Response to statements regarding CEKOR in the Serbian media
Advocacy letter | 7 June 2016
CEKOR, as a non-governmental watchdog organisation, has since 1999 strived to promote sustainable development in Serbia and has a strong track record in supporting local communities harmed by development projects to advocate for their rights.
Both CEKOR and CEE Bankwatch Network, of which CEKOR is a member, are non-profit, non-partisan organisations who work to prevent negative consequences of international public development financing. As part of this work, CEKOR and CEE Bankwatch has assisted communities affected by the Gazela Bridge reconstruction in Belgrade and the operations of the Kolubara coal mine to use their rights guaranteed by either the Serbian consititution or international treaties or policies.
These experiences have shown that even the involvement of experienced international institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is no guarantee that projects will not cause harm to local people and the environment, and CEKOR and CEE Bankwatch have acted as a bridge between local communities and the international financial institutions to bring public grievances to light and seek satisfactory solutions.
Within the last year or so, it has become clear that many people in Drmno are in danger of suffering a similar fate to those in Vreoci and other villages in the Kolubara basin. Some of these people have for years been promised resettlement while others have received no assurances at all that action will be taken to ensure that they no longer have to endure a constantly noisy, dusty and dangerous environment. A number of people from Drmno have therefore requested assistance from CEKOR in asserting their right to a healthy and safe environment.
People from Drmno have every right to organise themselves to achieve their goals, with or without CEKOR’s help, and through formal channels or informal channels. This is called Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly, and it is enshrined in the UN Convention on Human Rights.
CEKOR, as any other civil society organisation, has every right to raise its concerns about the situation in Drmno. This is the whole point of civil society: to draw attention to the issues left behind by governments and companies and work towards adequate solutions. Only through accepting that every process has flaws and that inclusion of more points of view leads to better decision-making will our countries become more pleasant and sustainable places to live.