Russian and Ukrainian youth meet for dialogue in Odessa!

NHCs Enver Djuliman is currently in Odessa, Ukraine, where Russian and Ukrainian youth are together for dialogues for reconciliation between Russian and Ukrainian youth. Symbolically, the participants planted trees of peace.

Since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine started almost three years ago, the need for a dialogues process has been urgent. The official negotiation process on resolution of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is inefficient. It is crucial to establish dialogue groups and organise peacekeeping initiatives involving both parties to the conflict. Indeed, various initiatives have been lunched to promote dialogue among different groups with various focus areas, and there are separate attempts and initiatives to create dialogue platforms between facilitators, politicians and public figures. But until now, there have been no proposals to involve youth and young activists of diverse backgrounds from both – Russian and Ukraine in the dialogue and peacekeeping promotion.

Participants in Odessa. Photo: Julia Kishenko and Elena Levina

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee with our partners, the Human Rights House-Chernigov (Ukraine) and the Human Rights House-Voronezh (Russia), has started a project to meet this need. The initiative aims to prepare 25-30 young activists from both countries for approaching a reconciliation between Ukrainian and the Russian communities and to find common answers to the difficult questions between youth of the two countries. The process will include the creation of platforms for initiatives which will be realized by the young activists as micro projects on the territories of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The substantive part of both training and practical initiatives will include transitional justice, peacebuilding, human rights and rebuilding of trust. The goal of the project is to create and support a network of young peacekeepers who will engage for reconciliation in Russia and Ukraine.

Planting three for peace. Photo: Julia Kishenko and Elena Levina

The event in Odessa is the third in a series of dialogues this year, and we evaluate the projects that the students have carried out. Enver Djuliman from NHC contributes with its experience from work on peacebuilding in Western Balkans and North and South Caucasus.