The ICIP Governing Board decided to award the 2013 ICIP Constructors of Peace Prize to Jovan Divjak, “for his courage, as a military man, to disobey the commands of the Yugoslav People’s Army and defend Sarajevo during the siege of the Balkan War, and subsequently, for his long-standing civic work, with various initiatives in favour of the victims of war”.
From general to peacebuilder
Jovan Divjak was born in Belgrade in 1937 to a Serbian family originally from the Bosanska Krajina region. In the spring of 1992, when the Siege of Sarajevo began, Divjak was ordered by Belgrade to leave the city. He refused and left the Yugoslav People’s Army to serve as a commander in the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in an act of disobedience and commitment to those suffering from aggression. From this new position, Divjak oversaw and coordinated the defense of Sarajevo – symbol of multi-ethnicity – in front of the attack by Serbian troops led by General Radovan Karadzic.
For this courageous attitude, he has been known as the Serbian one who defended Sarajevo, although he defines himself as a Bosnian born in Belgrade, and is considered a national hero in Bosnia.
After retiring from the military career in 1994, Divjak participated in the foundation of the association OGBH (“Education builds Bosnia and Herzegovina”), of which he is currently the executive director. The association works to ensure the high school of all children who are victims of the Bosnian war, regardless of ethnicity, by providing grants and material support. For his work in the association, Divjak has received numerous local and international recognitions.
The ICIP Peace in Progress Award is an annual award consisting of a public recognition, a sculpture created by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, artist and activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, called the Porta del Sol, and an economic endowment of .4,000.