For their dedication to a long-term process of peace-building and reconciliation in the Balkans.
Vesna Terselic is a social activist who has aided Croatia’s transition from war to democracy. She received the 1998 Right Livelihood Award along with Katarina Kruhonja of the Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights in Osijek. Together, they were among the leaders of a peace movement that was the most active part of the emerging civil society in Croatia in the 1990s.
As the National Coordination of the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK), which she helped found, Terselic worked on education for non-violent conflict transformation, human rights protection, social reconstruction and reconciliation. ARK has also supported refugees and displaced persons and helped those unemployed, bereaved and severely traumatised by the war. The organisation soon developed over a dozen centres where different aspects of these activities were pursued.
Terselic and Kruhonja’s commitment along with the many organisations and activities which they have helped to inspire have significantly aided the transition from war and ethnic division to democracy, justice, non-violence and peaceful cohabitation.
Vesna Terselic began her activist by being involved in street theatre and then, intensively, with environmental issues. In 1991, she was largely responsible for founding the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK) and was its National Coordinator.
Her work has been often intertwined with that of Katarina Kruhonja, the Director of the Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights in Osijek in the East Slavonia region of Croatia. She is a physician and was the senior nationally recognised specialist in nuclear medicine in Osijek hospital. The Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights was founded in 1992 and was initially part of the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK). It became formally independent of ARK in 1993 but still remaining a "collective member" of it.
ARK is now a network of over a dozen local and specialised organisations, a peace movement that is the most active part of the emerging civil society in Croatia.
ARK is concerned with, among other things, education for non-violent conflict transformation, human rights protection, social reconstruction and reconciliation, support for refugees and displaced persons, help for the unemployed and the bereaved and those severely traumatised by war, the promotion of conscientious objections and the promotion of a civil rather than a military service corps. There are now well over a dozen centres where different aspects of these activities are pursued.
The Centre in Osijek has also made a major contribution to peace-building in the region. From its activities, several independent peace groups have been established. The main activities of the Centre are the protection of human rights; peace education, organising seminars and workshops for primary school teachers and children; and post-war peace-building, including psycho-social support to the wounded population and preparing the ground for the return of displaced persons and refugees. There have been also a number of projects intended to bring people together and rebuild confidence across the ethnic divides.
As a result of work facilitated by Terselic and Kruhonja, in March 1996 three organisations from Serbia and eight others from Croatia came together to form the Coordination of Peace Organisations for East Slavonia, Baranja and West Sirmium, which has made a major contribution to the prevention of a mass migration of Serbs out of the region, their integration in the Republic of Croatia, the prevention of incidents and violence and the processes of rebuilding trust between divided ethnic groups.
In order to initiate the process of dealing with the past and the establishment of factual truth about the war, the Center of Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights Osijek, the Center for Peace Studies, the Civic Council for Human Rights, and the Croatian Helsinki Committee established DOCUMENTA, a Centre for Dealing with the Past, in 2004. The key reason for establishing this centre was the experience of suppression and falsification of war crimes and other war events in the Balkans' recent history. Terselic is the director of DOCUMENTA.
These two women's commitment and the many organisations and activities which they have helped inspire have significantly increased helped the transition from war and ethnic division to democracy, justice, non-violence and peaceful cohabitation in Croatia.