14 September, 2022

Citizens’ Charter on responsible social media conduct in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In early July 2022 we organised the democratic lottery for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD).  HD is a "private diplomacy organisation founded on the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. [Their] mission is to help prevent, mitigate, and resolve armed conflict through dialogue and mediation."

HD is particularly active in areas which are currently, or have been recently, in conflict. They sought our support to run the democratic lottery for a deliberative process that they held in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). 

The specific task in this case was to facilitate a Citizens’ Charter on responsible social media conduct in BiH ahead of general elections in October. In order to do this, HD wanted to get 50 citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina into a room to participate in a facilitated discussion around what constitutes good (and bad) conduct on social media. 

In order for this process to be effective and legitimate it was vital that the 50 citizens were drawn from a wide cross-section of the BiH population. Particularly important, given the recent history of conflict in BiH, was good representation for the various ethnic groups that make up the BiH population including Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs. In order to achieve this, HD had put a call out via social media, through as many channels as they could manage, asking people to register their interest in participating in drawing up the charter. More than 350 people registered their interest.

This was where we came in: the oversight group for the process had a set of demographic targets for the 50 participants that needed to be met in order to ensure diverse representation. These demographic targets included age, gender, ethnicity, educational qualifications and locality. As part of the registration process people had given their information for each of these categories and this allowed us to run our software and produce a fair, random and stratified selection that met all the targets.

Staff at HD then contacted the 50 selected people to confirm their participation. In the process a number of people dropped out and we performed a couple more "mini-selections" to ensure that these people were replaced in such a way that the diversity was maintained and all the demographic targets continued to be met!

The 50 people came together during July in a process facilitated by DemocracyCo, global specialists in citizen deliberation. The process was successful in drawing up a charter, the full text of which is available online. HD is now conducting follow-up work as they seek commitments from the major parties in BiH to abide by the charter in their campaigning for the elections in October.

The collaboration between ourselves and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue was rewarding and successful and we anticipate more in the future. We see great potential for citizens' panels to help resolve conflict and to foster positive dialogue in the wake of conflict.



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