In May 2019, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center started the implementation of the program Creating “a Third Side” in Mitrovica with the support of the Swiss Embassy in Kosovo and The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kosovo.

Sixteen young people from South and North Mitrovica embarked on the program and the first program training on 16 and 17 May 2019. For the vast majority of the participants, this was the first time to meet youngsters that live across the Ibar River Bridge. During the first training which focused on key-concepts of human rights, conflict/conflict resolution, and mediation the participants had the opportunity to absorb new information and knowledge, exchange and network. Learning about human rights and human rights violations broadened their perspective about the situation in Mitrovica. During the first training, the participants also learned about conflict/conflict resolution and how to use mediation as a tool for resolving every-day situations, as well as resolving long-lasting conflict among communities. They showed great comprehension of the political situation and its influence on their life. At the end of the first training, the first barrier was shattered, and the participants anticipated the reunion.

The second training was held shortly after (in June 2019) in Skopje, North Macedonia. It focused was on the power of local activism, idea development and project management. Inspired by good examples from the region, aware of their shared problems, participants started brainstorming and planning joint small-scale projects. Then grouped into four community and gender-mixed teams they designed and from September to December 2019 implemented four projects generated in the second training. The ADRC team provided mentorship and implementation support throughout the course of the four-month small–project process. This resulted into four of successfully conducted inter-ethnic youth initiatives: a joint mural on the Ibar River Bridge promoting human rights, peace and cooperation; a sensibilization and help campaign for stray dogs; Mitrovica’s first joint illustrated map containing a bulk of information one might need to know the city without divisions and as a whole – and – a discussion event that brought together 25 youngsters from both sides that have never had the chance to meet with their peers from the other side communities. The event engaged the current situation of Mitrovica’s youth and possibilities for joint work aimed at bettering the position of young people and inter-ethnic relations in Mitrovica.

The last program activity was a third training organized to certify the participants of the program and evaluate the small-scale projects and the program itself. The participants agreed unanimously that the journey of creating and conducting activities was challenging but worth the feeling of accomplishment and joy they felt afterward.  They assessed as the biggest success of the program the networks, motivation, and devotion created among the participating young people who committed to continue their activism and cooperation in the future.  When describing the newly formed “Third Side”, participants used words like tolerance, companionship, cooperation, respect, and mutual understanding.

Program Creating “a Third Side” ended in February 2020.

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Creating ”a Third Side” aimed:

  • to develop the knowledge, skills, and experience of sixteen (16) young people (aged between 16-28) from North and South Mitrovica to act as intra/inter-community mediators and advocates of change, and
  • to initiate contact and facilitate dialogue between youth from South and North Mitrovica.

It consisted into three (3) sets of training, all lasting six (6) days in topics of human rights, conflict resolution, mediation, and activism; a small–scale grant scheme for the participants of the program, aimed at supporting their ideas and initiatives in improving inter-ethnic communication and in contributing to reconciliation efforts in Mitrovica and the certification event.

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