The Yugoslav conflict formation – 14 issues

By Johan Galtung

Written 1996, edited 2006

What did we typically learn from the media and what not during the 1990s? Here is one way of answering that question:


In the right column are a number of narratives, stories waiting to be told.  They are all important in any effort to understand what went on. But the media over-selected the narratives to the left at the expense of the narratives to the right.  The argument is not that what is to the left should not be covered, but that what is to the right should also have been given a clear voice, a ‘glasnost’. Thus, the role as “war correspondent” is classical and honored; peace journalism hardly even exists as a concept in violence-hungry Western media.

As a consequence the image created was that all bad events, with no history, just “nationalism”, happen in Yugoslavia. The idea of “ethnic conflict”, with no context in time or space, serves that purpose well. Outside actors are only spectators, trying their best to help in a noble way. This lack of historical context is what Professor Svetozar Stojanovic refers to as “presentism”. Good media would reflect all three, past, present and future (implications, consequences). [Read more…]

Societal security and the explosion of Yugoslavia

By Håkan Wiberg

Written in late 1992 or early 1993

The Yugoslav crisis since the late 1980s has been one of the most complex in European history. This complexity consists in the multiplicity of sources of conflict behaviour: economic, cultural, political, constitutional, international, etc. It also consists in the “spider web” character of the conflict pattern between political leaderships: interconnected triangular relations with shifting coalitions, each change having effects on the entire pattern.

Academic specialization, journalistic criteria of newsworthiness, political demands for mobilizing simplifications and plain ignorance have interacted in tending to picture the Yugoslav conflicts as a set of isolated bilateral one-issue conflicts, usually also with clear value directions. It will therefore take many years before we see any solid and comprehensive analyses. Trying to anticipate them already now would be hubris.

The present section merely attempts to present some components of the complexity and to highlight some background causes before focusing on how the concept of societal security may contribute to a more comprehensive analysis. [Read more…]