September 14, 2022 – Pristina, Kosovo. Early in the morning, Generation 10 of the Vienna Master arrived in the capital of the Republic of Kosovo, the youngest sovereign country in Europe (2008) and the second in the world. The group was to experience an intensive field trip to a post-conflict country as a training on the ground, part of the thematic cluster “Human Rights in the Field”. Shortly after, students from the European Master’s Program in Human Rights and Democratisation (EMA) arrived to share and bask in this extraordinary and unique experience.
Every day, students got the opportunity to expand their knowledge in the field of human rights and democratisation from a former conflict-ridden country. The latter was translated into a handful of profound debates about the human rights situation of Kosovo from different perspectives, through the hand of a wide variety of national and international institutions, such as the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, Eulex and the Humanitarian Law Centre; organizations and initiatives, including Integra, Aktiv, Kosovo 2.0 Online journal, and UN Women Kosovo; local artists via the Dokufest, the Manifesta and the Theater ODA and lastly, renowned politicians, namely, Memil Krasniqi, Chair of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Albulena Haxhiu, the current minister of Justice, and Albin Kurti, the Prime Minister of Kosovo.
Substantial deliberation and conversations around core and current topics arose, such as the women’s situation in the country in terms of equality of rights and opportunities as well as gender violence handling. In the same line, LGBTIQ+ community rights and protection drew the attention of the students multiple times. Kosovo remains mostly traditional, conservative, patriarchal and homophobic. Despite the country is slightly embracing the fundamental rights of this community and becoming more tolerant, these steps are not sufficient. Another interesting topic was child poverty and schooling. Students actively held dialogues and posted questions about the local, national and international efforts to bring all communities together (Albanian, Serbs, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians, Bosniaks, Turks and Gorani), surmount escalating tensions and work towards lasting peace.
To round the experience up, diverse excursions outside Pristina were convened, each of them with its peculiarity and interest for the students, as for example, the Gračanica Monastery, a Serbian Orthodox monastery, Kosovo Polje, a crucial location of key historical junctures of the country, such as the Battle of Kosovo (1389) or the famous Gazimestan speech of Slobodan Milosevic, and Mitrovica North, a so-called divided city.
Alongside, art, as in the master mindset, also had a special place there. The journey concurred with the 14th edition of the Manifesta, the self-styled European Nomadic Biennial. The uniqueness of the event awakened the students’ positive appetite for art, as the Manifesta converges successfully art and human rights. The Nomadic event, sprinkled over Kosovo, uses its art platform in the shape of creative performances, artworks and events to favorably contribute to the awareness and diffusion of human rights. Finally, the group had also the opportunity to talk with young artists and activists and explore their intimate and vivid pieces of art, which also encouraged them to explore and bring to the spotlight their inner artists.