Amela Suljić


Current living place:
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Amela Suljić

Western Balkans Regional Program Officer

  • Former activities:

    Youth Initiative for Human Rights BiH, CRS, Tuzla Community Foundation, Humanitarian Organization Prijateljice, OSCE, OXFAM organization, etc.

  • My organization:
    Established in 1996, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) assists governments in meeting their legal obligations regarding missing persons and contributes to building institutional capacity. ICMP contributes to transitional justice, provides legislative support, and enhances the capacity of specialized ad hoc bodies, as well as justice sector institutions, including prosecutors, judges, police, and forensic specialists. ICMP also supports the development of networks of civil society organizations which advocate for truth, justice, and the rights of family members of missing persons. Also, it encourages the work of ther organizations in its activities to contribute to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.

  • Examples of concrete activities I have organized/am organizing in the field of “dealing with the past”:

    ICMP launched the project on dealing with the past and truth, justice and reconciliation as a pilot initiative in 2003. Goal of the ICMP Transitional Justice project was to create a space for dialogue, to increase awareness and closer links between associations of families of missing persons, other victims- survivors groups, and other NGOs on transitional justice themes, and policy recommendations to decision makers.

    Topics and specific themes that had been arisen from this project and activities were: paths to reconciliation, mechanisms for truth seeking and documentation, international models of transitional justice, reparations for war victims, conference on missing and memorials, low key consultations on memorialization, regional and international conferences of memorialisation process, memory and remembrance, youth study tour and visit to memorial sites, study trip to Berlin with group of families of the missing from the Western Balkan, etc.

  • Concrete challenges I am facing in my “dealing with the past”-related work:

    I consider that everything that ICMP is doing, especially through the work Justice and Civil Society Initiative department, present a big challenge in term of dealing with a past and transitional justice. Victims groups, particularly associations of families of missing persons, are poorly informed about existing and possible mechanisms of transitional justice. In addition, linkages between victims groups and other NGOs and decision makers are insufficient, thus creating a weak and uncoordinated voice of civil society on the topic of pursuing truth, justice, and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia. A particular problem has become apparent, which is a gap between various victims groups and so-called “elite” NGOs who are focused on topics of human rights, democracy, and dealing with the past, which creates lack of trust toward the “elite” NGOs.
    Further, it is hard to influence on victims of torture, families of the missing and other victims groups and to convince them that a dialogue is essential if they want to change something and to better advocate for their right. It is very important to assure them about importance of finding the common interest together with other stakeholders in aim to actualize their effort in pursuing the truth and justice, to lobby for the adoption and implementation of laws and other activities that are important for them.

  • My personal link to/interest for the topic of “dealing with difficult pasts”:
    Personally, dealing with the victims groups doesn’t have just humane character but it is in the same time a challenge for many human rights activist and those who work on dealing with the past process. Especially I’m very interested in process of memorialization focusing on both local and regional/international approach. My interest in this work is in fostering a dialogue between different national, religious and ethnic group from Western Balkans, not just only with families of the missing, but also with other CSO, activist and youth. Since ICMP is already working on establishing a dialogue with various target groups from across the region on memorialisation process, I’m particularly interested in this process and activities that are related to preservation of memory sites. I’m also interested in educational approach, especially a contribution of youth in entire process. In this sense, my idea it to establish cooperation with other CSO representatives involved in the dealing with the past and transitional justice topics (Memory Lab group) in aim to have a broaden discussion on joint commemorations and memorialisation process in WB.