Peace in Progress Award Ceremony

Associations “Woman, the Victim of War” Sarajevo and “Forgotten Children of War” are this year’s Peace in Progress award winners, given by the International Catalan Institute for Peace for the unique way of peace promotion. 

Awarded trilogy “There is still someone in the woods” portrays life stories of women who survived wartime sexual violence and children born f war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through documentary, play and an exhibition. It was implemented in partnership with our dear friends, Cultura i Conflicte production, to whom we are grateful for the nomination. 

We are honored to share the award with the deceased general Jovan Divjak, who was awarded in 2013, for the strong and brave work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are proud for the recognition of our devotion to empower survivors and children born of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

After the delegation’s reception in the presidential offices, the International Peace Day event was opened by the president of the Catalan Parliament, Anna Erra. Meliha Merdžić and Amela Međuseljac (Woman, the Victim of War), as well as Ajna Jusić and Alen Muhić (Forgotten Children of War) received the award. 

Međuseljac expressed her immense satisfaction given by the organization she works in, not only because of the “support for the survivors”, but also for “establishing the truth and justice”. She reminded us that, thanks to the painful testimonies of the survivors, a lot of criminals have been convicted, but “a lot of women who suffered sexual violence are remaining silent, ashamed because of the stigma and discrimination in their living and working environment”. 

Ajna Jusić, president of the Forgotten Children of War, pointed out that children born of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina “with their bodies and personal testimonies decisively changed the course of the national and international law, to create an equal society with the fairer legal order and laws”. She also pointed out that the obligation of non-discrimination requires that after the war, every state actively identifies individual children and groups of children whose recognition and realization of rights may require “special measures”. By the International Law for Human Rights, the states are obligated not to stigmatize, and to protect the individuals from the stigmatization or the omission of third parties. Bosnia and Herzegovina, like other conflict and post conflict states, didn’t fulfill its obligations. Even today, children born of war are often viewed through the prism of “military rape strategy”. 

President of the International Catalan Institute for Peace, Xavier Masllorens, reminded that “the consequences of wars and all kinds of violence never end with the signing of a peace agreement or with the cessation of direct violence”. The ICIP Peacebuilding Award honors individuals, organizations or institutions that make an important contribution to the promotion and building of peace and has been chosen since 2011. 

The event began with the performance of an excerpt from the play “There is still someone in the woods” which talks about the experiences of women who suffered sexual violence during the ‘90s war. 

The representative office of the Government of Catalonia in Bosnia and Herzegovina, headed by Eric Hauck, provided great support to the Cultura i Conflicte project and the maintenance of strong cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Catalonia. In November 2022, the Representative Office organized a regional tour of the trilogy, which included a symbolically important guest appearance at the National Theater in Sarajevo. 

During their stay in Barcelona, the Bosnian delegation had the opportunity to hold a meeting with Meritxell Serret, the Catalan Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

The winners of this year’s ICIP award pointed out the still existing obstacles faced by survivors and children born of war, and pointed out that this kind of recognition represents additional motivation to continue working on this issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and across the world.