This year marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Such a momentous anniversary provides not only an opportunity to reflect on the past and take stock of where we are, but also to think about where we are heading as we move forward. This is why #UN75 has launched a global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want and the change we need. Looking back on nearly a century of UN experience helping societies torn by conflict, we have learned that trust is a cornerstone for peace, mutual respect and shaping our shared future together.
Motivated by the same desire for positive change, nearly two years ago the United Nations Kosovo Trust-building Forum developed a bold roadmap to cross the boundaries of distrust for a more peaceful and inclusive society. This roadmap – the trust-building agenda – reflecting the shared aspirations of diverse communities in Kosovo, continues to deliver results.
Since more than 120 participants from a broad cross-section of Kosovo society came together in Ljubljana and agreed on 135 recommendations to build trust in Kosovo, over 200 individuals, institutions and organisations have undertaken more than 300 initiatives to fortify the foundations of an enduring peace and a sustained, inclusive and stable society.
One of the main takeaways of the Forum was the value and need for similar exchanges that bring together diverse views in a constructive and solution-oriented manner. Driven by the trust-building agenda, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network with the support of UNMIK produced a series of eight televised town hall debates to enable local communities to discuss critical topics, including the participation of women in political decision-making, religious tolerance and youth priorities.
In another example, over ten Forum recommendations address language, and the challenges and opportunities stemming from operating in a multi-ethnic and diverse linguistic context. The trust-building agenda is working to address this by bringing people together through language learning. For the first time in 30 years, language experts from Belgrade and Pristina are working together on the largest Albanian-Serbian and Serbian-Albanian dictionary made available online. In another trust-building achievement, more than 32,500 people now regularly benefit from the new VocUp language learning application.
The trust-building agenda is also a helpful framework for catalyzing existing efforts to support women and youth, among other groups. For example, the Global Open Day organised annually in Kosovo creates a unique space for women to be heard and highlights the importance of women’s meaningful participation under the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Prioritising issues affecting women in Kosovo, last year, a broad coalition of international and local partners also worked together to inaugurate the first multiethnic shelter for gender-based violence survivors in Novo Brdo/Novobërdë and surrounding areas. This was a major milestone in the fight to eliminate gender-based violence in Kosovo—a fundamental prerequisite to ensuring a safe environment in which all people can realise their full potential.
Another trust-building champion, the United Youth Task Force, has demonstrated the powerful role of young people in reaching across diverse communities to promote multiethnic cooperation through creativity, vision and friendship.
These achievements are just a few of the countless—and too often invisible—everyday efforts to take forward the trust-building agenda in Kosovo. The Kosovo Trust-building Platform is both a product and an important servant of this agenda. Conceived by the Forum participants and powered by local champions to share information, promote collaboration, avoid duplication and advance the implementation of the trust-building recommendations, the Platform serves as the singular source of information on trust-building initiatives in Kosovo. It provides well-deserved visibility and recognition to those ideas, individuals and institutions whose acts, both public and quiet, are working to restore trust.
The Kosovo Trust-building Platform brings to your fingertips the ideas and initiatives, individuals and institutions that can deliver this progress. I invite you to take up the recommendations, take inspiration from the work of your champions, take advantage of the resources featured on the platform, and take forward the trust-building agenda in your community. For the future we want, let us build together the trust we need.
This project is supported by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and is implemented by the New Social Initiative. Expressed opinions represent the authors’ views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, UNMIK or New Social Initiative.