Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past

Contact Information

Areas of Expertise

Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past has expertise in a range of areas, including:

Main Aims and Objectives

Documenta’s main objectives are:

  • 1. Deepening and intensifying of public dialogue on dealing with the past, as well as public and judicial initiatives related to documenting of facts on war crimes, criminal prosecution of war crimes, compensation for harm inflicted by war crimes, teaching of history and culture of memory;
  • 2. Systematic collection of materials on war-related events, personal memories of war and work of human rights organizations;
  • 3. Systematic monitoring of court trials for war crimes, reporting on court trials in the Republic of Croatia and the region and advocacy of improvement of the witness support system.

Upholding the Principles of Conflict Transformation

Since its establishment in 2004, Documenta aims to develop social and individual processes of dealing with the past in order to build sustainable peace in Croatia and the wider region through deepening of public dialogue and initiating debate on public policies which stimulate dealing with the past; gathering and publishing documentation and research of war incidents and their assumptions, war crimes and violations of human rights; as well as monitoring judicial processes at a local and regional level as a contribution to the advancement of judicial standards and practice in the processing of war crimes. Since 2006, Documenta has worked on building and strengthening a regional civil society coalition representing key stakeholders from post-Yugoslav countries for regional post-conflict truth-seeking and truth-telling to complement the work of the Hague Tribunal, and national courts that prosecute war crimes in order to sensitize the public and national governments on the need for justice for victims and need for regional post-conflict fact-finding and truth-telling.

Where and with Whom

In order to achieve its goals, Documenta cooperates with its founding organizations, associations of families of the missing people, other civic initiatives, governmental institutions, international institutions and organizations, institutions of state and local government, academic institutions, religious groups, the media and other interested individuals. Documenta’s work is focused on the entire territory of Croatia and the former Yugoslavia (Western Balkans region).

Main Activities in the Field of Conflict Transformation

Documenta wants to initiate and strengthen personal and social processes of dealing with the past, which are important preconditions for building sustainable peace and social stability. Documenta has prepared a project of semi-structured interviews using the oral history method, with the goal of collecting individual oral testimonies of war and other forms of political violence from 1941 until today.Through a series of educational study visits in Croatia and the neighbouring countries to sites marking traumatic events from the period 1941–1999, Documenta wants to make a contribution to the acknowledgement of suffering of all victims by enlarging the group of individuals who are well informed and interested in a public debate on the appropriate ways of commemorating different sites of past violence. Documenta’s aim is to systematically learn about practices of commemorative culture in Croatia and the wider region, to initiate public dialogue on the culture of remembering and to strengthen a team of experts interested in dealing with the past in particular countries.

The starting point in Documenta’s research is the assumption that it is necessary to establish facts about all victims, regardless of their ethnic or social group, political affiliation or status. While documenting human losses, Documenta employs appropriate scientifically-based methodology and contemporary research techniques. Documenta wants to pay its respects to victims of war by making possible that their names and conditions in which they suffered war-related violence are made known, regardless of what ethnic or religious group they belonged to, or what political idea or ideology they supported. Documenta believes that every society has a responsibility to raise awareness on the fact that victims of war violence are not just numbers, but people with first and last names. The main goals of the project are to determine the number of victims of the 1991-1995 war, as completely as possible, as well as the facts on the conditions in which they suffered war-related violence and to ensure a publicly accessible data base which would contain relevant information.

The Coalition for RECOM is a non-political, regional group of civil society organizations. It consists of a network of non-governmental organizations, associations of individuals who represent and affirm the Initiative for RECOM, in order to establish a regional and independent commission with the mandate to establish and make publicly known facts on war crimes and other serious violations of human rights, as well as to illuminate the destiny of the people missing in the 1991-2001 wars on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The coalition is organizing and holding consultations on the Initiative for RECOM, as well as on the RECOM Statute, in all Yugoslav successor states.

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