Youth Reconciliation Initiative Summer Camp (Kosovo)

Peace Camp Paper

Peace camps are beginning to multiply in numbers all over the nation. These camps are dealing with ethnic conflict. Early research of these camps has shown reduction in tension and violence between two different cultures. One particular camp called “The Youth Reconciliation Initiative Summer Camp” in Kosovo seems to be making some gains in trying to establish peace in this country. The brief historical background, the organization OSCE and the youth camp will be discussed to find out what led up to forming the Youth Reconciliation Initiative Summer Camp.

Kosovo is south of Serbia and has a mixture of cultures in which the majority are Albanians. They were an autonomic country until 1989. The Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic made changes and did away with autonomy and brought Kosovo under direct control of Belgrade, the Serbian capital. The people of Kosovo were at an uproar at the decision that was made by Milosevic. The Albanian forces till this day are in major conflict with Serbian military and police forces. In 1989 1500 Kosovo Albanian’s were killed and 400,000 people were forced out of their homes. As the war went on resolution and agreement could not be settled so NATO stepped in and ordered for air attacks. This was designed to attempt to withdraw Milosevic regime from Kosovo and force him to cooperate. This strategy worked and Milosevic agreed to comply with NATO and air strikes were called off.

The UN Security Council Resolution was very concerned about how forceful the Serbian forces were in Kosovo and called for a cease-fire by both Serbia and Albanians in Kosovo. Soon after an agreement was arranged and in 1992 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) came in to establish a Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM)

The OSCE is the largest organization for security and cooperation in the world with 55 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America. Their main goal is to present or settle conflict. The Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) was one of the hardest missions by OSCE. One of their goals was to verify the cease-fire overseas. They wished to move forces and promote human rights and democracy building. However, because of the falling of the security dilemma the KVM was withdrawn in 1999.

The OSCE is still trying to promote peace through a project called Youth Reconciliation Initiative Summer Camp, which first started in August 2003. This was a way for the OSCE to try to reduce tension and provide cooperation between the communities. The camps consisted of 30 youth from the Rejee/Pec Youth Network (YPNE) in Kosovo and 30 youth from the Interethnic Project Kumanovo from Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The camp is located at the beautiful Ohrid Lake in Ohrid. On the first day of camp the youth introduce themselves and discuss their interests and activities they participate in. The ninth day at the camp the kids are involved in numerous courses in conflict management and analysis, intercultural and religious diversity, team-building and communication skills. The youth also get the chance to go out in the city of Ohid and talk to the citizens, priests, and members of the public institutions to get some feedback about the conflict happening in Kosovo. The OSCE project manager said, “There are a great many young people in Kosovo and it is imperative that they come to understand both their own role and importance in political developments and the day-to-day implications of governance.” He also states that the youth will gain experience in learning about the election process and there will also be a mock of a central assembly session in which draft laws will be discussed and voted on.

The Youth Reconciliation Initiative Summer Camp seems like it will penetrate far and do some good in Kosovo. The only argument I have was where’s the fun activities! The camp is scheduled with workshops and strictly learning based activities but there is nothing about having fun. A camp should have hiking, swimming, arts and crafts, water activities, dances etc. I know that when I was young, when I went to camp fun was the first thing on my mind. Maybe they did have activties, but I researched in