In July 2022, The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) convened a Citizens’ Forum on Responsible Social Media Discourse in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) in July 2022.
This was convened to counter significant problems being faced by BiH in the lead up to national elections – where social media was being used to spread hate speech, misinformation and to try and skew election outcomes. To support the process, democracyCo was engaged as lead designers.
We led the design of the facilitation approach and also led the facilitation team – which came from multiple countries and spoke various languages. We spent many hours with the project team considering the scope and remit of the project, and also planning the structure of the Citizens’ charter that the assembly would ultimately write together.
We provided advice on the approach to recruitment and the diversity sought through the recruitment process. We worked with the project team to plan their approach to advocacy.
A central part of our role was training, coaching and mentoring the facilitation team – many of whom had never experienced a deliberative process. We spent 2 days in Sarajevo with the team, training and coaching them, and together finalising the facilitation program. During the Assembly itself, we supported the facilitators to deliver the program, adjust and flex to meet the needs and pace of the group.
“I am amazed and impressed with how much was done and achieved within such a short period of time. The contribution citizens gave exceeded by expectations in terms of their understanding of the topics, knowledge on the social media and their impact, even the rather professional vocabulary used in their outputs is indicative of the high potential citizens hold to make very strong contribution in similar actions.”
~ Expert Witness
The Citizens Assembly produced a Citizens Charter on social media discourse which has been presented to all political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to social media organisations. The charter has also been provided to the European Union and the Office of the Higher Representative in BiH – to demonstrate the capability, wisdom and will of the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
“We have tried to set the basic norms in the behaviour of citizens, to aware them in this way and to encourage them to think better about their behaviour towards themselves and other citizens of BiH.”
“We took a topic, that people didn’t know much about, and they made a great suite of recommendations that make sense and are useful. There is often a bias towards political elites, but citizens can make recommendations that are just as good, if not better than elites.”