Zijah Sokolović

The renowned actor, director and playwright Zijah Sokolović was appointed UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for Tolerance and Nonviolence on May 7, 2012.

In his role as a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, Sokolović promotes the aims of "Living Life without Violence," a nationwide advocacy campaign against domestic violence launched in 2010 by the Ministry of Interior (MUP), with support from the UN. Given his long-time engagement as an actor, director and playwright in efforts to prevent violence, Sokolović's involvement in this new role helps advocate more effectively for these goals, especially among young people.

"Young people often don't recognize the violence in many everyday situations," said Sokolović. "I'm honored to have this opportunity to work with UNDP to raise awareness of this and to show young men how their behavior can help fight violence against women."

The campaign includes educational activities in schools and public advocacy events. Numerous public figures, including President Ivo Josipović, have filmed promotional videos as part of the campaign, in which they vowed to "lead a live without violence" and urged viewers to report abuses.

Domestic violence affects as many as one in three families in Croatia, and up to 40 percent of Croatian citizens know at least one victim of domestic violence. According to police statistics, 45 cases of domestic violence are reported every day in Croatia, with the number rising to 60 on holidays, when family tensions often run high. The number of unreported cases is assumed to be many times greater than this. Women are overwhelmingly the target of abuse; in Croatia, they make up only 3-12% of the perpetrators but 70-83% of the victims.

Sokolović's play, "There's no excuse for violence" is designed to discourage all forms of violence among teenagers. "There's no excuse for violence" is an interactive theater piece that is part of the The/Arto project, the first systematic attempt to educate children through art in Croatia. Sokolović created the project and implements it in Croatia in cooperation with Dražen Šivak, an actor and assistant professor at the Drama Academy in Zagreb. The aim of the play is to raise awareness of children and young people about all kinds of violence and teach them how to react. The play depicts dozens of different violent situations in everyday life. Sokolović has performed the play not only in Croatia, but also in many neighbouring countries.