About us

Youth Initiative for Human Rights

Inicijativa mladih za ljudska prava
Nisma e të rinjve për të drejtat e njeriut

Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) is a regional network of non-governmental organisations with programmes in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Since their foundation in 2003, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights has been fighting for the same values.

The basic values of the Initiative are truth, justice, accountability, equality, freedom, democracy and peace. We are fighting for peace in the region, not only for the absence of war, but for the peace as a lasting process which means dealing with the past and which results in continuous co-operation between the states and people in the region. 

We do not accept belligerent politics and war crimes in public space – we insist on respecting the established facts and on both legal conviction and moral condemnation of persons responsible for crimes committed during the wars in former Yugoslavia. We educate young people from the region about the heritage of war through dialogue on the perspectives of democratic development of our societies. 

Aware that there is no democracy without civic activism, YIHR activists protect human rights and refuse to give up on hard-fought freedoms.

The headquarters of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights are situated in Belgrade, Zagreb, Podgorica, Sarajevo and Prishtina.

YIHR activities

The focus of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights is on societies and citizens, above all the youth, who are least familiar with the events and war crimes committed during the 1990s, where nationalist ideologies, which led to wars and where all sides celebrate their war criminals as “heroes”, still prevail.

More than 15,000 secondary school pupils, students, legal specialists, artists, journalists, human rights activists, film makers and writers have gone through exchange programmes which the Youth Initiative for Human Rights has been organising since the first day. In 15 years of work, the Initiative has published several hundreds of press releases, more than 30 analytic reports and studies, organized 200 training programmes, more than 150 regional exchange programmes, 300 street actions and protests, and won 15 cases before national and international courts.

As a leading voice of youth in the region, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights has also organized four Youth Summits which took place in Belgrade, Prishtina, Sarajevo, Zagreb and Skopje so far. These summits brought together thousands of regional and international youth civic and political activists with the aim of exchanging experiences and initiating the processes of democratic reforms. The Youth Summits have encouraged and led to the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), intergovernmental office of Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Montenegro.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights has established and is organising several festivals aimed at connecting the youth and encouraging cultural co-operation in the region, such as The Days of Sarajevo in Belgrade (until 2013) and the Miredita, dobar dan festival (since 2014) which presents artists of Kosovo and Serbia in Belgrade and Prishtina.

Since its very beginning, the Initiative has been participating in litigations of public importance. The first judgement for the violation of prohibition of hate speech was rendered in September 2008, as a result of the proceedings initiated by YIHR against the Glas javnosti daily because of an advertisement calling for the boycott of a shopping mall because it was managed by a company from Croatia.

The Initiative has also sued the Government of Serbia before the European Court of Human Rights for the violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights when the Government refused to give YIHR access to information in possession of Serbian intelligence agency BIA, the access of which YIHR requested pursuant to the Free Access of Information of Public Importance Act. In 2013, the European Court decided in favour of the Initiative. This court decision is important for the citizens as well as for the state of Serbia as it asserts that intelligence agencies are subject to the same provisions on access to information as any other public body; moreover, it confirms that non-governmental organisations, such as the Initiative, can play a significant role, similar to the one the media have, in the protection of public interest and as a corrective of government action.