Photo © Klub MASA Mostar
Across the Western Balkans, young people are engaged in or vulnerable to a variety of organized criminal activities, including the cultivation and trafficking of drugs, sex work, trafficking in human beings, extortion and car theft or as foot soldiers for criminal groups. Others decide to leave the country irregularly, are smuggled abroad and get involved in criminal activity, particularly in the EU.
What is the role of Western Balkan youth in organized crime? What factors make them vulnerable? What can be done to get them off the escalator of crime and prevent recidivism?
Although youth in the Western Balkans are exposed to and engaged in organized crime, civil society organizations (CSOs) either run by or working with them can be key sources of community resilience. Youth, generally accepted as people between the ages of 15 and 29, should be considered as an asset rather than a problem: a source of energy, innovation and courage, as well as fresh ideas and approaches to strengthen integrity and reduce the risk posed by organized crime.
The Strengthening resilience of youth to organized crime brief is part of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) ‘Resilient Balkans’ series, which looks at topics of common interest to civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Western Balkans dealing with issues related to organized crime. This brief focuses on what makes youth vulnerable to organized crime in the region and looks at how CSOs are working with youth to strengthen resilience.
This report is an output of the GI-TOC’s Observatory of Illicit Economies in South Eastern Europe and the GI-TOC’s Resilience Fund. The report is based on data, information and analyses collected and shared by civil society actors based in the Western Balkan region
To read the Report, follow this link>>>.
The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) published reports on the experiences and aspirations of youth in Southeast Europe. The FES carried out a representative region-wide survey on a sample of more than 10.000 young people aged 14 – 29 from ten countries in Southeast Europe in early 2018.
“FES Youth Studies Southeast Europe 2018/2019” is an international youth research project carried out simultaneously in ten countries in Southeast Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. The main objective of the surveys has been to identify, describe and analyse attitudes of young people and patterns of behaviour in contemporary society.
A broad range of issues were addressed, including young peoples’ experiences and aspirations in different realms of life, such as education, employment, political participation, family relationships, leisure and use of information and communications technology, but also their values, attitudes and beliefs.
Findings are presented in ten national and one regional study and its accompanying policy papers, which have been published in both English and the respective national languages.
The most important results are grouped under headlines:
- A wish to belong to Europe
- Migration and mobility do not have to be zero-sum
- Fighting corruption as a crime, not as a concept
- Employment discourse shifting towards the quality of work
- A different kind of ‘political’…
- …which has to do with ‘the social’
- Give youth a say in Europeanisation
To download the regional study and its accompanying policy papers following this link>>>
You can read the national studies at this webpage.
The annual drug policy Regional Conference in South East Europe, “Socio-political developments and drug policy in SEE” was organised from 7 to 9 June 2017 in Thessaloniki, Greece. The conference is part of the regional project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South East Europe”, supported financially by the European Commission and the Open Society Foundations. The organiser was Diogenis – Drug Policy Dialogue.
The conference aimed to bring together civil society organisations, policy makers, researchers and lawyers working on the drug issue in the region of South East Europe, but also people active in the field related to cultural change and young people. The meeting was organized in order to discuss drug policy developments and trends, exchange experiences and best practices in the region, Europe and the United Nations.
This year, topics covered recent emerging situations, reflecting the most important areas at the moment, including:
- Refugees, migrants and Drugs, the policy of the competent authorities and the involvement of NGOs. How do the competent authorities address the issue? Which are problematic aspects and how NGOs can contribute to a fair and effective policy? Harm reduction services and Refugees and migrants in countries of South East Europe.
- Youth culture, festivals, drug use and harm reduction in South East Europe: Policy implications for authorities, the festival and party organisers and harm reduction services. Difficulties and legal barriers to implementing harm reduction services. Suggestions for measures to prevent unintended risks. Policy aspects of Youth and festivals and Health protection.
- The evaluation of the Political Declaration 2009 – 2019 and its relation to the UNGASS outcome document. Main issues of discussion and the contribution of NGOs.
- The Follow up of the Harm reduction project in South East Europe. Latest data analysis from the research. Cost-effectiveness analysis of harm reduction services. Approaching local authorities and increase their engagement in the area of HR, including funding opportunities. Budget advocacy and monitoring for harm reduction. Accreditation of the services provided by the civil society organisations.
- Information about Current topics of importance – the regional project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South Eastern Europe”, DPNSEE developments, activities of importance for drug policy in the region of SEE.
The general conclusion from the conference is that a new definition of harm reduction is needed to reflect the current situation and change in drug use, including type and the patterns of drug use.
Other conclusions were proposed on specific issues such as drug checking as potential integrated harm reduction measure in nightlife, which needs to be supported and systematically implemented from the side of the all stakeholders (as the Slovenian case showed its success), designing and implementing specific harm reduction services for immigrants and refugees, etc.
The EU Info Point in Belgrade hosted representatives of 37 youth organisations and organisations for youth from 7 cities in Serbia on 28 March for the “Speed dating” event on EU funds. 9 different EU programmes and 2 national were present. The CU Delegation in Serbia, Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Council supported the event.
Participants got interesting information from EIDHR, The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Civil Society Facility (CSF) , COSME (Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SME), Horizon 2020 (EU programme supports research projects, The Office for Cooperation with Civil Society supports projects (in scope of the programme Europe for Citizens), Creative Europe, Erasmus+, TACSO – Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Media programme and EU Info Point.