IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsDisplacement in the Western Balkans Calls for Regional Solutions

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Friday, May 25, 2012

Displacement in the Western Balkans Calls for Regional Solutions

On May 25th, the IPI Vienna Office hosted an informal meeting on “Regional Solutions for Displacement: Lessons Learned from the Western Balkans.” The workshop brought together senior government representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia for a unique opportunity to reflect on the process of finding regional solutions to the problem of forced displacement in the Western Balkans.

Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) took part, including the Personal Envoy of the High Commissioner, Anne Willem Bijleveld, and Pierre Mirel, Director for the Western Balkans in the European Commission Directorate General for Enlargement.

As a consequence of armed conflicts in the 1990s, over 3 million people were displaced both within and beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia. Lives were turned upside down and homes were damaged or destroyed. Twenty years later, the way that the four affected countries have worked together to ensure the voluntary return and reintegration, or local integration, of refugees and internally displaced persons is considered a successful model that others can learn from.

In the past few years, former adversaries have worked together as partner countries to strengthen regional cooperation in order to find durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons. Political will and good-neighborly relations have been strengthened through the Sarajevo Declaration of January 31, 2005, the Belgrade Joint Communiqué of March 25, 2010, and the Belgrade Declaration of November 7, 2011 while joint working groups have led to practical results.

During the meeting, the negotiators discussed lessons learned from the process that transformed their relationship from animosity to partnership. Among the points highlighted was the need for political will and leadership, transparency, economic incentives, a regional approach, and a sense of ownership of the parties to the process. It was also stressed that a practical approach designed to address the plight of the most vulnerable helped to depoliticize the issue.

Among the external enabling factors that helped to drive the process forward were the political engagement of major actors (such as the EU and the USA), the support of multilateral organizations (such as the UNHCR and OSCE), and the pull factor of European integration. The role of the personal envoy was praised by all parties, particularly for the fact that through him the international community was able to speak with one voice.

The workshop concluded by looking at how the experience of finding regional solutions for displacement in the Western Balkans could be applied in other parts of the world, particularly in the OSCE area.

The event was organized by Switzerland (in its capacity as chair of the OSCE Human Dimension Committee) and UNHCR, in close cooperation with the OSCE.

IPI will prepare a report based on the findings of the meeting.

The Global Observatory

As Nature of Conflict Changes, Is International Humanitarian Law Still Relevant?
In this interview, Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier, legal director of Doctors Without Borders, discusses the relevance of humanitarian law in today's conflicts.

Key Global Events to Watch in April
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

April 05, 2014
IPI Opens Middle East Regional Office
International Peace Institute President Terje Rød-Larsen inaugurated IPI’s new Middle East Regional Office with a recognition of the area’s critical importance to the world and the rapid political changes underway in the countries of the region, and he asserted that IPI has an “important role” to play there.

March 26, 2014
Derek Plumbly on Lebanese Resilience Amid Rising Challenges
Lebanon has exceeded expectations in dealing with the continuing fallout from the crisis in neighboring Syria, said Derek Plumbly, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, on March 26th. Speaking at the International Peace Institute, Mr. Plumbly praised the Lebanese people for “actually sustaining a measure of stability in their country.”

March 25, 2014
Adebajo, Panel Discuss African and African-American Nobel Peace Laureates
The ten Africans and three African-Americans who have won the Nobel Peace Prize comprise a complex group of peace leaders, said Adekeye Adebajo, Executive Director of Centre for Conflict Resolution, on March 25th. He spoke as part of a panel at the International Peace Institute’s launch of Africa’s Peacemakers, Nobel Laureates of African Descent, edited by Mr. Adebajo.

View More