Kosovo*, like other countries in the Western Balkan region, continues to face challenges including socioeconomic gridlock and youth disenfranchisement, which have created a conducive ground for the proliferation of extremist ideologies, marginalization and hate speech. IOM recognizes the importance of applying a comprehensive approach that brings together a range of actors is needed. Through a regional project implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo* and Albania, IOM focuses on activities that are both developed and implemented by the communities and within the communities, with a focus on youth development, inclusion and resilience building.

Initiated in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015, and replicated in Kosovo* since January 2017, the project is implementing several grass-roots and youth self-designed activities which range from integrative complexity critical thinking workshops, to media literacy and safe use of internet and social media, to a variety of youth civic engagement and extra-curricular activities.

The activities consists of tested and successful tools and methods to communities and governments to prevent youth engagement in violent extremist groups, discrimination and hate speech, marginalization and organized crime.

The project is implemented since 2017 in Mitrovica e Veriut/Južna Mitrovica, Mitrovica e Jugut/Severna Mitrovica, Kodra e Trimave/Vranjevc and Prishtina/Priština. In its second year of implementation, in 2018 the project initiated in two additional communities, Dragash/Dragaš and Ferizaj/Uroševac.

Key activities

  • MoviEQ Integrative Complexity (IC) Workshop for Youth – Through changing the structure of thinking by applying the proven and measurable University of Cambridge Integrative Complexity (IC) thinking methodology specifically designed for IOM in the Western Balkans, the workshops are based on cognitive psychology, social psychology and social neuroscience. IC (Integrative Complexity) describes structure of thinking. Its level predicts the outcome of intergroup conflicts and measures propensity to violence resulting from extreme, black and white thinking. In a conflict situation a drop in IC has been proven to result in increased violence within three weeks. A significant rise promises peaceful and harmonious resolving of conflict.
  • Parents Workshop – IOM recognizes the important role of parents and teachers in children`s development and in ensuring their safety. The Regional project aims to create a sustainable parent-teachers “first responders to radicalization structure” in each targeted community throughout the Western Balkans. The project offers parents, teachers and other authority figures, such as local police and religious leaders, capacity building workshops that aim to provide them with the tools and skills needed to notice and act upon first signs of behavioural changes. Working closely with well-trained psychologists, three-day trainings are provided to carefully selected parents teachers and other relevant actors in the targeted communities.
  • Media literacy Courses for Youth - Media literacy trainings aim to enhance critical thinking and conscious media consumption among youth. With focus on online content and new media, youth are capacitated to recognize biased news and violent extremist messaging, as well as existing report mechanisms for propaganda and hate speech. By working closely with well reputed journalists in Kosovo and the Western Balkans, this activity is the perfect mix between safe use of media and social psychology. Carefully selected journalists, they facilitate the two-day workshops, which feature capacity building, round tables, and open discussions.
  • Community dialogues and support to youth’ conceptualisation and implementation of youth initiatives for positive change. The project encourages youth-at-risk to self-identify changes they want to see in their community, and offers assistance, for a winning project, to implement their idea. Through community dialogues, youth are able to express their concerns, feel listened to, and discuss, brainstorm, prioritise and develop ideas for potential youth-led projects and community initiatives for positive change in their communities. The project offers youth opportunities for civic engagement and interaction with municipal officers, based on local needs identified by youth themselves. Engaging at the community level through a series of community dialogues, vulnerable youth are able to express their concerns, feel listened to, and develop ideas for potential youth-led projects and community initiatives that can result in positive change and foster greater identity and attachment to their communities. Furthermore, this activity helps young people to act as bridge builders between communities, bringing together youth of different backgrounds, reflecting on concepts of diversity and common identity, and developing a personal commitment to the improvement of their community.
  • Theatre-based peer education for youth to address violent extremism. With positive experience in the past connecting arts with social and behavior change, this activity supports an interactive theatre-based peer education in the community to raise awareness on challenges youth of each community face. A world-wide recognized technique, theater-based education has proven successful to foster change in individual’s perceptions, stereotypes, behavior, while promoting critical thinking and tolerance.
  • Youth engagement through supporting student groups and extracurricular activities. The project support extracurricular and students groups that promote and build diverse voices and empowerment, such as student’s government, debate and environmental club, and other informal organizations and associations from the local schools will be supported by this activity.