AIPR Launches Sarajevo Seminars for Prevention

SARAJEVO, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – On March 18, 2015, AIPR launched a new initiative to engage communities across Bosnia and Herzegovina—religious, governmental, academic, and civil society—and work with them towards developing a network of organizations that will educate and act in the spirit of genocide and mass atrocity prevention. The Raphael Lemkin Seminars for National Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention included a seminar from March 19 – 20 for thirty-five representatives from various organizations both in and outside of Sarajevo that work on peace building, reconciliation, education, and inter-faith dialogue. A follow-up seminar was held on March 21 for fifty-one graduate and undergraduate-level students from the region. The seminars were organized with the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Mr. Hasan Nuhanovic, a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide who campaigns today on behalf of other survivors and relatives of the victims, opened the Sarajevo seminars. Opening remarks were also delivered by seminar co-organizers, including Dr. Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti Emeritus of BiH, Mr. Vedad Cengic, Executive Director of the Family Memorial Foundation and Mr. Esmir Ganic, Vice-President for International and Government Relations at the American University in BiH.

Frequent Lemkin Seminar instructor Mr. Vahidin Omanovic of the Center for Peacebuilding in Sanski Most, BiH, led a discussion on the role of identity in conflict and conflict resolution, while AIPR Academic Programs Director Dr. James Waller delivered several modules on topics including the legal definition of genocide, how ordinary people commit genocide and mass atrocity, and the role of memory and memorialization in transitional justice. As Waller recently recalled, the Sarajevo seminars “aim to develop a genocide and mass atrocity prevention curriculum for institutions of higher education in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” In addition to his work with AIPR, Waller is the Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College, New Hampshire. “Basically,” he added, “we’re hoping to translate the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program we’ve established at Keene State into a similar curricular initiative in BiH.”

According to Jack Mayerhofer, AIPR’s Coordinator of the Office of the Executive Director:

The seminar was a critical first-step towards a long-term mechanism to counter the threat of mass atrocities through preventive awareness and action. There was a lot of great discussion and participation from attendees, and a tremendous level of enthusiasm to increase engagement on prevention-related issues.

For more information about the Sarajevo seminars—including our future plans in this region—please contact Mr. Mayerhofer.