UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

12/07/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/07/2023 12:22

University of Sarajevo contributes to High-Level Segment at UNESCO General Conference

The High-Level Segment of UNESCO's 42nd General Conference took place on 9 November 2023 at its Headquarters, with a session of global intellectual reflections on the theme of the "Commons".

In a world characterised by multiple fractures, divisions and transformations - whether geopolitical, climatic or digital - the aim was to rethink the way in which we can still build a world in common, and to identify, in line with UNESCO's tradition, the elements that enable us to continue to weave together our common humanity - whether in terms of rights, values, narratives or something else.

(re)Thinking the Commons, Acting Together

The High-Level Segment, titled "(Re)Thinking about the commons, acting together to protect them", focused on how the commons were thought of and protected in the context of the major disruptions the world is currently experiencing, with a particular emphasis on climate disruption and digital transformation.

To contribute to this reflection, UNESCO asked world-renowned intellectual, Dipesh Chakrabarty, to reflect on this subject, in relation to his own field, and to present the results of his research to UNESCO. Chakrabarty is an Indian historian, lecturer at the University of Chicago and author of "The Climate of History in a Planetary Age " which argues for the need to combine two perspectives in writing history: the global and the planetary. The intellectual keynote session was organised in collaboration with Le Grand Continent.

The current conflicts are a reminder, if ever one was needed, of how difficult remains the task of tending to the problems of the commons that increasingly mark our collective existence as humanity. Attending to these problems urgently requires the work of peacebuilding, that in turn demands that we address the burning issues of justice and inequality that divide our passions.

Yet the gathering crisis of climate change also tells us that struggles for justice and freedom today are inextricably linked to the fate of this warming planet that provides the ground for our existence. Using this understanding as its point of departure, this lecture argued how taking a planetary view of our contemporary history may allow us to shift our political imagination in ways that enable us to address peace, justice, and the planet together in our institutions and actions.

Replay High-Level Segment "(re)Thinking the Commons, Acting Together" - 9 November 2023 [4:37:02]


I offer you my observations in the spirit of UNESCO, which seeks to find objective truths that can unite humanity regardless of religious and political differences. All moments of crisis reverberate the question: What do we still share in a world that sometimes appears fragmented?

Dipesh Chakrabarty, historian, author and lecturer at the University of Chicago

Key speakers from partner University of Sarajevo

Following the global discussion at the 42nd General Conference, UNESCO brought together contributions from 5 Partner Universities in Mexico, the United States, India, Morocco, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria to shed regional light on the thesis developed by speaker Dipesh Chakrabarty. Simultaneous sessions were organised at several universities around the world, among which the University of Sarajevo, under the overall support of the Antenna in Sarajevo of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe.

Prof. PhD. Sarina Bakić, is an associate professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Sarajevo, Department of Sociology. She graduated in Sociology at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Sarajevo, where she received her Master's degree in 2012 in the field of Communication Sciences. Her narrower scientific field of activity is the sociology of culture and art, she investigates various phenomena of mass culture, aesthetics and the relationship between art and politics, dealing with the culture of memory, segments of intercultural dialogue and cultural diplomacy. She is the winner of the University of Sarajevo award for scientific/artistic work for the year 2021.


Prof. PhD. Amila Ždralović, completed the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo - Department of Philosophy and Sociology. Received a Master diploma (2007) and PhD (2016) from the Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo in the field of Sociology. She is currently working as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo, in the subjects: Sociology, Sociology of Law and Methodology of Social Sciences. Areas of interest: sociology of law and methodology of social sciences and legal research, feminist theory.

After the inspiring lectures given by PhD Prof. Sarina Bakić (UNSA Faculty of Political Science) and Prof. Amila Ždralović (UNSA Faculty of Law), a constructive discussion followed, during which students had the opportunity to exchange their views on issues and social problems of global importance and to offer their own understanding of ways and actions to find common long-term solutions.

The students highlighted that the world is a mosaic of cultures, languages and experiences, yet beneath this diversity lies a profound truth: we are all bound by a tapestry of shared values. Regardless of our backgrounds, beliefs or circumstances, fundamental elements connect us as human beings. This was an idea that was reiterated by intellectual keynote speaker, Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty, in his opening remarks at the High-Level Segment.


It was a great experience to hear many young people speaking clearly and loudly about the commons, hearing them being very much in tune with problems in the world and their communities. It is important to give young people an opportunity to speak up, inspiring others and being inspired by others as well. This is the way we also encourage necessary intercultural dialogue, fostering empathy and social activism among young people.

Sarina Bakic, Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Sarajevo
University of Sarajevo
University of Sarajevo

University of Sarajevo Youth recommendations

The permanent outcome of this debate of global importance are the recommendations of the students at the University of Sarajevo, which were presented to the General Conference:

  • Creating free available digital platforms for educational purposes
  • Strengthening communities that would spread common values
  • UNESCO sharing its influence through education that would help people get a wider picture of the current situations in the world
  • Raising awareness on cultural heritage preservation
  • Raising awareness about secondary education and being careful about the information available through social media
  • Bringing humanity closer to nature, transforming cities into walkable cities run by communities which can participate in the building and preservation of parks with ecosystems native to the land, installing more benches, investing in public transport
  • Working on expanding "the right to roam" where people would be able to tread on government-owned or private land as long as they cause no damage or harm
  • Investing in organisations built around communities that focus on art, heritage and culture
  • Education and exposure to different cultures and communities because hatred is born from ignorance and a lack of knowledge
  • Strengthening our local communities helps us build a stronger global community
  • A powerful reminder that we are all part of a global community each contributing to the beautiful mosaic that is the human experience
  • Only in peace we can grow and improve

The discussions around commons and connective tissues that help us work together to protect the common values are crucial for fostering a sustainable future. The passion and dedication of students and professors can truly inspire positive change and encourage collective action toward preserving and caring for our planet.

Sinisa Sesum, Head of Antenna in Sarajevo, UNESCO

Inspiring words and ideas about our common humanity

Sinisa Sesum, Head of the Antenna in Sarajevo, conveyed great satisfaction in having participated in such an exceptional event and witnessed the enthusiasm of the youth. "Events that gather students and speakers to share inspiring words and ideas about preserving our planet are of high value", he emphasised.

A key message of the students was the importance of education in cultivating mutual understanding and strengthening communities both nationally and internationally, and facilitating peace. As Dipesh Chakrabarty's speech highlighted, there are "Many worlds on one planet". The High-Level Segment created the platform for discussing the idea of the "Commons" and the fundamental elements that connect us.

The contributions from the 5 Partner Universities, of which the University of Sarajevo was one, provided valuable recommendations from the perspective of youth, supported by academics, which fed into the discussions at the General Conference. They outlined the importance of maintaining and strengthening our common humanity through education and the protection of culture and the natural world.

We are delighted by the opportunity offered and to have contributed to the debate. Our students have exchanged opinions on globally-relevant issues and social problems and offered their own understanding of ways and actions towards joint long-term solutions.

Sead Turčalo, Dean, Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Sarajevo
University of Sarajevo
University of Sarajevo
University of Sarajevo