Croatia: Closing the Chapter: Social Inclusion and Conflict Transformation in War-Affected Areas of Croatia


More than 20 years after Croatia's war of independence, many communities there still suffer the social exclusion and economic deprivation characteristic of war-affected areas. The joint programme was designed to tackle the endemic social, economic and political marginalization of returnees, minorities, veterans and economically-disempowered women whose exclusion most jeopardizes peaceful coexistence and sustainable return, and risks cementing the emergence of ‘Two Croatias’; one relatively well off, vibrant and Euro-centric; the other home to the poor, disempowered and excluded. 

The UN in Croatia came together to design a model that other Middle Income Countries with post-conflict dynamics in the region can replicate. The Programme employed a root cause methodology that pioneered the integration of community decision-making into socio-economic recovery efforts in war-affected areas.
By identifying projects with shared needs and interests, peace building was introduced into existing local structures that provide social services, education, community policing, justice, and job creation. Nationally owned at all levels, coordination was institutionalized by the Deputy Prime Minister's offices responsible for return, security and regional development.

The programme focused on groups most in need, including: returnees facing institutional and human obstacles to reintegration; women facing the risk of violence, exclusion and structural unemployment; war veterans facing social exclusion and at risk of committing violence; and children and youth facing exposure to prejudice and intolerance, and at risk of violence. 

Main achievements included:

  • More than 19,700 men and nearly 21,000 women directly benefited from the programme, as did 29 national institutions and 406 local institutions.

  • Community integration, safety and social cohesion were enhanced through the development of 10 Safe-Community Plans.  These plans, designed by Crime Prevention Councils, focused on common problems affecting communities such as traffic safety, education on alcohol abuse and refurbishing community centers, and are sustainable mechanisms for communities to jointly discuss, analyze and agree courses of action to improve safety and security. 

  • The programme had a strong gender equality component, supporting relevant legal frameworks, national strategies and substantive projects that targeted women at high risk of poverty and violence, particularly those in rural areas with lower levels of education and those living in areas of former conflict.

  • A coordination mechanism for regional development of war affected areas and violence prevention was established under the office of the Vice Prime Minister. This included six ‘Witness and Victims Support’ offices which reached several thousand beneficiaries.

  • 71% of requests for free legal aid were approved, showing an improvement in the implementation of fundamental rights for returnees.

  • More than 4,500 students, teachers and school experts participated in violence prevention workshops that were held in 11 elementary schools in six counties.

  • The JP also reached many returnees, women, youth, and war veterans through job creation and business development projects. For example, 50 Cooperatives, associations and family farms improved business processes and access to market through programme-supported assessment, training and communications efforts.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programme in Croatia.



Programme Dates 15 May 2009 - 13 May 2011
Net funded amount $2,981,155
Participating UN agencies IOM, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF
National partners Office of the Vice Prime Minister, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Family, War Veterans and Intergenerational Solidarity, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Ministry of Regional Development, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Tourism, Office for Gender Equality & Gender Task Force, Police Service, National Centre for External Valuation of Education, Social Welfare services
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