Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Reducing the threat of violent extremism in both its religious and ethno-nationalist forms, and countering extremist efforts to deepen or exploit communal tensions.


With a history of conflict and divisions, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has struggled with persistent tensions and tenuous stability. Twenty-five years after the end of the war, BiH faces enduring social cleavages, economic stagnation, and governance deficits. Newer challenges include a renewed rise in ethno-national extremism, manipulation by foreign actors, evolving recruitment strategies by extremist groups, 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.

Moreover, the BiH political system directly fosters extremism through divisive narratives, corruption, increasing feelings of marginalization among youth, and supporting echo chambers of like-minded individuals. The program is an integral part of the U.S. mission to advance regional stability and partner with the citizens of BiH to build a prosperous and democratic future that is tolerant, secure, and firmly anchored in Euro-Atlantic institutions.


In November 2017, USAID/OTI launched its BiH program to strengthen positive political and social actors and discourses to provide alternatives to extremist voices and influences. USAID/OTI works closely with Bosnian civil society organizations, local community leaders, and government institutions to prevent various forms of VE in BiH by:

  • Bolstering local activism and leadership for positive citizen engagement;
  • Strengthening voices and alternative narratives that challenge division and extremism; and
  • Strengthening the ability of institutional and community actors to mitigate and respond to escalatory violence.


  • Strengthening youth engagement: USAID/OTI works with local activists to create open spaces for positive and constructive youth engagement in their communities in potential flashpoints across BiH. USAID/OTI created youth centers in some of the most-isolated and marginalized areas of the country to provide a platform for youth leadership and engagement with local municipalities, while demonstrating positive collaboration across ethnic lines. Similarly, cultural and social activities have proven effective in mobilizing youth and providing channels to move from discussions on contentious versions of a shared history to those of a shared vision.
  • Amplifying alternative narratives: The USAID/OTI program challenges radical voices and extremist narratives that dominate national discourse by supporting local activists and outlets who promote alternative messages through offline and online campaigns. The program works with online news portals to better monitor and moderate hate speech on their sites, thereby disrupting the influence of extremist messaging. In addition, USAID/OTI helps build networks of community media platforms from across the country in order to leverage the power of a collective voice.
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Last updated: November 09, 2020

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