Partners for Democratic Change Serbia

Partners Serbia

 

 About the Organization

 

Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Partners Serbia) is a civil society organization devoted to upholding the rule of law, supporting    civil society and institutional development in Serbia and in the region, and building local capacity through a reliance on local expertise. Partners Serbia specializes in the fields of alternative dispute resolution, change and conflict management, rule of law, democracy and human rights and anti-discrimination.

Established in 2008, Partners Serbia has developed a distinctive expertise in mediation training, coaching and mentoring, assisting different institutions, from state bodies to commercial subjects, in developing systems for providing mediation services to their staff and clients. In 2011, with the support from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in cooperation with the World Bank IFC, Partners Serbia implemented the Commercial Mediation Capacity Building project, aimed at improving the use of mediation by business and business associations in Serbia, in order to prevent and resolve internal and external disputes, contributing to a better business and investment climate in Serbia and improved justice system. Building the demand from potential parties to mediation, Partners Serbia engaged mix of large, medium and small firms located in the commercial hubs of Serbia. Based on Partners Serbia 3-stage mediation training program, our work included outreach seminars, mediation skills-building trainings for business stakeholders and various promotional events which created new network of business and legal professionals who understand the benefits of making decisions in their own disputes through mediation. The ground was also set for the first in-house mediation systems to be developed in interested business enterprises. As a result, leading corporations and business associations representing significant investments in the economic development of Serbia indicated a keen interest in mediation.  

Currently, through a project supported by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Partners Serbia works with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia on supporting its Center for Services and Mediation in providing for services of institutional mediation in financial restructuring processes, with the overall goal of improving the business, finncial and investment environment in Serbia. Partners Serbia also works on promoting and enabling the use of mediation in addressing discrimination in Serbia and, together with the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, develops a mediation case management system within this institution. As a part of the PTAPS project, a specialized model of mediation suitable for discrimination cases has been developed, as first of this kind in Europe. With the support of Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade, and in cooperation with the Municipality of Vozdovac, Partners Serbia is establishing the first Community Mediation Center in the country.

Recently, Partners Serbia Director, Blazo Nedic, spent a month-long fellowship in San Francisco with the JAMS Foundation, the biggest private ADR provider in the world, handling an average of more than 10,000 cases per year. Cooperation between Partners Serbia and JAMS continues with the goal of contributing to further promotion of mediation and other ADR mechanisms, including development of advanced training courses and ADR curriculum for legal professionals, as well as providing mediation and other ADR services in Serbia and the Region. Partners Serbia staff members are also appointed as regional mediators of the World Bank Group for Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bulgaria, and provide regular pro-bono mediation and other legal aid services to indigent population.

Partners Serbia provides legislative drafting assistance to the Ministry of Justice of Serbia by participating in the working groups drafting the new Law on Free Legal Aid and Law on Mediation. Partners Serbia staff members also specialize as experienced trainers, delivering regular training sessions, mentoring, and coaching services in mediation, facilitation, collaborative advocacy, and substantive legal areas, such as personal data protection.

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 Important Projects and Activities

  • Improving citizens’ access to justice by supporting the Kraljevo District Court Mediation Center, through support from the Canada-Serbia Rule of Law Project, funded by CIDA;
  • Building capacity of corporate attorneys and commercial companies to use mediation in resolving commercial disputes, through a project implemented in cooperation with the World Bank IFC and supported by the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • Supporting the Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination in Serbia by building the capacity of attorneys, CSOs and other legal-aid providers to properly address and resolve discrimination cases through the use mediation, through a project funded by the EU Delegation in Serbia;
  • With the support of the EU TACSO in Serbia, creating a network of organizations promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (ADR Network), aimed at lobbying the Government of Serbia to accept and promote ADR methods, and ADR Pledge;
  • Improving the efficiency of the criminal justice system and promoting restorative justice principles through better implementation of the principles of Prosecutorial Opportunity (prosecutorial discretion), in cooperation with the Association of Public Prosecutors of Serbia and with support from the Balkan Trust for Democracy, through a grant from the Embassy of Netherlands in Serbia;
  • Supporting implementation of new Criminal Procedure Code, through training of attorneys and attorney trainees in Serbia, in partnership with American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative and with the support of U.S. Department of State – Bureau for International narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL);
  • Establishing a pilot Free Legal Aid system in south Serbia in cooperation with the bar association of Nis and the Municipality of Bujanovac, through a project funded by the Berlin-based organization CSSP and funded by the Austrian Development Agency and British Embassy in Belgrade;
  • Supporting implementation of the Personal Data Protection Law throughout the country working with the Commissioner for Public Information and Personal Data Protection, by training CSOs, media representatives, state institutions, local governments, and other legal-aid providers to ensure protection of citizens’ privacy in accordance with the highest international standards, in a project funded by the Fund for an Open Society-Serbia, the IREX-USAID Media Assistance Program, the Delegation of European Union to the Republic of Serbia and USAID Judicial Reform and Government Accountability Project (JRGA);
  • Supporting a comprehensive community-based system to fight against corruption on the basis of active civil society participation and implementation of international strategies, through a project implemented in cooperation with the Law Scanner and supported by the Delegation of the EU to Serbia and Government of Republic of Serbia, Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society;
  • Supporting the effective implementation of the Consensual Financial Restructuring Law in Serbia, by increasing capacities of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia to promote and implement procedures of consensual financial restructuring, throug a technical assistance project funded by the EBRD;
  • Supporting five Local Ombudsman offices to provide mediation services to citizens, and establishing the first Community Mediation Center in Serbia, in the Municipality of Vozdovac, through a project funded by the Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade.

 Membership

Partners Serbia is a member of international network Partners for Democratic Change International (PDCI). This network has a 20-year track record of unparalleled success in promoting democracy and human rights, strengthening local organizations in transitioning countries to become sustainable, effective partners to other social sectors in creating good governance and a culture of democratic, peaceful change management. Through 19 independent local centers worldwide (www.partnersglobal.org), PDCI is able to implement local and transnational initiatives, and has worked in over 50 countries to strengthen citizen participation, good governance, empowerment of the disadvantaged, and the rule of law.

 Download Partners Serbia Capacity Statement JULY 2015 ENG