Immediately prior to the high-level Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Council meeting in Basel, Switzerland, a Parallel Civil Society Conference was held on 2-3 December, 2014. This meeting was convened by the Civic Solidarity Platform, a network of more than 60 human rights NGOs from throughout the OSCE region.
Peace Boat’s Jasna Bastic participated in the conference, presenting at a panel entitled “Narratives for the Future in the Western Balkans.” Here, she explained Peace Boat’s activities to preserve and pass on narratives of survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as part of the “Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project.” Furthermore, she also presented still open issues of dealing with the World War II past in public debates in Japan, including military sexual slavery and the so-called “comfort women”, the meaning of Yasukuni Shrine, and how the war past is presented in history textbooks. Drawing from her own personal experience of conflict in the Balkan region and perspectives regarding the many similar unresolved issues in the Western Balkans today, Jasna drew parallels between the situations in both regions, highlighting the role of civil society organizations such as Peace Boat in the reconciliation process. This presentation raised many questions from the audience, and stimulated meaningful discussions with other panelists from the Western Balkans and Switzerland.
The Conference culminated with the adoption of the Basel Declaration, with participants and activists from all over the OSCE region’s analysis and recommendations on alarming human dimension issues to the participants of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting. With a call that rising intolerance, discrimination, and hate crimes pose a major risk for security and require a coordinated response from the OSCE, the full outcome document can be read here.