Ethno-nationalist movements and opposition to democratization and modernization led to the breakup of the former Yugoslav federation and war. These events revealed numerous problems, including the absence of a democratic political culture and the lack of instruments for managing conflicts. The education of people for coexistence, dialogue and a peaceful resolution of conflicts through democratic institutions and procedures are an essential precondition for stability and progress. However, this goal is made more difficult by the results and experiences of the war. Contrary to the claims of many current regimes, the Balkans has for many centuries been a single multicultural, multiethnic and multiconfessional community.
The aim of ISID is to demonstrate that cooperation; tolerance and understanding are possible between different ethnic and religious groups and to give support to local forces working for peace and the restoration of interethnic and interconfessional trust. ISID will thus be an introduction to “education for tolerance”, not only for students from the Balkans but also for those from other parts of Europe.
ISID’s main theme can be broken down into three sub-themes:
- Breaking down walls of division: basic challenges and general principles of interconfessional dialogue and understanding;
- Learning to live with neighbors: historical case studies and current examples of the role of religions in promoting or hindering harmonious coexistence;
- Working together to resolve problems: meeting fellow students and local people, refugees, government officials, religious leaders and NGO activists to discuss community needs and possible means of reconstruction and reconciliation.
Each annual ISID will concentrate on a specific theme:
- In 2001, multiculturalism and citizenship;
- In 2002, from ethnic conflict to cooperation through negotiation;
- In 2003, human rights and minority protection in post-communist societies.
The themes for following years will be determined by the International Board.
Each school will have a total of 30 students divided into two groups of 15 each.
Students will be selected with the help of universities and similar institutions in all the former Yugoslav republics, other Balkan countries, USA and West Europe.
Lecturers will include leading experts in the field.
Lecturers and students will help the International Board to form links with the following institutions:
- The Russian Independent Institute for Social and Ethnic Problems, Moscow;
- The Institute for Central European Studies of the Laszlo Teleki Foundation, Budapest;
- The International Centre for Interculturalism and Minorities, Sofia;
- The Center for Ethnic Conflicts of the Institute of Sociological Research, University of Skopje;
- The Balkan Institute for Peace Studies, Skopje;
- The Faculty of Political Science, Sarajevo;
- Forum for Ethnic Relations, Beograd
- The Institute for Ethnic Relations, Sarajevo;
- The Center for Peace Studies, Zagreb;
- The Institute for Peace Studies, Ljubljana;
- The European Civic Center for the Study of Regionalism and Minorities, Maribor;
- The Department for Ethnic Studies, University of Linkoping;
- The Institute for Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds
- The Yugoslav Association for Religious Studies, Nis;
- The Peres Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation, Tel Aviv
- The International Network Europe and the Balkans, Bologna;
- The Project on Ethnic Relations, Princeton.
Two ISID summer schools have been held to date. In August/September 1997, a summer school was held in Kotor, Montenegro, on the theme of ethnic relations in postcommunist societies, and in July/August 1998, a school was held in Zabljak, Montenegro, on theme of myth, religion and ethnicity.