By Jan Oberg

June 1998

Originally published here


EASTERN SLAVONIA – GENERAL BACKGROUND

The mission of the UN in Eastern Slavonia, UNTAES, was the peaceful reintegration of the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium into the Republic of Croatia. Until January 15, 1998, UNTAES exercised authority over this region through a basic agreement of 12 November 1995 and through UN Security Council resolutions 1037 of 15 January 1996 and 1120 of 11 July 1997.

The follow-up consists of only a small group of UN Civil Police and Civil Affairs staff. OSCE has less than 200 personnel in place. There are also some European military monitors (ECMM, the white suited brigade) who continue to be in the region. All executive power has been handed over to the Croatian government; the international organisations only monitor.

According to the census of 1991, before the war 45 thousand people lived in Vukovar of whom 47% were Croat, 32% Serb and the rest were of other minorities; 35 thousand lived in Vinkovci, 80% Croat, 11% Serb; 105 thousand in Osijek, 70% Croat, 12% Serb.

At the end of the UN mission, about 80,000 Serbs lived in the region about a quarter of whom were DP’s mainly from Western Slavonia. Very few Croats are now there although they have the right to return to their former home places. Croatian police has taken over duties from UN personnel during spring 1998. An exodus of Serbs was considered a likely consequence of the UN leaving the region, but it seems that they are departing on a more slow, regular basis – many to Serbia and some to Norway and Canada. [Read more…]

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https://yugoslavia-what-should-have-been-done.org/1998/06/15/516/

Teaching peace in post-war countries

By Jan Oberg

January 12, 1998 – TFF PressInfo 30

Our most recent publication “Learning Conflict and Teaching Peace in Former Yugoslavia tells you how TFF conducted the “Learning Conflict” Program in former Yugoslavia 1996 and 1997 – and what we learnt from working with 105 ethnically mixed participants during eight courses in Croatia, Bosnia (both entities), Yugoslavia and Macedonia.

This is a practical account of what we did and how we did it, rather than a treatise on the philosophy and methodology of teaching peace in war-torn societies.

Many organisations now offer various types of courses and training to NGOs. What we usually see and hear, if anything, is that these courses are a success and sometimes even contribute to promote the organisation that delivers them. So too with TFF, we are no different. The level of intensity, comments and the general atmosphere indicate that these courses were a success: our participants gave the experience as a whole 4,2 of 5 possible points.

However, few NGOs take the trouble to tell others what we tell you in this report: how we decided what to achieve and not to achieve, the difficulties in teaching under these special circumstances, how it was planned, how local partners and participants were selected, what we taught, how we taught it, what we learnt, what it cost etc. [Read more…]

Post-war reconciliation – who has got a clue?

By Jan Oberg

October 28, 1997 – TFF PressInfo 28 originally published here.

“It’s easy to militarise societies and start wars. Powerful people know how to do it. The world has accumulated all the needed intellectual and material resources.

Preventing, handling and stopping conflicts and wars is more difficult. We know less about what it requires, and only tiny resources are allocated by governments. The UN – humanity’s leading conflict-management organisation – has been sidetracked, exhausted and denied the minimum funds for peacekeeping. The OSCE has a “conflict prevention centre” so small that it stands no chance to adequately meet the challenges ahead,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“In the fields of post-war reconstruction, reconciliation, peacebuilding where human beings and societies move from violence to sustainable peace and development, the global society is virtually without a clue. It lacks adequate research, organisation, professionals, funds, philosophy and strategy. Only a handful of small research centres work with these tremendously complex processes – such as the War-Torn Society Project in Geneva and UNESCO’s Peace Culture programme.

The global system is deplorably immature: it knows how to fight wars within hours but lacks about everything it takes to handle conflicts, to prevent violence, to settle conflicts and reconciliate. Top-level decisionmakers often lack knowledge about social, psychological and cultural dimensions of conflicts – vital for the noble UN norm of creating peace by peaceful means.” [Read more…]