1 Build Bridges not Walls: the role of the Universities in Peacebuilding

@article and photos provided by Norwegian Helsinki Committee for human rights

Build Bridges not Walls – the role of universities in peacebuilding is a regional education project organised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with Buskerud University College in Norway.

The idea of the project is to define the civic role of the universities in the region, and to improve the cooperation between the universities and civil sector in the fields of human rights, intercultural understanding and peacebuilding. Agreements on cooperation have already been signed with the Faculty of Humanities of the University „Dzemal Bijedic“ in Mostar (follow-up of a previous project pilot-phase), International University Novi Pazar and University of Tuzla.

Enver Djuliman, the leader of the programme and the head of the human rights education department at Norwegian Helsinki Committee emphasizes: “The children are not born as intolerant and with negative prejudices about the others. However, they are also not born tolerant with knowledge on human rights, dialogue and tolerance. It is only matter of our choice: what we want to teach our children? The blood in Western Balkans started to flow from the books, in the libraries, at the universities. And still today, 15 years after the wars were over, many universities are idelogical and ethnicized. Education presents the best way to build peace. Such education that does not build peace does not have much sense. The Helsinki committees of Norway, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and other non-governmental organisations together with selected universities in Western Balkans and through planned three years activities and collaboration would like to define the role of the university, teachers and students in peacebuilding. We would like universities to take their responsibility.“

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