From 29 June – 01 July 2013, the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC) collaborated with New York University (NYU) Center for Global Affairs during the Bosnia and Herzegovina leg of their annual trip to the former Yugoslavia.

Post-Conflict Research Center/New York University Field Report

Report written by Alix Genetay and Philip Farrell, interns at the Post-Conflict Research Center, Sarajevo. 

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Background

The Center for Global Affairs is run under the auspices of the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Its aim is to provide its students with the applied knowledge to excel professionally in the international arena through its Masters program. Students are offered an indispensable and interdisciplinary context for understanding critical issues in international politics, economics, peace building, transnational security, international law, human rights, energy, the environment, and related areas.

The group was led by Professors Belinda Cooper, adjunct professor of International Human Rights, and Jennifer Trahan, associate clinical professor of International Law, both of the Center for Global Affairs. It was their second trip to Sarajevo organized in cooperation with the PCRC.

The PCRC assisted the group during their visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina by arranging interviews and conferences with relevant individuals and organizations in Sarajevo, Bratunac and Srebrenica. This assistance was managed and overseen closely by Ms. Velma Šarić, co-founder of the PCRC, and their translator Ms. Niđara Pasanović. 

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Field Report

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The group’s activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina began at the Hotel Michele where a series of talks was organized by the PCRC with four speakers. The first was with Mr. Denis Dzidic of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). Mr. Dzidic spoke to the group about the work of BIRN in Bosnia and Herzegovina to counterbalance the traditional media system and to provide the public with non-biased information related to post-conflict issues. The students showed an interest in the monitoring of war crime trials, one of the main focuses of BIRN in the country.

Next, Ms. Hasija Brankovic, President of the Association of Women Victims of Torture and Rape, spoke to the group about her organization and their struggle to obtain political recognition as victims of war crimes to obtain the same level of state assistance as veterans and their family. The students showed a great interest in her thoughts about the ICTY work and her feelings on reconciliation.

Next, the group heard from Mt Zarija Saizović, a Professor of Law at the University of Sarajevo Faculty of Political Sciences. Professor Saizović gave a presentation on the history of former Yugoslavia in the past thirty years and the present political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the students. Some questions were asked about his personal opinion of the political perspective in the country.

The last speaker of the day was Dr. Sabina Čehajić-Clancy, a social psychologist, who talked about her ten-year research on intergroup reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The students asked a range of questions related to her work and reconciliation in general in the country.

In the afternoon, the group was treated to a short walking tour of important historical sites in central Sarajevo. These sites included the Latin Bridge (scene of the 1914 assassination of Franz Ferdinand), the Monument for the Killed Children of Sarajevo and the site of the Markale Massacre (the scene of two bombings in 1994 and 1995) where their guide Ms. Pasanović told them a bit about the story connected with each site.[/accordion_panel] [/accordion]

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The next day the group was driven to Bratunac and Srebrenica in Republika Srpska. On the way, they stopped in Konjević Polje where Ms Šarić showed them an example of the problems the returnees have to face in Republika Sprska. In this particular case a Muslim woman, Ms Fata Orlovic, cleansed from the village during the war returned in 2000 to find an orthodox church built on her land where her house once stood. A second stop was made in front of the Kravica storage, the site of a mass execution in 1995. Today the cow sheds still stands where over 1000 men and boys were murdered, the access is restricted and there is no memorial.

The students were then brought to the Memorial Room for Killed Soldiers in Bratunac and given a short lecture by Mr. Vladan Radić, the Memorial’s curator. Mr. Radić also answered questions the students had on topics ranging from the recent history of Bratunac to the present political and social situation in Republika Srpska.

Afterwards they went to the Potočari memorial and interviewed Mr Azir Osmanović who spoke about the memorial and his personal experience as a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide. He also took the student to the battery factory where they watched a short documentary called “The Fall of Srebrenica”. The group laid a wreath in front of the monuments of the memorial complex.

The day ended with a dinner at the Hotel Misirlija where the students met with Ms Hatidza Mehmedović, the president of the Mothers of Srebrenica and met with Mr Hasan Hasanović an other survivor of the genocide. They both shared their personal experiences of what happened in July 1995. The students showed great interest and asked a variety of questions.[/accordion_panel] [/accordion] 

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The students were taken to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) headquarter in Sarajevo. Representatives of the organization talked about its history and its work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its role in identifying missing persons from the war.

The students showed great interest in this talk and asked a number of questions about the technical side of the commission work in identifying bodies and matching with their living relatives.

Finally the students visited the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina where Ms Minka Kreho, Criminal Division judge gave them a presentation on the work of the Court. The students showed a great interest and asked many questions. A more detailed account of the visit can be found on the Court website [sws_custom_underline_hyperlinks link_type=”http://” link=”http://www.sudbih.gov.ba/?id=2837&jezik=e” link_name=”HERE” line=”solid” border_width=”1″ space=”0″ text_color=”00d6d6″ line_color=”” bkgcolor=”” hover=”hover2″] [/sws_custom_underline_hyperlinks] .

In the afternoon, the group visited the office of the Association of Women Victims of Torture and Rape and met again with Ms. Hasija Brankovic. The students also bought handcrafts made by the women of the association with all profits going to help the work of the association.

We at the PCRC are very satisfied with our role in this project and the great cooperation we experienced with the NYU Center for Global Affairs, and we believe we’ve done our utmost to provide the students with a great insight into post-conflict development and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We introduced them to professionals who gave them insight into post-conflict reconstruction and individuals who brought their personal stories and experiences. This joint project illustrates what the PCRC is about – diversity and inclusion of all members of the society, as well as telling the story about the armed conflict and work on reconciliation of the society as a whole.[/accordion_panel] [/accordion]

We wish to give a special thank you to Professor Cooper and Professor Trahan for this mutually beneficial opportunity for cooperation. We look forward to working closely with them on similar projects in future.

 

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