Community-led, multi-ethnic dialogue centre launches in the heart of Pristina; USG Lacroix, SRSG Ziadeh and Mayor Rama call for intensified community trustbuilding efforts

11 May 2023

Community-led, multi-ethnic dialogue centre launches in the heart of Pristina; USG Lacroix, SRSG Ziadeh and Mayor Rama call for intensified community trustbuilding efforts

A new centre for people from all of Kosovo’s communities – led by people from all communities – was launched today at an UNMIK event marking trustbuilding efforts in Kosovo.

The Barabar Centre is a multi-ethnic dialogue space for civil society and communities to come together and host events and discussions that enable intercommunity dialogue on issues of mutual concern in an accessible, safe and constructive environment.

Its inauguration was announced at the ‘Trustbuilding in Kosovo: Supporting Togetherness for a Better Future’ event attended by Kosovo’s trustbuilding champions, international peace- and trustbuilding experts and top UN officials, including the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK Caroline Ziadeh. The event comes five years after the UN Kosovo Trust-building Forum was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia in May 2018.

The centre has been created and driven by two Kosovo NGOs, NGO Integra from Pristina and NGO CASA from North Mitrovica, with support from UNMIK. The NGOs jointly presented the “Barabar Trustbuilding Principles”, a set of guiding notions to light the path towards greater trust in Kosovo, both inter-community and between communities and institutions.

“The idea of Barabar is to have an open platform, an open hub for everybody who shares the same values and principles,” Barabar Centre co-director and Head of Integra Kushtrim Koliqi said.

Similarly, Barabar Centrer co-director and Head of CASA Miodrag Marenković said the space would be one for genuine exchanges.

“This is the place where together with our partners we are going to develop various projects that will bring together…stakeholders from all communities to build social cohesion.”

There were more than 250 guests in attendance while more than 60 NGOs and individuals were recognised for their contributions to trustbuilding in pursuit of a better future for all communities.

Check out a video of the Barabar Center and its vision here:

Barabar Community Dialogue Centre

You can download Barabar's trustbuilding principles here.


Messages of hope: Trust is vital to peace and security


USG Lacroix, who arrived today in Pristina on his first visit to UNMIK, described trust as “integral” to the functioning of society, institutions and progress during his keynote remarks.

“Trust is one of the most potent human connectors. It has an incredible power to relate, inspire, motivate, and encourage action at any level and scale. Yet trust is also one of the most fragile ones, easy to undermine but difficult to restore.”

SRSG Ziadeh encouraged a renewed commitment for people to come together to jointly face challenges. She urged those gathered to redouble their efforts to find common ground for a more prosperous future.

“Through identifying and bridging gaps, locating commonalities instead of focusing on our differences, together we will be able to shape a future for Kosovo that is both stable and sustainable.”

Mayor Rama said diversity of experience added value to the city.

“I stand committed to ensure [Pristina] will provide a safe and empathetic environment for all communities [and will] lend a powerful voice to advance the provision of services to all communities, regardless of background.”

Trustbuilding in theory versus practice

The event also featured a panel of eminent local and international experts who discussed the actual process of trustbuilding, and how to close the gap between aspirations and reality. They included:

  • Monica McWilliams, Signatory to the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, Professor at the University of Ulster, and former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission;
  • Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Co-founder of the Southeast Asian Women Peace Mediators, Professor at the University of the Philippines, and former Chief Negotiator for the Government of the Philippines;
  • Lulzim Peci, Executive Director of Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED);
  • Veljko Samardžić, Executive Director, Center for Social Initiatives (CSI)

The panel was moderated by Christopher Coleman, Faculty of RIT-Kosovo (American University of Kosovo Peace and Conflict Summer Programme, Former Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General/Deputy Head of UNMIK.