By Sara Pieraccioni
Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development (ALVED) is a two-year project implemented by the Peaceful Change initiative and People in Need (PIN) and funded by the UK government, which aims to support municipal-level mechanisms in Kosovo and Serbia to contribute to fair distribution resources and help communities and ethnic minorities enjoy their rights as citizens.
At the beginning of 2020, PIN and its partners conducted various activities to help non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo more effectively advocate for the local-level services to which they are entitled, as well as to strengthen participatory approaches to local service delivery to increase inclusivity and partnership between civil society and municipalities.
As part of its work to enable more inclusive service delivery and decision making, the Amplifying local voices project is looking to developing a communication strategy that disseminate positive discourses that celebrate diversity and expertise, whilst incorporating different perspectives on subjects; amplify positive stories of change at the local level; and counter narratives of hate speech, prejudice and stereotyping.
Media Consultation Dialogues are an integral part of the ALVED project, and consist of dialogues that bring together media experts, journalists, editors, representatives of civil society and institutions in constructive dialogues on crucial topics both in Kosovo and in Serbia. The aim is to spread positive stories against intolerance and to closely examine the work of media regulators.
To date, three Media Consultation Dialogue have been held. The first Dialogue ended with the understanding that media regulatory bodies work didn’t contribute enough to the elimination of hate speech and “othering” in the media. The second Consultation Dialogue then closely examined the work of media regulators in Kosovo and Serbia, in particular on the difference between their work as established by law and the difference between the theory and practice of their work. In the third Dialogue, the discussion focused on a universally acknowledged belief by all participants that empathy for “the other” is very conspicuous by its absence.
The work done does not yet amount as sufficient for the building of a healthy dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, but the attempts made so far and its reception from local communities give hope for an improvement in the long term.
Cover image: Allan Leonard, Flickr