Nedžad Novalić
Country/region: Western Balkan (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia)
Conflict: Ethnic conflict
Organisation: Centre for Nonviolent Action
Field of work: Postwar reconciliation, peacebuilding education, memorialization
The Centre for Nonviolent Action (CAN) was founded in 1997 in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. CNA is a peace organisation with offices in Sarajevo and Belgrade that has been dedicated to peacebuilding in the Western Balkans for more than 25 years. Respecting all victims, abandoning hatred, recognising everyone’s suffering is where we see common ground for dialogue and understanding between people who were involved in various ways in the conflicts in the Western Balkans from 1991 to 2001 (the wars in Croatia, BiH, Kosovo, and Macedonia).
CNA is a grassroots organisation seeking to involve victims’ associations, religious leaders, the academic community and historians in peacebuilding. We also have long-standing cooperation with war veterans whose war experience, as well as their dedication to anti-war activism is particularly important and valuable to our work. Some of the other areas of our activities over the years include peacebuilding trainings focusing on dealing with the past, inclusive memorialization, advocating for all victims, whatever their ethnicity, to be treated with dignity, working to deconstruct narratives and historical myths that serve to fuel wars.
Nedžad Novalić started working with CNA in 2012 and joined the organisation as a permanent team member in 2017. Previously, he worked as a reporter and editor for various media outlets in BiH, mostly on issues of domestic and regional politics.
The war in BiH marked people’s lives at various levels, but Nedžad remembers the war from the time that he was a child. The experience of losing loved ones, family members fighting in the war, and the extensive suffering brought on by war to both adults and children were perhaps decisive for his decision to turn to peace activism. While studying the contemporary history of BiH at the University of Sarajevo, he was particularly interested in topics of national identity, historical myths and narratives, and generally the misuse of history in post-war societies such as BiH. Since ethnic identity in the Balkans often overlaps with religious identity, as someone for whom religious identity is an important aspect of his overall identity, he actively examines the role of religion and religious communities not just in war, but also in peacebuilding.
At CNA, he is particularly active in programmes of cooperation with historians, as well as the programme of cooperation with war veterans in the field of peacebuilding.