In 1997, the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy was invited into Bosnia by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is the organization that is responsible for the implementation of the civilian side of the Dayton Peace Accords. In June 1997, with support from the OSCE, and the United States Information Service (USIS), the Institute carried out four one- to two-day peacebuilding trainings for sixty-eight participants from Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar, and Zenica. The training team included Louise Diamond, Project Director and President Emeritus of IMTD; Jonathan Reitman, Project Co-director; and Roger Chamberlain, IMTD consultant.
Louise Diamond and John McDonald visited BiH in August 1997, at the behest of the OSCE and with their strong support. Their goal was to conduct follow-up sessions with the participants of the June training programs in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution. Together, they held evaluation meetings with participants in four sites: Tuzla, Banja Luka, Bihac, and Sarajevo.
In February 1998, Louise Diamond and Jonathan Reitman conducted a two-week needs assessment trip to Bosnia. With the invaluable assistance of IMTD consultants Richard Moon and Jamie Spector, the assessment team held a series of consultations with key international and local figures involved in various aspects of political and social reconstruction in BH. In addition, the team facilitated a number of short workshops with local and international actors on subjects related to social peacebuilding.
The Institute’s work in Bosnia and Herzegovina expanded tremendously in 1999. Louise Diamond designed a Youth Leadership Adventure program for Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim youth between the ages of 17 and 26, which was funded by a generous individual committed to building peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dan Whalen. The overall aim of this project was to prepare a group of young people to be visible and active models of peace leadership in their own communities. This is needed in order to develop a strong local capacity for democratic leadership that can guide the transition to a democratic and transparent society.
In August/September 1999 IMTD brought 37 young people to the United States, where they participated in a two-and-a-half-week leadership training in Washington, DC and in northern Minnesota. Most of these two-and-a-half-weeks took place at Lake Trails Base Camp on Oak Island in Lake of the Woods, northern Minnesota. The group studied the concepts of peace leadership, project development and implementation, budget planning, and presentation skills. The young people learned about the transformative journey of a peacebuilder through unique activities such as Aikido, drumming, and firewalking. They also took a five-day canoe trip, which taught them about their own physical and mental strengths, and the need for teamwork in order to achieve common goals and overcome obstacles.
Following the camp, from August 1999 to August 2000, the participants implemented their own peacebuilding projects in their communities with the assistance and guidance of Nesto Vise, our Sarajevo-based partner organization, and IMTD staff. There were 20 different projects, ranging from conflict resolution training workshops and establishing a kindergarten, to publishing a youth magazine. Some of the projects have been completed, some we hope will be able to secure funding from other sources, and others are slowly but surely becoming self-sustainable. In August 2000, a second group of young Bosnians traveled to Lake Trails.