Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia Map OTI
 

Working closely with Bosnian civil society organizations, local community leaders and government institutions to help prevent violent extremism in its various forms.


WHY USAID/OTI IS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

With its history of conflict and divisions, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has struggled with persistent tensions and tenuous stability. Twenty-three years after the end of the war, BiH faces enduring social cleavages, economic stagnation, and governance deficits. Newer challenges include evolving recruitment strategies by extremist groups, a renewed rise in ethno-national extremism and manipulation by foreign actors, and the return of fighters from foreign battlefields. The reciprocal nature of ethnic and religious extremism and radicalization is a destabilizing factor for the country, where hardline and extremist voices dominate political and social narratives.

These issues have assumed greater importance as the divisive political climate has intensified leading up to and in the aftermath of national elections in October 2018. Government and community stakeholders recognize the importance of preventing ideologically motivated violence but lack the knowledge and resources to do so effectively, putting the stability of the country and the Western Balkan region at risk.

USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

In November 2017, USAID/OTI launched its BiH program to strengthen community resilience and to address through a prevention lens the threat of violent extremism (VE). USAID/OTI works closely with Bosnian civil society organizations, local community leaders and government institutions to prevent various forms of VE in BiH by:

  • Increasing community resilience to VE radicalization and recruitment;
  • Diluting and disrupting the influence of radical messages; and
  • Strengthening institutions’ and actors’ ability to mitigate violence.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Strengthening youth engagement: In potential flashpoints across BiH, USAID/OTI worked with local activists to create community centers and open spaces for positive and constructive youth engagement in their communities.
  • Amplifying alternative narratives: The program mitigated the dangerous effects of hate speech in a tense election year by supporting online campaigns and positive stories. Citizen journalism countered some of the inflammatory rhetoric by providing a local perspective.
  • Robust research: USAID/OTI commissioned research on the role of the internet in violent extremism. Findings revealed a reduction in calls for violence and open recruitment on public and more secure websites. Instead, researchers hypothesized that violent extremist efforts have either evaporated or gone onto the dark web, which poses serious ethical, legal and technical challenges to researchers conducting future studies.
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Last updated: March 27, 2019

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