For the majority of people in Europe, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina remained mainly a TV event; many felt that it did not really concern them or that nothing could be done about it. But at the same time there were also tens of thousands of individuals in countries across Europe who decided that they did not want to remain bystanders, just watching what was going on, but were determined to do something. This went way beyond professional aid organisations: many smaller civil society organisations and especially newly created, often informal, groups launched numerous activities and initiatives.
These had various aims, sometimes connected, sometimes not: to help refugees outside Bosnia and Herzegovina, to bring humanitarian and material aid to the affected populations within Bosnia and Herzegovina, to support the democratic and anti-nationalist forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially at the grassroots level, and/or to protest against the attitudes of passivity or duplicity of their own governments. International Workers Aid (IWA) was one of the initiatives that emerged from these civil society mobilisations during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a highly original initiative in several respects.
Nicolas Moll was born in Schaerbeek, Belgium, in 1965 and holds a PhD in Contemporary History from the University of Freiburg. He has been living in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, since 2007. As a freelance researcher, his interests include post-war legacies in South-Eastern and Western Europe and transnational civil society movements. He has written a number of articles on these topics and co-edited a book with Tobias Flessenkemper: Das politische System Bosnien und Herzegowinas. Herausforderungen zwischen Dayton-Friedensabkommen und EU-Annäherung [The political system of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Challenges between the Dayton Peace Agreement and EU rapprochement], Springer VS, 2018. He is currently preparing a comprehensive study on transnational solidarity movements in Europe during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their discourses on Europe.