We are proud to inform you that the Foreign Policy Initiative BH is again among the Top 100 think-tank organization in Central and Eastern Europe! FPI BH is on the 89th position at the 2019 Go To Think Tank Report published by the University of Pennsylvania.
Our regional think-tank network, TEN – Think for Europe Network, where FPI BH is a member is on the 34th position for the best think-tank networks in the world.
We are proud to inform you that the WeBER Project has received financial support from the European Commission for its continuation and that in the next three years we will continue our work toward reformed public administrations in the Western Balkans.
Guided by the SIGMA Principles, WeBER has pioneered an evidence-based civil society approach to monitoring the governments’ progress in PAR based on EU requirements. It has also built bottom-up reform demand by creating a regional WeBER Platform for PAR dialogue and by empowering CSOs through capacity building and consultation events and meetings. This has laid down foundations for the continuous involvement of civil society in PAR, relying on the regional approach and regionally comparable WeBER monitoring results.
Under the new name, Western Balkan Civil Society Empowerment for a Reformed Public Administration, the WeBER 2.0 design relies on the results of WeBER and published PAR Monitor reports. WeBER 2.0 continues the intervention logic developed and proven effective in the first project, namely that the creation of regional and local pressure and demand for PAR compliant with EU requirements/principles is the best (and perhaps only) way to ensure long-term effectiveness of the EU’s conditionality in this area and keep these reforms on track even beyond the point of achievement of EU membership by the WB countries.
The impact that WeBER 2.0 intends to create is an empowered civil society, armed with knowledge, skills and tools to monitor PAR and hold their national and local governments to account for the quality of policies they develop, services they provide and the overall management of the state and local governments and administrations.
WeBER 2.0 has begun in December 2019 and will last until December 2022.
The position of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Western Balkans is increasingly precarious. Across the region, HRDs and organisations, as well as independent media outlets, are prone to intimidation, threats, smear campaigns, digital and physical attacks, and an overall disregard by national authorities.
While the region shares several common features (sluggish integration, weak rule of law, intimidation of HRDs, limited democratisation, lack of press freedoms etc.), naturally each country faces specific challenges and the protection of human rights has unique consequences, depending on local contexts.
As such, this report published by CRD has been compiled by experts from each of the six Western Balkan states, who have extensively researched the challenges and position of HRDs in the region, and offered a broad range of recommendations to national authorities, the international community, media and HRDs themselves. Having interviewed 100 HRDs for the purpose of this report, it represents one of the most prolific and detailed on-the-ground studies of their position in the Western Balkans, on a country-by-country basis.
Anida Šabanović from FPI BH participated in preparing the report “Human Rights Defenders in the Western Balkans” ,which can be found here.
In the period 14.11.2019. to 17.11.2019. Foreign Policy Initiative BH organized a study visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina for young people from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary who participated in a photo competition on “SUCCESSFUL INTER-RELIGIOUS CO-OPERATION AND DIALOGUE”. Participants in these three countries had the opportunity to make their own picture based on a video collage, created as a result of shared personal experiences and thinking of young people in BiH, who portrayed equality in their stories through the prism of inter-religious coexistence and dialogue that makes BiH a unique country that can, by way of example, offer young Czechs, Hungarians and Slovaks a reading of history which shows that successful dialogue between members of different religious communities can be (and is, in fact) the rule, not the exception.
During the study visit, the participants had the opportunity to talk with representatives of NGOs in Sarajevo, the Center for Advanced Studies and Humanity in Action (HIA). Center for Advanced Studies – CNS is a non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit organization dedicated to comprehensive and sustainable development of BiH – a society based on peace, justice, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Humanity in Action Bosnia & Herzegovina is an essential part of a collaborative, international learning community of university students and young professionals in Europe and the United States. They think about the big questions in life and society – like social responsibility, values, universal rights, and empathy for those who we disagree with. They care deeply about history and constantly compare the past to the present to learn for the future.
Also, at the premises of the Inter-Religious Council in BiH, they were introduced to the work of the Inter-religious Council which acts as a domestic, non-governmental organization that is not superstitious but a body through which the goodwill of traditional churches and religious communities is manifested to contribute jointly to building civil society in areas where the influence of churches and religious communities is undeniable..
At the War Childhood Museum, they had a presentation and then a tour of materials related to growing up in the war and got acquainted with the stories of each of the young people who submitted some of the items on display at the museum. The exhibition and the idea of establishing a museum was based on a 328-page illustrated book that brought the story of all ages with a rare opportunity to confront the traumas of their recent past without reinforcing ethnic boundaries, the WCM has expanded its activities to contemporary conflict, post-conflict, and resettlement zones.
The study visit finished with a city tour and a visit to museums and major historical sites and institutions.
These activities were organized as part of a project called “My Neighbor, Success Stories of Inter-faith Dialogue within and beyond the V4 Countries” funded by the International Visegrad Fund.
Bosnia and Herzegovina must fundamentally improve its legislative and institutional framework to ensure adherence to 14 priorities in the Commission’s Opinion. It should be the only political agenda for all political parties in BiH in the coming decade. The EU continues to have a strategic interest in the Western Balkans, but it is not a priority; rather, the EU’s priority is to work on its own ‘fitness’, and to give the Western Balkans time to do their homework. Therefore, this new dynamic will only be seen within the EU. BiH can only hope that its political elites will finally move forward.
The aim of this analysis is to provide an overview of the potential changes in the internal and external dynamics of EU politics and policy concerning enlargement towards the Western Balkans, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will examine the messages sent by the EU, in this context, prior to and following the formation of new EU institutions. Since European integration is a two-way process, this analysis will also try to show the current state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina as it pertains to the requirements and expectations of the EU’s Stabilisation and Association process.
The analysis also aims to familiarise policy experts – those coming from different institutions, civil society organisations, diplomats, the international development community, the media, as well as political party officials and young political leaders – with what could be possible develop-ments in EU policy formulation following the European elections, and the formation of EU institutions over the next five years. It will also bring to their attention the impacts such developments will have on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European aspirations.
Participants of the panel discission for the presentation of the analysis were its author Davor Vuletić (FPI BH), Dženana Hodžić (Political Advisor to the EUSR in BiH), Osman Topčagić (President of the Paneuropean Union of BiH, and Former Head of BiH Mission to the European Council), Rasim Ibrahimagić (Initiative for Monitoring the European Integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Darija Ramljak (The Directorate for European Integration -DEI). The discussion was moderated by Hana Sokolović (Former News Presenter at N1). Elisabet Tomasinec, Head of Political Section(EUSR in BiH) did the introduction speech. In their discussion the panelists have underlined that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to fundamentally improve its legislative and institutional framework to ensure that it meets the 14 key priorities set out in the Commission’s Opinion.
The presentation was be attended by representatives of the civil society organizations, academia, relevant institutions, embassies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, members of the academia and media.
Third place 🥉 - Amina Žigić
Story title: My Neighborhood
In her short video, she told us about her happy growing up in a multi-ethnic community that made her a person with a broad views.
Second place 🥈 - Ermil Horozovic (Zavidovici)
Title: Inter-religious Relations of Youth
The video presents the true story of a group of students from different religions (a brief story of the religious coexistence). The video also shows two schools under the same roof shared by a fence, however young people do not pay attention to it. They met early in their academic years, and have been in touch with each other ever since. They have become friends who share everything, help one another, organize get-together meetings, visit one another for their religious holidays and learn the traditional way of cooking for the same. They can be an example of how to “demolish” a fence raised by religious conflicts. The video shows how we can only benefit from situations like these, and how we should spread positive energy rather than create conflicts, and encourage others to share the same thinking and behavior.
📌 First place 🏆 - Ishak Dedić (Bužim)
Story title: "Does it matter?"
The three friends train together. One is Catholic, the other is Orthodox, and the third is Muslim. It is not important to them, as it should be to everyone. They train and joke, and in addition respect each other. They don't mind the insignificant differences, they are friends, that's all that matters.
Video collage available here.
Contest text in local language available here.
The PAR Monitor is the result of research undertaken over the past year by the Think for Europe Network, with the goal of providing a systematic civil society monitoring of public administration reforms (PAR) in the Western Balkans. This exercise was motivated by the need to strengthen domestic, bottom-up pressure from the civil society sector in the long run, in
order to ensure that post-EU accession, when the leverage of the EU’s conditionality in the governance area weakens, the reform drive endures. Based on a robust methodological approach, combining quantitative and qualitative techniques, and building on the EU’s Principles of public administration, the PAR Monitor measures the countries’ state of play in PAR, benchmarks them against each other, and provides recommendations for improvement. The PAR Monitor also ensures complementarity with the monitoring carried out by SIGMA/OECD and the European Commission. It therefore provides a citizen and civil society focused perspective on the EU-SIGMA principles.
The PAR Monitor comprises an overall comparative regional report and six country reports, each including findings on the 23 compound indicators designed by the WeBER project team to monitor a selection of 21 EU-SIGMA principles.
Public administration reform (PAR) is today considered a fundamental requirement for the EU aspirants on their accession path. As a complex and all-encompassing reform, PAR in the Western Balkans region is being thoroughly assessed through the lenses of the SIGMA Principles of
Public Administration, developed by the OECD/SIGMA and endorsed by the EU. These Principles define what makes a well-functioning administration in terms of its ability to deliver transparent, efficient and effective services to citizens, and to support socio-economic development.
In the context of a high external pressure for tangible developments in PAR, home-grown demand for better administration becomes even more important, to keep pressuring the government to pursue reforms once the external conditionality dissipates as the result of a completed accession process. Civil society actors, with local knowledge of administration’s
functioning, can lead such domestic advocacy efforts aimed at better administration. Independent PAR monitoring and evidence-based dialogues with the government represent a good approach to achieve this goal.
Based on such a rationale, the WeBER project has completed its first monitoring cycle. Its structured and evidence-based approach to PAR monitoring brings the reform closer to the public, by particularly focusing on PAR aspects with most relevance to the civil society and the public.
WeBER PAR monitoring strongly relies on strengths, skills, and local knowledge of the civil society in the Western Balkans. It builds on the SIGMA’s Principles of Public Administration as a cornerstone of PAR, while assessing them from the standpoint of an independently produced
PAR Monitor methodology. Overall, the methodology is based on the selection of 21 SIGMA Principles within six key areas, monitored and reported through 23 compound indicators that focus on different aspects of PAR.
Societies which are seen as democratic societies are generally envisioned as an environment in which the government operates for the benefit of its citizens and works together with the citizens. One of the values of a democratic order of a country is the transparency of work of its administrative structures, as well as full respect of the inalienable rights of its citizens. Proactive transparency and free access to information are the
basic methods of communication between a state and its citizens.
When speaking about Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a country which is, at least declaratively, a democratic state, it is still very far from the ideal when it comes to these two aspects of democracy. Its lack of openness
partly stems from its historic background from the time of communism, when it was not customary to ask the government to justify its actions or working methods. However, now, for this state which is striving towards
EU and Euro-Atlantic integration and membership, it is necessary to change this paradigm of communication between this state and its citizens. In order to build the citizen’s trust in the administration, the administration needs to be transparent, its work needs to be visible and understandable to the citizens, because in that way the possibility of corruption and abuse of power is reduced, and the citizens are enabled to take active participation in decision making processes. However, it is still too early to speak of the existence of a consistent proactive transparency in BiH.
According to the research of the WeBER project, perception of the civil society pertaining to the quality of legislation and the practice of access to information of public importance is low for all Western Balkan
countries, but BiH and Montenegro are at the very bottom. The results of this research for BiH show that less than 30% of the CSOs agree that the public administration authorities record enough information within their
work in order to provide the public with free access to information of public importance. Furthermore, only 20% of the surveyed CSOs consider the exceptions to the presumption of public character of information to
be adequately defined in the legislation and adequately applied in practice. However, some positive views are held towards practical aspects of requesting information: information is provided in requested format, within deadlines, and free of charge. Furthermore, the research has also shown that the information provision on the websites of the institutions lacks a citizen-friendly approach. Publicly available information is only partially complete and updated, and accessible within maximum three clicks from homepages of the institutions.
Do Western Balkan governments have effective public administration reform agendas? Is PAR purposefully implemented? Are there functioning structures to steer the reform design and implementation? Find out in this WeBER Infographic!
To see the infographic in full size, click here. (only available in English)