This and last week, the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme awarded prizes to the winners of essay-writing competitions for high school and university students from the former Yugoslavia. Following the first two successful essay writing competitions held in 2013 and 2014 for high school students in BiH, the Outreach Programme launched a regional competition this year, extending it to university students, in order to engage with a wider audience of young people in the former Yugoslavia.
High school students in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia were asked to share their thoughts on the topic: “How important are war crimes trials for moving forward after times of conflict?”. University students were invited to submit their essays on the topic: “ICTY: War crimes trials as an important element in dealing with the past. A total of 133 young people from across the region sent their entries to the competitions this fall. The jury, composed of representatives from all relevant sections of the Tribunal, was impressed by the exceptional quality and diversity of the essays.
At the award ceremony for the high school competition, the winner, Hamza Ajanić, student at the 2nd Grammar School in Sarajevo, noted that “We can show our maturity only if we make the first step in facing the past and, for that reason, I took part in the ICTY essay writing contest. It is my way of taking action and I hope that our essays will encourage other people to ask themselves what they can do to help normalise relations among people in the former Yugoslavia.”
The second place was awarded to Ajla Memić from the Medical School in Tuzla, BiH, and the third place went to Vivian Bister from the School of Economics and Trade in Čakovec, Croatia.
At the award ceremony for the university competition, the winner, Saša Miličević, student of the Law Faculty of Banja Luka University, said that “Writing this essay was an opportunity for me to further build my attitude towards the ICTY and its contribution to the proper articulation of the traumatic experiences of war… I wish there were more such programmes implemented in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, in particular in BiH, enabling law students to think and write about and discuss ICTY legacy.”
The second place was awarded to Stefan Jeremić from the Law Faculty of Belgrade University, and the third place went to his fellow student Petar Brudar.
The competition is part of the Tribunal’s youth outreach programme, which connects young people from the region with the Tribunal’s work.
As the ICTY nears its closure, the Outreach Programme is strengthening efforts to ensure that young people across the region have access to information and materials about the Tribunal’s work. These initiatives aim to increase understanding of the Tribunal’s legacy among young people and contribute to their long-term interest in transitional justice and post-conflict development.
The Outreach Programme benefits from the continuous support of the European Union and its work with young people is generously supported by the Finnish government.