The consultation was organized by UN Women, and included representatives of women’s associations, NGOs, and those who have been directly impacted by the conflict, including conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence in the Balkan region. During the day-long session, civil society representatives from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey addressed a range of women, peace and security (WPS) issues prevailing in the Balkans region.

The Balkan region was selected for a consultation based on the regional history of conflict during the 1990s and the diverse experiences on peace and security of the former Yugoslavia countries. The establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and several of the Tribunal’s judgments can been seen as an important development for the regional efforts towards recovery and reconciliation following the 1990s war. The regional consultation provided an opportunity to examine to what extent the positive developments and challenges persist in areas such as women’s participation and representation, their protection against sexual violence and other human rights abuses, their economic and social empowerment, as well as their access to (transitional) justice, reparations and humanitarian assistance whenever needed. The Balkan region also has valuable experience in the context of border crossing security threats such as human tracking, sexual slavery and tackling arms trade. As such, Balkan experiences, challenges and recommendations have been considered critical to chart the way toward a future commitment to the women, peace and security agenda.

Zineb Touimi Benjelloun, UN Resident Coordinator in Albania opened the CSO consultation. UN Women country representative for Albania David Saunders and High-level Advisory Group member Igballe Rogova from Kosovo were also present. Flora Macula from the UN Women office in Kosovo moderated the day.

Key areas of interest and discussion included:

  • Violence against women, including domestic violence;
  • Lack of female representation at decision-making positions;
  • Unemployment, especially for young women (and men);
  • Lack of redress for conflict-related sexual violence CRSV (mainly Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina), in the form of accountability and reparations for survivors;
  • Human trafficking and organized crime; and
  • Emerging issues including violent extremism and climate change.