Building bridges across a divided past toward a future of mutual respect and dignity

Joint high-level visit of the UN, OSCE Mission, Council of Europe Office and EU in BiH to the War Childhood Museum marks the start of United Nations Special Adviser Adama Dieng’s mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina

The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr Adama Dieng marked the start of his official mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina with a visit to Sarajevo’s War Childhood Museum on Sunday evening. The European Union Ambassador to BiH, Mr Johann Sattler, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec, the Council of Europe Ambassador, Mr Drahoslav Štefanek, and the UN Resident Coordinator in BiH, Ms Sezin Sinanoglu, joined Mr Dieng in viewing the unique exhibition.

The delegation noted how deeply the trauma of conflict runs in children, individuals and communities. Unlike many commemorations, memorials and celebrations that exacerbate differences between communities, this exhibit reminds us that the scars of trauma do not discriminate by nationality, religion or race. The experience of all civilians is equally important.

“We have seen objects that vividly convey the impact that conflicts have on the lives of children at the stage in life when they should be playing and developing their minds, their bodies and their spirit. War carries forward trauma to the future generations. Peace cannot be taken for granted. There cannot be a stronger reason for us to redouble our efforts in order to ensure a durable peace for all”, said Special Adviser Dieng following the talk with Mr. Jasminko Halilovic, Founder of the Museum, and Ms. Amina Krvavac, the Executive Director of the Museum.

The unique character and the project of the War Childhood Museum was awarded in 2018 by the Council of Europe Museum Prize as a recognition of excellence in museum art and its significant contribution to the presentation of European cultural heritage.

“We are pleased that we could also talk with Mr Dieng and all the members of the delegation about the expansion of the Museum outside BiH. Our joint efforts have to be directed towards promotion of peace and fight against hate speech across the world. It is important that our commitment for the WCM’s establishment as an international platform has support of the leading international organizations”, said Jasminko Halilovic, the founder of the Museum.

“I was here today to reaffirm the EU’s commitment to fostering an environment in which crimes against humanity and human rights violations will not be tolerated and the dignity of each victim will be respected in line with international norms. Those in positions of responsibility in BiH must find away to overcome the past, enable a sincere dialogue and do everything in their power to provide access to the truth for all victims and society as a whole”, the newly appointed EU Ambassador to BiH Sattler said.

The UN, the OSCE Mission to BiH, the Council of Europe and the EU note that the rising tide of the rhetoric of hate and mistrust, the denials of war crimes and genocide, and the glorification of war criminals by elected and public officials and by some media organizations do not allow BiH’s citizens to heal their traumas.

These actions and words pose an impenetrable barrier to any meaningful and sustained efforts for genuine reconciliation between victims and survivors of the conflict as well as between future generations of Bosnians and Herzegovinians.

The senior leaders committed to work jointly with community, political and religious leaders and citizens of all nationalities in order to help define a climate of mutual empathy, respect, dignity for all.