In Europe, PAX works with local partners on inter-group dialogue, strengthening local governance, and memorialization. In all programmes, we combine community work with lobby and advocacy. We work in the following countries: Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (with a focus on Srebrenica) and Ukraine. We also have a regional program in the Western Balkans, specifically on Dealing With the Past.
Europe is nowadays easily criticized, and indeed it should do better. For PAX, it is important that we also acknowledge that the EU is a successful peace project. However without sufficient backing by European citizens, the European institutions are bound to fail and the European values will be subject to decay and collapse. We there for advocate for a more citizen-centered Europe.
Programme: Europe as a Peace Project
From 2014 onwards, PAX has been following closely as events unfolded in Ukraine. During two scoping missions, PAX spoke to over 60 interlocutors from civil society, local authorities and administrations, and churches. The network expanded and since 2015 PAX officially started its Ukraine program.
PAX found that the main divide in Ukrainian society is one between ideologies and political cultures, and visions for the future and the way the country is governed and organized, including the active role of civil society herein. The dividing lines run through communities and even families, and do not necessarily correspond to ethnic, linguistic, religious or class divides.
On the basis of these findings, PAX identified several priority directions, which have developed into programmes:
While developing its programming in these main directions, PAX is keenly aware of the wider regional context in which this conflict is developing, and actively taking part in the debate on developments in Russia and the wider region and security implications.
Kosovo and Serbia have been mired in conflict for years. From 1998-1999 an armed conflict was fought between the Serb army and the Kosovo Liberation Army. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, which is disputed by Serbia. The Kosovo government has little say in northern Kosovo, where Serbian influence over the ethnic Serb community is strong.
The prospect of EU membership can help stimulate better relations between Kosovo and Serbia. After earlier negotiations failed, Serbia and Kosovo engaged in talks mediated by the EU in March 2011. Citizens feel excluded from this dialogue. Specifically in northern Kosovo there is resistance against the negotiated agreements. PAX advocates for the role of the EU as a peacemaker, which entails transparency and citizens’ involvement in these talks.
In the divided city of Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, PAX supports the efforts of local organizations to improve relations between population groups and encourage responsible and good governance at the local level. PAX also supports partners with their work on Dealing with the Past.
Peace organization PAX supports the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre and the next of kin of those who perished. It supports their campaigns for truth and justice, and organizes commemorations and stimulates dialogue between Dutch battalion members and Srebrenica widows, to increase feelings of recognition, foster mutual understanding and to help to deal with traumas on all sides. The Potocari Memorial Center is an important partner in all this work.
Programme: Bosnia and Herzegovina (Srebrenica)
From 2015 onwards, PAX decided to develop a specific program focusing on Dealing With the Past in the Western Balkan region (Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia), to better facilitate cooperation between local civil society initiatives on memorialization. We also carry out research on this topic, try to link up these initiatives to national and international lobby agendas.
Programme: Regional Western Balkans