Along with promoting Serb culture and identity, the work of the Serb National Council (SNV) is focused on fighting for civil rights, human rights, and national rights of the Serb community in Croatia.
Problems encountered by Serbs in Croatia predominantly stem from the past war. Since they have not been solved 20 years after the wars, along with promoting Serb identity and culture, the SNV’s work is focused on civil rights, human rights, and national rights of the Serb community in Croatia. Part of the work is focused on advocacy before relevant international and state institutions. Due to the specific character and volume of work that we do, our activities are divided in several topical areas.
As the Serb self-government in Croatia, the SNV actively participates in the processes that aim to speed up reintegration of Serbs into Croatian society. To this end, and with the financial assistance from the UNHCR, we have established a legal framework through which we extend free legal aid. The activities are conducted through the network of our offices in Rijeka, Pula, Karlovac, and Daruvar. In this way, we secure direct communication with the users, which contributes to speedy resolution of their problems. Our lawyers help users in resolving legal issues pertaining to housing care, status rights, rights to pensions, health care, social care, and the recognition of the length of service. In cooperation with the other civil society organisations, we deal with the issues of missing persons, war crimes and discrimination based on nationality.
Since its inception, the SNV has been also continuously working on the development of returnee and underdeveloped areas. Apart from implementing concrete projects, such as upholding family farms by establishing cooperatives, our Centre for development engages with relevant institutions to create better legal grounds and secure funding for reconstruction and construction.
To educate activists and empower Serb institutions and organisations within which they work, in 2008 we launched the Political Academy. This is a program of supplementary education for younger members of the Serb community through which we aim to encourage development of local communities, motivate youth, and prepare them for participation in the political processes. We also conduct educational activities intended for children of school and preschool age and youth of secondary school age. Apart from the Cyrillic Alphabet through Play, a creative workshop for learning the Cyrillic alphabet, the Council of the Serb National Minority of the City of Zagreb participates in the Summer School of the Serb Language Sava Mrkalj and in organizing trips for children and youth to the Vuk Karadžić language camp.
Regardless of their formally guaranteed rights, Serbs in Croatia still encounter numerous problems when exercising the right to education. To address this, we have established cooperation with representatives of authorities, civil sector and those who encounter problems in practice – parents, children and those employed in the school system.
The SNV also takes overall care of marking anniversaries and maintaining memorial sites dedicated to the victims who perished in the Second World War. Also, in cooperation with county, city and municipal councils, every year we mark the suffering and exodus of Serbs in the past war.
Although protection and reconstruction of monuments is one of the key elements needed to reaffirm the contemporary cultural identity of Serbs in Croatia, the current institutional practices have thus far, barring a few exceptions, failed to develop mechanisms of its protection. For this reason, we also work on identification and documenting condition found and on advocacy for reconstruction process. We also support various memorial interventions, public reminders of significant historic events and historic personalities which occurs in socially visible space.
Apart from the Archive of Serbs, which we established in 2006 in cooperation with the Social Cultural Society Prosvjeta, the SNV has started its publishing activity, which is defined by its main activities – protecting human and minority rights and preserving our cultural identity.
Our publishing activities include periodical publications whose aim is to inform not only the Serb community, but also the rest of the public and the institutions whose task is to work towards a comprehensive resolution of problems. Since December 1999, the SNV has been issuing Novosti weekly, which also has its online edition. We issue the Bulletin, a periodic publication which presents main problems encountered by Serbs in Croatia, each with a different thematic focus.