‘Project YouTHink – Saying NO to Corruption’, which is implemented by the organisation ‘Ja bih u EU’ and financed by the Embassy of the United States of America in Bosnia and Herzegovina, engages young people and civil society organisations to react to various forms of corruption through direct participation in civic activities in an innovative way that applies processes of experiential learning and practice. Our goal is to mobilise young citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina as allies for future reforms in the area of the rule of law and to encourage mass public opposition and a more effective response to corruption.
The first interactive panel, titled ‘How Corruption affects the Life of Young People in Bosnia and Herzegovina – the most common forms of Corruption’ was held in Mostar. It was opened by Alma Kozo MSc soc. from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Welfare of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, professor Merima Jašarević PhD from Džemal Bijedić University and Edisa Demić from the Dignitet Association in Mostar.
Professor Jašarević pointed out “The fact is that the phenomenon of corruption is the oldest social phenomenon, therefore as old as human civilisation. Since the first communities, we have a human tendency to achieve certain personal goals at the expense of the general interest of the community. Self-discipline, effort and work, desire for knowledge and work on the positive sides of our personality are the only and real preventative medicine against corruption. Corrupt actions stick to unstable personalities, greed and often lack of competence. A personality that is strong, that aligns its goals with the goals of the common good, can be a cure for social deviations such as corruption. Therefore, knowledge and a moral compass in every human being are the ideal of a healthy society.”
At the beginning of the panel, an online survey was presented. The survey was carried out by the organisation ‘Ja bih u EU’ as part of the preparation of the panel as well as for the Academy for the fight against corruption, which will also be run within the project. One of the findings of the research shows that 93.5 per cent of respondents do not trust the judicial system in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Marko Pavlović and Haris Hodžić, students at the University of Mostar and the Džemal Bijedić University, presented the opinions of young people in the fight against corruption. A large number of secondary school pupils and students responded to the invitation to attend the panel and shared their experiences of corrupt actions.
Džejla Tanović, one of the panel participants, said “Today’s panel brought me closer to the concept of corruption and I learned a lot about the ways in which we can report corruption and I will try to pass on the knowledge I have acquired to other young people in my local community.”
An extremely large percentage of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are aware of the existence of corruption in various forms but the overall social climate, unfavourable socioeconomic conditions and lack of reform in the area of the rule of law make citizens feel generally insecure and powerless in the fight against corruption.
Edisa Demić, an activist, stated “Today we had the opportunity to hear how young people can be positive initiators of change. We know that in order to prevent corruption it is necessary to have a good legislative framework, effective institutions in the fight against corruption, an active citizenry, awareness of the harm and sanctions for the perpetrator of corruption. Events like this are an excellent opportunity for young people to learn and share their thinking and ultimately fight against this scourge in their further life.”
The panellists sent the message that cooperation between institutions, the academic sector, civil society organisations and young people is extremely important in the fight against corruption.