1.2 million EUR to support democracy and human rights development in B&H

Through its EIDHR (European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights) program, the European Union provided 1.2 million EUR for 13 new projects supporting development of democracy and human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The awarded NGOs presented their projects in the premises of the Delegation of the EU in BiH, on January 27th 2009 . NGO «Vesta» from Tuzla will work on a project of gender sensibilization of the budget as part of the reform changes on the European integration path and the basis for strengthening women’s rights in BiH.

Launched in 2006, the EIDHR has proven to be a valuable and efficient tool to enhance respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedoms in those countries where they are most at risk. This particular instrument aims at strengthening the role of civil society in this crucial task. In BiH, EIHDR program supported 102 projects from 2001-2008 with nearly 6.5 million EUR.

“What the EU and the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina aims at, is to see this country walking firmly on the path of EU accession. However, as the Progress Report highlighted, one of the key concerns is that Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes a democratic country in which human rights and freedoms are not only fully respected by its authorities but also a country in which its citizens have the possibility to fully enjoy them. In order to achieve this goal, a stronger civil society that will work whole-heartedly on building confidence in and enhancing an open society will be a “must”, said Maria Farrar-Hockley, Head of the Operations Section I within the EU Delegation to BiH, in her address to the media representatives .

Expressing her hope that the selected projects will be successful in reaching the final goal, Farrar-Hockley stressed that in the sector as challenging as “democracy and human rights development”, more effort must be invested to reach the best possible results.

Farrar-Hockley acknowledged the decisive role of the media in the promotion of activities carried out, as well as projects’ results scored by the civil society.

“It is important for both BiH and the region that such projects are made and to fight prejudices regarding the work of NGOs. EIDHR, which was initiated by the European Parliament, is also being implemented in countries which are sorted into two groups: those where human rights are less and those where human rights are more endangered. The key points are that the projects are to be implemented by NGOs and that the implementation of the projects does not require consent of the state, unlike IPA programme” – explained Vladimir Pandurević, Task Manager for EIDHR programme in the Operations Section within the EU Delegation to BiH.

Speaking of the criteria for the award of financial aid, Pandurević said that the objectives of proposed projects, planned activities, but also expected results were of decisive importance. Most of the NGOs which got the support have already been involved in EU projects in earlier times, but there are new NGOs as well, stressed Pandurević.

He added that from 2001-2008, the biggest number of projects has been implemented in Sarajevo – 29, 27 in Tuzla, 20 in Banja Luka and 27 projects have been implemented by NGOs in other parts of BiH.

Pandurević reminded that the new Call for project proposals within EIDHR 2009 had been published on December 18th 2009 and that the presentations of the Call would be held early February 2010 in Sarajevo and Banja Luka.

Pleased to have succeeded in getting financial support for their projects, but also firm in their decision to yield successful results from their activities, the representatives of 13 NGOs have made brief presentations of their project objectives.

NGO «Independent» from Zenica will implement the project „From Social Aid to Social Inclusion“ with the purpose of developing inclusive models of the welfare system through the promotion of effective and efficient social policy and demonstration of social innovation. The project is focused on reduction of poverty, inequality and social exclusion.

NGO «Vesta» from Tuzla will work on a project of gender sensibilization of the budget as part of the reform changes on the European integration path and the basis for strengthening women’s rights in BiH. The project aims at accomplishment of better rights but also financial aid for new mothers at the times of falling birth-rate in BiH.

«Human Rights Bureau» from Tuzla will attempt with its project „Dialogues II“ to encourage as many minority members as possible to get involved in public and political life of BiH. The project of BOSPO from Tuzla has similar objectives, but the emphasis is on Roma population. Implementation of the Law on Gender Equality in the East-Bosnian municipalities, prevention of all forms of violence and strengthening of role of women in public and political life is the objective of the project by the NGO «Future» from Modriča.

Financial aid was also awarded to the projects dedicated to youth issues. Participation of young people in the strategic development of local communities is the objective of the project by Association «Cult» from Ilidža, while the NGO «Hi Neighbour» from Banja Luka will deal with the prevention of juvenile delinquency at the local level.

Association «Centre for Development and Support» from Tuzla attempt with its project „Clear Mind for Clear Water“ to stress the necessity of good ecologic and chemical status of all waters in river Spreča’s confluence.

«Refugee Return Service» from Drvar will work on creation and implementation of mechanisms which will be used in a systemic way to help elderly and disabled people. ICVA from Sarajevo will implement the project “Make Human Rights Reality”, «Centre for Civil Cooperation» from Livno will implement „Lobbying for Better Legal Protection of Workers’ Rights.“ «Agency for Cooperation, Education and Development» from Banja Luka will work on increase of capacities of the organizations for disabled persons, while Tuzla Canton’s «Red Cross» will work on better rights of patients in BiH.