Obstacles in Work: Situations

Materials: Handouts with situations


Exercise description

Divide into three groups. Each small group is given two situation scenarios (of the three described below), which they need to examine. They then respond to the questions: How to react and position yourself in this situation? What questions and dilemmas do you have?

After this, groups present the kind of approach they opted for, and a brief discussion follows.

Situation 1: You get an invitation for a guest appearance on a neighbouring country’s national television. The theme of the programme is the process of reconciliation in the region of former Yugoslavia. You accept the invitation and then receive a suggestion from the editors of the show asking you to focus solely on the criticism of your own country during the TV appearance.

Situation 2: You are local CNA partners in organising public presentations of peace work with ex-combatants. You prepare a public forum in your town. A few days before the forum you receive a request from an association of war victims, explicitly demanding that you list them as the speakers in the forum.

Situation 3: Long-term partners from abroad invite you to be part of a large international project (with organisations from Germany, Palestine, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina). The project is especially important to them because of the money and the future survival of the organisation. You have doubts about the feasibility of the project but accept in order to support the partner organisation. After a year, you are the only ones completing your part of the work. The project is now long over and the main joint product of your work (a manual) was never received, nor is it printed, to the best of your knowledge.


Alternative version

Other examples of situations:

  1. You are organising a cross-border action with war veterans in a Bosnian town. Your partner from the local veterans’ association suggests a meeting with the president of the Municipal Assembly and he expects them to support the action. You know that this man has been convicted of war crimes before the Hague Tribunal and that he has served his time. What do you do?
  2. You are preparing a screening of a documentary film that promotes peaceful dialogue. You receive an offer from a controversial folk music star whose family members have ties to organised crime to support your activity by showing up at the press conference. What do you do?
  3. A foundation that you sent one of your project proposals to writes to you requesting that you clarify your participation in another project that was authored by a long-term partner of yours. You know nothing about this other project and were not consulted in its creation. It turns out that the contents of the other project mostly entails an evaluation of your work and requires skills and experience that only your organisation has. The foundation generally does not give multiple project grants to the same organisations. What do you do?
  4. You have been invited to a talk show to present your peacebuilding group. There are two other guests and both are extreme nationalists – an MP from the ruling party who is a former detainee and a handicapped war veteran. The topic is “War and Peace”. The hosts tells you beforehand that she would like to discuss who finances NGO activism. Your pay is twice the average in your country. What do you do?
  5. While implementing a project financed by an important donor who is financing some of your activities for the first time there are serious difficulties that prevent you from achieving the goals you have set. In particular, during the training an argument takes place in a workshop and one of the participants leaves the training and eight other people follow them. The training itself is made shorter by three days. While writing out the narrative report you have to decide how transparent you will be in describing the situation. What do you do?
  6. During a public appearance in the media you are asked your opinion on another project from your field that you know a lot about because you participated in it and have a very critical opinion of it. The public has a very negative perception of the person leading the project because of their work on documenting war crimes committed by their own side. You know that this person is very aggressive towards employees and treats them badly and is sometimes authoritarian towards partners. When the host asks your opinion about this other project and the person leading it, what do you do?
  7. You arrive at a meeting with your colleague, a veteran of the Army of Republika Srpska, in the HVO* association and you see photographs of convicted war criminals on the wall. What do you do?

Type of exercise:


45-90 min


Possible difficulties:

Workshop example:

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