Collaboration and networking – sustainability of influence

Aware of the enormous needs on the one hand and the limited capacity of each organization in individual action on the other hand, we promote and support cooperation and partnerships as a model for achieving a stronger and more lasting impact on areas of general good and wider/greater significance. Joint activities open the possibility to define common goals and are an excellent tool for sectoral networking, exchange of experiences and information.

The Centre for Peace achieves its aspiration for a stronger influence on public policies and practice primarily in the Republic of Croatia, and then regionally and internationally through the implementation of collaborative and partner projects in several key areas. These areas partially coincide with the EU's goals in the area of strengthening regional cooperation:

  1. Building peace and stability
  2. Improvement of political and good neighborly relations
  3. Economic and social recovery and prosperity
  4. Return of refugees
  5. Fight against organized crime
  6. Reform of the judicial system

Regional cooperation as a fundamental determinant of the EU is highlighted in all documents of the European Commission. In one of the more recent ones, Regional cooperation in the western Balkans, A policy priority for the European Union (2005), it is stated that the countries of the region have already achieved considerable progress in the fields of trade, energy and transport, while additional efforts must be made to increase trust and cooperation between people and countries. Civil society organizations are recognized as important actors in all areas of regional cooperation.

Civil society organizations in Croatia are already effectively using their resources in the field of cooperation. One can even talk about a kind of tradition of joint implementation of programs and projects at the national and regional level.

The work of the Centre for Peace on opening dialogue between separated groups, building peace in war-torn multi-ethnic communities, informal education in the field of education for peace and conflict resolution has only reached a small number of individuals/communities. Achieving a stronger influence, especially the inclusion of the topic of peace building and stability in various public policies, forced the creation of the Peace Building Network. One of the goals of the Network is the inclusion of local self-government representatives in the peace-building dialogue, which contributes to the faster resolution of a number of unresolved issues that are often slowly resolved through traditional means.

The basic commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights resulted in the establishment and active participation in the Coalition for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Through the joint action of a dozen associations, we influence two goals of regional cooperation. The return of refugees as crucial for ethnic reconciliation is considered an indicator of the democratic maturity of each country. One of the key achievements in the field of justice system reforms is participation in drafting the law on free legal aid to all citizens and defining the role of legal aid providers and the non-governmental non-profit sector.

In an effort to stimulate the process of confronting the past and establishing the factual truth about the war and contribute to moving the public discussion from the level of disputes about facts (the number of dead and the like) to a dialogue about interpretations, the Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights Osijek, the Centre for Peace Studies, The Citizens' Committee for Human Rights and the Croatian Helsinki Committee decided to establish Documenta - the Center for Facing the Past.

The connection and participation of citizens in the creation of national and European policies are highlighted in the White Book on EU Communication Policy (2006) as well as the Commission's Action Plan on European Communication (2005). Both documents recognize the key role of civil society organizations in the process of connecting and two-way communication between citizens and public institutions. The European Commission has already set minimum standards for the participation and "listening" of citizens for its institutions. It demands the same from its members and candidate countries. The white book concludes with a chapter on the joint implementation of all guidelines, whereby the role of CSOs in creating conditions for an equal relationship and partnership with the public and business sectors is emphasized again.

Our contribution to the stated goals, and especially in raising the awareness of citizens for active participation in all spheres of socio-political life, is made through the Regional Forum of Associations of Slavonia. The Charter on the Cooperation of Associations and Local Self-Government (signed in December 2004) encouraged both associations and local/regional self-government to raise questions and question the possibilities of cooperation on a more equal basis, which resulted in the introduction of new practices and joint planning of the development of civil society in our region.