 the Tribunal has sought to tap into this potential by reaching out to high school and university students. Outreach and legal staff travelled to their classrooms and lecture halls to speak about crimes that took place in their communities during the 1990s and the ICTY’s role in punishing those responsible.
The project has reached over 8,000 young people in the former Yugoslavia ”
as of June 2015
Today’s students grew up after the end of the conflicts and so were not affected by the violence in the same devastating way as their elders. Through this project, the Outreach team set out to harness their ability to step away from the past and to view it more objectively. Their presentations have encouraged young people to scrutinize anything presented as fact, challenge conventional wisdom, and develop their own opinions about the conflicts and the Tribunal’s work.
Although the project identified gaps in knowledge and understanding of why the Tribunal was established, its work and its judgements, it also challenged the widely-held assumption that young people are uninterested in the conflicts and in issues of transitional justice. Alongside a formidable need for information, there exists much appetite for discussion about the rule of law and its impact on reconciliation and the future of the region in general.
Students throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro have participated in the project. Presentations took place in some of the communities most affected by the wars of the 1990s, including Srebrenica, Foča, Prijedor, Mostar, Vukovar, Zadar, Petrinja, Kačanik and Djakovica/Gjakovë.
The Youth Outreach project is still ongoing. Since its launch in December 2011, it has reached over 8,000 young people in the former Yugoslavia.