Project Factsheet
Tools for » Enhancing Inter-Ethnic Community Dialogue and Collaboration in FYR Macedonia
Project ID:00067217Description:MDGF-1948-F-MKD Enhancing Inte
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Dec 2008
MDGF Conflict Prev Peacebld
End Date*: 27 Jul 2012
Country: Republic of North Macedonia Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


Inter-ethnic dialogue and cohesion is central to the development of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as a vibrant multi-ethnic society and future European Union member. Since independence in 1991, the country has faced social, political and economic challenges related to its transition, including an inter-ethnic conflict in 2001. The MDG joint programme (JP) aimed at enhancing the capacity of central and local bodies to facilitate inclusive problem-solving processes and consensus-building around community priorities and strengthen the commitment to an inclusive civic national identity with respect to diversity.

The JP focused its support to institutions and organizations that facilitate good inter-ethnic relations in three pilot municipalities and at national level. Stakeholders include national and local governing institutions, media and civil society. The overall achievement is to have started an unprecedented consultative process with formal and informal stakeholders in order to improve inter-ethnic relations. A large number of workshops, dissemination events and trainings led to the establishment of a new national system named the Mediation Support Unit (MSU) housed within the St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. There are reportedly 240 dispute resolution practitioners in the database of the MSU that can be and have been mobilized to unblock problems and resolve disputes using a protocol that was established as part of the JP. At the start of the JP there were no higher level education initiatives that promoted peaceful co-existence. The creation of four multifunctional youth centers in the target municipalities led to a large number of inter-ethnic activities of different sorts amongst youth. The curriculum for Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) was introduced for primary and secondary education and includes respect for ethnic, religious and gender diversity. UNESCO created a Chair in Media Dialogue and Mutual understanding at the School of Journalism and a number of activities with the media to address inter-ethnic collaboration and reporting were conducted, resulting on the production of various journalistic products. A Public Response Media Mechanism has brought the journalism and communication community together with civil society to join efforts towards better public discourse around inter-ethnic relations issues, and it is linked to the MSU and the association of journalists. 


Outcome 1:

Key national and local institutions dealing with inter-ethnic relations more effectively built inter-ethnic consensus.

Outcome achievements:

  • The national and local institutions that deal with inter-ethnic relations were strengthened through a consultative and nationally owned process that first identified gaps and then strengthened such institutions through a series of capacity development activities. 60% of stakeholder recommendations were implemented by the JP. This included a better understanding of the laws relating to minority rights, the launch of an alternative dispute resolution system (MSU), the creation of a database of conflict management experts who can quickly resolve tensions and unblock problems. A handbook for dispute resolution was also produced.  When violence broke out last year, the trained experts began to defuse tensions during the course of the JP in their communities.


Outcome 2:

Capacity of the National Education System to Promote and Enhance Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Strengthened.

Outcome achievements:

  • Using the LSBE methodology, 380 secondary school teachers and 1,500 primary school teachers have acquired the skills to teach LSBE. Some 50 schools in the three target municipalities implemented inter-ethnic extracurricular activities including courses in leadership, photography, journalism, theater, animation pottery and much more. UNESCO established 11 clubs at the major universities and institutions and two Chairs (one at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius and the other at the School of Journalism and Public Relation) with the goal of developing the field of inclusive and diversity sensitive journalism and advancing educational offerings for journalists. Some of the clubs actually went a step further to establish municipal youth councils (e.g. Community Development Institute Club) and introduced World Heritage in Young Hands in 11 pilot schools were teachers were trained on using heritage as a tool for intercultural dialogue. Under the activities of the four youth centers, 645 joint activities for ethnically mixed groups were organized and 3,289 children and youth completed the courses offered, that include theatre and drama, art, photography and video, social media, youth entrepreneurship, music and sound, creative workshops, recycle arts, Sports, Dance, and creative computer applications.


Outcome 3:

The media, local and religious leaders, and civil society were enabled to promote and practice cultural sensitivity, awareness and civic identity.

Outcome achievements:

  • The JP enabled local leaders and civil society representatives to build and enhance their skills as dispute resolution practitioners, identified the need to address the quality and standards of journalism and promote ethical journalism. The capacities of media professionals, educators and students to improve the standards of the media to report on diversity responsibly, were enhanced.  Notably, 5,385 people (44% women, and 45% representative of non-majority groups) participated in the various processes and activities in the three municipalities (leadership, communication skills, dispute resolution, local development activities, etc.). 53 events of various types (conference, round-table, workshops, forum, knowledge cafes) were organized to raise awareness on inter-cultural and inter-religious sensitivity. 544 participants attended culturally and conflict sensitive media education events (journalists and students of journalism). 11 hours of TV, radio and news programme were produced to reduce social tensions and a media rapid response and monitoring platform was established and published on-line.


Best practices:

  • Constant communication between agencies is instrumental to successful JP delivery. The importance of ensuring quality and continuous joint communications and advocacy was found to be very beneficial in reinforcing the programme’s identity and building a sense of belonging. This was supported by a jointly agreed communications strategy that was budgeted appropriately. The 4% budgeted by the JP for coordination was an adequate amount.


Lessons learned:

  • Setting up good workable governance structures for the JP is critical. Having a coordination and monitoring officer separate from JP management of any one UN implementing agency worked well, but the lack of a management function also diluted the effectiveness of the officer’s role as regards to JP implementation.
  • It is important to have a clear set of priorities and division of labor. The coordination of more than one agency for implementing one activity created unnecessary burdens and transactions costs on agencies, particularly when it was not clear who was the lead agency.

More details can be found in the final project report:

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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Republic of North Macedonia or the lead agency for the programme.

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