Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Operation Storm

Zagreb, July 29, 2020.


President Milanović,

The 25th anniversary of the Operation Storm is coming soon. In our appeal, among other things, we are proposing that during your introductory speech, you also mention human rights violations which happened during and after Operation Storm. This way, you will act justly not only towards the victims whose rights are not satisfied to this day, and present to the public a complete account of the events during and after the Operation Storm, highlighting not only its positive sides but also the negative side representing the crimes for which to this day there is no legal epilogue.

Also, in the following paragraphs we will point out the challenges Croatia is still facing in the context of unrealized transitional justice mechanisms, which you can actively influence as the head of the state.

Despite the fact that the Croatian territory has been reintegrated as a consequence of the Operation Storm, Croatian citizens who have been forcefully displaced in most cases did not return, and for that reason, reintegration was not entirely accomplished. It is important that you speak about this publicly and that you do not forget that one of the core values upon which the Croatian Constitution is built is the national equality. 

During your pre-election campaign, you highlighted the importance of respecting human rights, togetherness, and mutual respect, and we hope that you will not give up on these promises during your presidential term.

Out of all successor countries of Yugoslavia, aside from Slovenia, only Croatia is a part of the European Union. Use this accomplished political success for Croatia to be a role-model to our neighbors on how to invest in values on which the European Union is built, especially in the higher standard of human rights and rule of law. Initiate the establishment of the regional commission for the establishment of facts about war crimes and other serious violations of human rights (RECOM). Make Croatia a Country that is known throughout the region, Europe and the rest of the world for the successful peace-building, and not for insisting on relativization of war crimes and criminals.

Invest the funds and personally participate in commemorations and marking the unmarked places of suffering and human rights violations. Do this in cooperation with representatives of the victims and in their presence. Civil victims of law are not discerned per their ethnic origin, but per the fact, if their rights are acknowledged or not.

Oblige to celebrate anniversaries of the treaty on basis of which the peaceful reintegration was established and contribute to preserving the memory of activists for peace – it is important that we as a nation are proud of the bravery of those who built and tried to preserve peace. Do not forget that peace-building is our Constitutional value.

Hate speech and crimes motivated by hatred in which violence toward Serbs is encouraged are no longer an exception in our daily lives, but rather a rule which points up towards increasing intolerance. These are also the consequences of the mythologized role of Croatia in the wars during the 90’s. In your public appeals, insist that the blame for the crimes is established on an individual basis. Point out that there is no collective national responsibility for crimes, but that as a society we need to invest in curing the collective trauma caused by the severe consequences of war. You will be able to give these contributions during bilateral and multilateral meetings with representatives of neighboring countries in which it is important to clearly and unequivocally speak about the importance of reconciliation for accomplishing the better future of all people who live in these areas.

Contribute to changing the dominant nationalistic narrative about the events of the 90’s and influence the development of a shared narrative with a focus on the victims. History has taught us that acknowledgment, and not denial, relativization and compensation, will help to heal the post-conflict society.

Take away the official decorations of the Republic of Croatia from the convicted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and national courts. This way you will not only return the reputation to those who earned these decorations with they behaviour and respect towards the international humanitarian law, but also show that you are conscious and acknowledge the fact that war crimes done by the Croatian army and armed formations are not political constructs of plaintiffs, and court committees of ICTY, but the harsh reality of Croatian history.

Do not leave coping with the past of the ’90s to the advocacy efforts of the few non-governmental organizations, but rather use the historical role, duty and responsibility you have and apologize for the crimes done in the name of the Republic of Croatia.

We hope that you will invest the effort to contribute to the establishment of our requests so that you would not be one of those public officials who did not recognize the importance or did not invest the appropriate energy to change the dominant nationalist narrative about the wars of ’90s. Be determined not to leave the future generations with the inheritance of not coping with the consequence of the cowardice of those whose duty was to lead this country toward peace, and not toward conflicts.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights

Call for mentors in CSOs: Share your knowledge, engage the youth!

Hello to all of you in CSOs!

We developed an apprenticeship model based on CSO needs – apply now!

Use our support for designing a mentoring program specialized for your organization – useful for preparing new people and first job seekers coming to work in your organization on concrete positions.


Why did we create this?

A survey done on 85 CSOs in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia, the organizers of the apprenticeship program (Social Innovators project partners) revealed that CSOs in these three countries are understaffed and have a big need for creating new jobs and hiring more staff to secure the implementation of their projects and to work on their mission.

As the skills which CSOs as employers value the most are:

willingness to learn, 


written communication, 

critical thinking 


The main goal of Apprenticeship is bipartite:

  • to endow future workers with formal and nonformal knowledge and skills specialized for working in CSOs
  • give an opportunity to first-time job seekers for gaining valuable and concrete knowledge and skills for the specific workplace in order to make them fully prepared for workload in CSOs


Civil society organisations will have the opportunity to provide young people work experience and give them the opportunity to get involved in some of the most relevant initiatives and programs that address social challenges in Europe today.

This innovative model has the potential to simultaneously address the challenges of high youth unemployment rate and low employment rates in the CSO sector, the challenge of a huge loss of human resources and missed opportunities for greater contribution to social transformation!

Apprenticeship for young apprentices will provide an opportunity for learning through imitation of the mentor and evaluation of work quality through practice.


What Apprenticeship program includes?

→ 80 hours duration of training for the apprentices

→ financial compensation for the mentors

The four main types of activities provided to apprentices are:



Do applicants apply for learning for a particular position or for work in CSO generally?

Applicants will have the opportunity to apply for training in order to gain knowledge and skills for a particular position in your respective organisation.

Possibilities for different specializations, depending on different types of training CSOs can offer are as it follows:

→ Project management officer,

→ Administration officer/Office Manager

→ Communication officer,

→ Advocacy officer/Specific thematic area expertise officer / Program coordinator

→ Trainers/Education staff


What kind of responsibilities will a mentor have?

We encourage organisations to appoint a mentor for the apprentice. The mentor should be a suitable colleague within the employing organisation. We define mentoring as The learning and development partnership between somebody who has the experience and somebody who wants to learn.

Responsibilities of the mentor include: attending the two-day training that will be announced in advance, developing a apprenticeship program during a training, adapted to the needs and resources of the CSO as well as the needs of the apprentice, agreeing on the apprenticeship program with the apprentice, evaluation of the matching after the completion of the apprenticeship, sharing own experience and examples and support different ways of thinking by offering new perspectives as well as assisting the apprentice to develop self-reflective skills, providing guidance on the process of coming to conclusions, by thinking through the implications.

Please share the link to this call on your webpages and social media accounts so interested future apprentices may have information on how to become part of the CSO community.



Apply by February 28, 2020.




The Social Innovators project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.

Working Together for a Green, Competitive and Inclusive Europe.

A Successful Opening of the YIHR.hub and Birthday Celebration

A new space dedicated for civil society organisations, informal citizen initiatives and others free of charge – the YIHR.hub at Đorđićeva 8a in Zagreb was officialy launched on November 28. The celebration was twofold: together with the hub opening, we celebrated the 11th birthday of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights. More than 100 CSOs, media, and college staff and students, as well as our associates and volunteers attended the event. The report from the event (in Croatian) in Novosti journal can be read here. The hub opening and the Social Innovators project was also covered on a radio show on Yammat (in Croatian – listen to it here).

The YIHR.hub opening started with the Social Innovators project presentation. The project, dedicated to addressing the unemployment of humanities and social science students, as well as increasing interest in working in the civil society organisations, is the main framework under which the YIHR.hub was launched. This is why we also discussed other project activities complementary to the hub such as the CSO Apprenticeship model and a new educational programme focused on the topic of social innovations, that is developed together with our partners from the National Management School (Bulgaria), PiNA (Slovenia), and Østfold University College (Norway).

After the Social Innovators project presentations, we hosted a panel “Deconstruction of Social Innovations – the return of the underrated!”, moderated by our Nikola Puharić. The panelists were Gabrijela Ivanov (K-zona, FierceWomen), Tena Šojer Keser (Netokracija), and Eugen Vuković (Zelena akcija, Biciklopopravljaona). The panelists shared their formative experiences in civil society organisations and IT sector, discussed the potential for social innovations, and shared their perspective on activities planned within the Social Innovators project.

The dinner was followed by the music programme performed by the Domaćigosti choir, which served as an opening for the Initiative’s birthday celebration. Main speakers were Mario Mažić (Founder), Nikola Puharić (President), and Morana Starčević (Executive Director). The message we sent out was unambiguous: regardless of all difficulties and obstacles, we will not give up the uncompromising struggle for human rights!

We thank all our associates, friends, supporters and volunteers, as well as all others who came to celebrate this important day for us.

An invitation to the YIHR.hub launching event and celebration of Youth Initiative for Human Rights Birthday

Youth Initiative for Human Rights, with regard to its upcoming 11th birthday, officially launches the YIHR.hub – a new, free and exciting co-working space in the Zagreb city center that will be open for civil society organizations, informal initiatives, youth and everyone who wants to change the world!

As a part of the event, the Social Innovators project will be presented, together with a panel discussion focused on increasing the employability of youth with education in humanities and social sciences and popularizing seeking employment in civil society organizations. Youth Initiative for Human Rights will present its work at the reception “11 years of uncompromising struggle for human rights” and mark its 11th year of work.

The event will be held at Đorđićeva 8a (Zagreb), second floor, beginning at 16h.

The representatives of civil society organizations will be able to participate in a discussion about the planned activities of the Social Innovators project, tour the new YIHR.hub and discover ways to get involved. They will discuss how to empower NGOs, increase the employability of youth and develop their skills which will equip them to work in NGOs and alleviate the NGOs in terms of training new workers for the specific challenges of working in civil society organizations.


16:00 – 16:30 YIHR.hub and Social Innovators project Presentation

16:45 – 18:00 Panel discussion: Deconstruction of Social Innovation – the return of the underrated!

18:00 – 19:00 Reception

18:30 – 19:00 Musical performance by Domaćigosti choir

19:00 – 19:30 11 years of uncompromising struggle for human rights – the celebration of the 11th birthday of the Youth initiative for human rights and the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize

We are inviting activists, journalists, NGOs, youth organizations and social entrepreneurs, as well as our associates and friends to join us at one of the events or the whole program, and celebrate with us this important day for the Youth Initiative for Human Rights!


Social Innovators project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment. The project is cofinanced by the Government of the Republic of Croatia Office for Cooperation with NGOs. Project partners are Youth Initiative for Human Rights, PINA Slovenija, National Management School from Bulgaria and Østfold University College from Norway.