The French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) awarded on December 10 the French Republic’s Liberty, Equality, Fraternity Human Rights Prize to the Youth Initiative for Human Rights from Croatia, a non-governmental organisation with whom the French Embassy to Zagreb has been closely cooperating for years.

This award aims to recognize a fundamental role of civil society in promoting and protecting human rights worldwide, as well as the work of non-governmental organisations and individuals, regardless of their nationality and borders. Two topics have been emphasised this year: young human rights defenders and the duty of fraternity. Thanks to the latter, Croatian YIHR office attracted attention of the selection committee with the project ‘Common Narratives – the Past Goes On’.

As one of the five winners this year, the Croatian office of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights is part of a regional network operating in Kosovo (since 2003), Serbia (since 2003), Bosnia and Herzegovina (since 2006), Montenegro (since 2006) and Croatia (since 2008). YIHR supports numerous young people in their efforts to face often belligerent past of their countries and learn from it for the future. Through the project ‘Common Narratives – the Past Goes On’, around 180 young people (between 18 and 25 years of age) participated in study visits to each of these countries, as well as in discussions and conferences, in order to examine prevailing discourses about recent past in their countries and, finally, formulate and exchange their own narratives. At the end of this project, the participants created a collection of narratives with assistance of experts and historians from the region.

Regional Network of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights received the Vaclav Havel Prize awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe in September this year for its work with youth in the area of reconciliation.