Bosnia and Herzegovina Civic Education Program for 1999-2000

Publication Date: 
31 Dec 2000

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Introduction

This report covers the fourth in a series of at least five contracts IFES was invited to undertake in Bosnia Herzegovina on behalf of civil society building since 1996. The period of activity for this contract ran from 8 July 1999 to I0 March 2000.

Originally it was envisioned that this contract would include an information pre-election period in preparation for elections scheduled for the fall of 1999. These elections were postponed, however, until 8 April 2000. This postponement allowed the project to concentrate on involving citizens in village and local communities to develop citizen initiatives that would bring improvements to their respective communities. These initiatives enabled IFES trainers based in Zenica, Doboj, and Livno to engage citizens in the decision-making processes in the 47 municipalities in which we worked under the previous contract. These civic initiatives were identified by the acronym "GAINS" which stands for Gradjansk Aktivna Inicijativa, Citizen Activists' Initiatives.

The April 2000 municipal election campaign period provided us with an opportunity to expand into new municipalities with a neutral, pre-election, information campaign to prepare voters for this election. These sessions we called "GOGs" which stands for Grupa za Obuku Gradjana and means "session for educating citizens." In January, 2000, IFES opened two additional offices authorized under this contract: Bijeljina and Bihac.

Throughout the eight months of this project IFES trainers engaged in a variety of activities in addition to pre-election voter education sessions (GOGs) and counseling citizens on engaging in civil society building civic initiatives (GAINS.) Among these other activities were: explaining the new privatization process aimed at introducing a market economy to Bosnia Herzegovina; engaging university students in our democracy building activities; attending and preparing reports on council meetings that were distributed to residents in outlying villages and communities; serving as a catalyst in establishing local NGOs; and convening the first Inter-Entity Civic Leadership Conference for local civic leaders. Our staff was also called upon as a skilled resource in briefing both local election officials and OSCE election officers.

The brochure we used in explaining to people who we are, printed in Bosniak, Croatian and Serbian (Cyrillic) is in Appendix I. The tireless efforts of our local BiH staff brought incomparable achievements to this mission and must be acknowledged at the outset of this report. The biographical sketches of all IFES civic education staff are in Appendix 11.

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