Project Star: Societal Transformation and Reconciliation (2018-2020)

Bosnia and Herzegovina


The aim of Project STaR was to weave together the strengths of five organizations—Center for Peacebuilding (CIM), PRONI Center for Youth DevelopmentYouth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), Mali Koraci (Small Steps), and Karuna Center—to create a social fabric of people dedicated to reconciliation. The project focused within 10 project sites throughout both entities of the country: Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska.

About the Program

Youth leadership for community engagement

To reach deeper into communities where interethnic cooperation is not the norm, the project layered multiple approaches to engaging youth and young adults. At diverse project sites, we opened and staffed brick-and-mortar PRONI Youth Centers, with the support of local officials, to facilitate an inclusive social space. At these centers, the project engaged hundreds of youth in a variety of activities, ranging from advocacy trainings and interethnic exchange visits to classes in filmmaking. Meanwhile, YIHR trained high school students on interethnic inclusion and respect. YIHR equipped a team of young adults to monitor and report on hate speech in print, radio, online, and television media stories, alerting a national Press Council to concerning content.

Combining youth leadership with broader community engagement, CIM brought together multiethnic groups of young adults for Project STaR summer peace leadership camps and peace caravans. Following a series of transformative dialogues and workshops, the youth toured Bosnian cities and towns coming into contact with diverse perspectives and experience—and when they got home, we supported them to lead their own peacebuilding programs in their communities.

Sharing and stimulating stories of reconciliation

To engage whole communities across generational divides, Project STaR held an interfaith speaking-out tour of Serb, Croat, and Bosniak religious leaders, and facilitates community-wide film screenings and discussions. Throughout both the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, we screened the powerful anti-war documentary Maglaj: War and Peace. The film features 3 commanders (Bosniak, Croat, and Serb) who fought each other during the Bosnian War and have since reconciled and developed mutual respect. These screenings, often featuring the 3 generals in person, have stimulated powerful discussions with the audience about experiences of the war, and the shared desire, across ethnic divides, for a lasting peace. We also facilitated a discussion with the generals after the film at the 2019 Sarajevo Film Festival, where we also brought a delegation of 50 project youth.

In addition to the project’s layers of leadership development and outreach, we provided advanced dialogue training to intermediate-level facilitators from the project’s participating organizations—with an emphasis on facilitating emotionally difficult conversations and eliciting candid and honest responses. We have also engaged community religious leaders and government officials in support of the project’s activities and objectives. Project STaR was supported by a grant from USAID.

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