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UK Global Conflict Prevention Pool

The Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) was established in March 2001 by the UK Government with the aim of reducing the number of people around the world whose lives are affected by violent conflict and, ultimately, cutting the number of conflicts that occur, including by reducing the potential for conflict. The Balkans Strategy is one of 15 strategies, split geographically or thematically, within the GCPP. For more information, see Global Issues, Conflict Prevention

The Balkans Strategy within the GCPP funds high impact initiatives to support efforts to turn the region into one where normal European states conduct their affairs in a peaceful, law-abiding way, moving towards integration into wider Euro-Atlantic structures (EU, NATO). It is run jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for International Development (DfID), and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The FCO has main responsibility for projects that are related to Tackling Organised Crime and Strengthening Democracy and Inter-ethnic Relations; DfID for projects related to Safety, Security and Access to Justice; and MoD for projects related to Security Sector Reform. £12.5 million has been allocated to the Balkans Strategy for the financial year 03/04, roughly divided as follows: Tackling Organised Crime and Strengthening Democracy and Inter-ethnic Relations, £4.25m; Safety, Security and Access to Justice, £4.5m; Security Sector Reform, £3.75m.

Strengthening Democracy and Inter-ethnic Relations

The overall purpose of the Democracy and Inter-ethnic Relations element of the Balkans Strategy is to foster harmonious inter-ethnic relationships and an effective participatory democracy that reduce sources of conflict at local level across the region. Projects under this element are designed to resolve:

  1. the weakness of state institutions and the failure of the rule of law;
  2. ethno-nationalist politics and the exploitation of the instabilities of political transition;
  3. social exclusion, and tensions over language, religion, ethnicity and gender;
  4. legacy of unresolved ethnic conflict, including displaced persons and refugees;
  5. weak cross cutting social and civil society organisations; and
  6. alienation from state institutions, emergent jurisdictions and judicial systems.

Projects have included support for sustainable refugee return (e.g., 'go and see visits', community activities and income generation initiatives); the production of television programmes to aid reconciliation; network connections for independent media; training for journalists; the creation of civic forums; and initiatives to involve citizens in local and national politics.

Projects have yielded positive results.

The non-governmental organisation Economic Cooperation Network (ECON) was funded to run an income generation initiative in Han Pijesak, Eastern Republika Srpska to encourage re-integration of returnees in the local community. A cooperative, including members from the Bosniak Muslim returnee community and the Serbs, was formed to grow and sell organic produce. The cooperative has continued to work well since the funding period ended in November 2002. This project has been extremely successful and has received critical acclaim in the British press.

ICMP DNA Laboratory, Banja Luka

A vital step towards reconciliation is to identify persons missing due to the Balkan wars, and therefore bring to a closure the scars of war. Over £500,000 has been donated to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) by the UK Government. ICMP has identified about 15,000 missing bodies in the region to date by using DNA data analysis. For more information see International Commission on Missing Persons.

Tackling Organised Crime

Organised criminal activity threatens to undermine the political and economic progress that has been achieved in the region. If left unchecked the continued interaction between criminal networks, politics and nationalist sentiment could ultimately act as the catalyst for renewed regional conflict.

In particular, projects funded from the Organised Crime element of the Balkans Strategy address:

  1. the weakness of state institutions and the failure of the rule of law;
  2. corruption; and
  3. criminal networks and the grey economy.

Projects include secondments of UK experts to Ministries of the Interior and crime units; provision of equipment and training, for example to set up databases; and teams to monitor Customs and run internal audits.

In October 2003, the Attorney General attended a signing ceremony in Belgrade between Customs officials and the Customs and Fiscal Assistance Office (CAFAO) to establish a Customs Enforcement Division in Serbia and Montenegro. The Division will work to reduce fraud and economic crime. Equipment has been provided to the Division, funded from the GCPP.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, an audit team is targeting 16 to 18 companies and reviewing their systems of internal control. By October 2003, 9 public companies had been audited with 20 criminal charges being brought against former personnel.

Victoria Whitford, formerly of the British Office in Pristina, with the Crimewatch Kosovo crew.

GCPP funding has supported the production and broadcast of Crimewatch Kosovo (Dosja e Krimit), a popular and successful television series. The series has been running since July 2002 with the purpose of demonstrating that the multi-ethnic Kosovo Police Service (KPS) is part of the community in the fight against crime, and engaging citizens in their work. The show, aired monthly, receives around 30-50 investigable leads per month from members of the public. It has resulted in a number of high-profile arrests.