Youth’s understanding of transitional justice strengthened through their participation at the first PYN Regional News Cafe webinar

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During this summer season, we decided to start with the first in a series of four PYN Regional News Cafe webinars intended for politically and socially engaged young people. On July 27, 2023 young people demonstrated their want to learn more about transitional justice key concepts during yet another successful PYN online event. Nine participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia took part in the webinar Transitional justice: Key concepts and their place in post-conflict societies, which was held by Eve Jones, a recent Newcastle University graduate with a focus on political memory

As part of her one-month internship at YIHR Croatia, Eve worked on the PYN publication Regional Cooperation: A Glossary for Politically Progressive Active Youth from the end of June through the first half of July. She introduced the participants to the topic of transitional justice at the beginning of her online presentation by briefly discussing her research interests and prior work in the field. She then attempted to get them acquainted with the various concepts she worked on for the above mentioned glossary. Eve introduced and defined terms like dealing with the past, memorialization, various types of symbolic and material reparations, rights, and the need for the truth to the participants and explained why all of these actions are required in the process of achieving cooperation, peace, and a guarantee that human rights violations will not occur again. Eve stressed the importance of regional cooperation amongst Western Balkan countries to support stability and peace towards the conclusion of her talk, highlighting examples of effective civil society cooperation in post-Yugoslav countries.

The continuation of the webinar was followed by questions from the participants and a discussion about post-communist and post-conflict societies in the region and their decisions to take different transitional paths to democracy. Eve continued the discussion by pointing out the importance of achieving transitional justice in the region, even though there is an obvious imbalance and a lack of political will to achieve it, as part of the decision makers encourage nationalist tensions in their countries instead of providing mutual support and assistance. Due to Eve’s British background, the participants also asked questions and broached the topic of British imperialism and racism in the context of transitional justice. They also wanted to hear her view on the generation gap between the war and post-war generations in the region, so Eve referred to collective identities and collective memory as well as victimhood present among older people who participated in and survived the wars of the nineties.

At the end of the webinar, the attendees touched on the most current upcoming political events, so the conversation continued on the celebration of the military-police operation Storm and the statement of the President of Serbia on holding a commemoration for the victims of Operation Storm in Prijedor. The guest lecturer ended the lecture with the conclusion that when marking such anniversaries, one should get in touch with the victims, do meaningful and respectful commemorations, move away from celebration and mark it as Remembrance day.

After the end of the fruitful discussion, the next Regional News Cafe webinar was announced to the participants, which will be held in the fall.

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