The process of clericalization of society threatens the maintenance of the secular character and preservation of previously achieved standards in the field of human rights, education, social norms…

Petar Djukanovic

When we talk about human values, we are talking about the legacy of the Enlightenment as an era that gave one of the most significant impulses to the development of modern civilization. How many universal human values live in today’s Montenegro?

Freedom, equality and human rights are inherent to every human being and therefore should be protected and respected as a precondition of inalienable human dignity. It is clear that in the Montenegrin context there are challenges in preserving and applying basic human values. Processes that occur on a global level, like post-truth and intellectual skepticism which undermine reliance on reason and evidence-based decision-making, are also present in Montenegro today. The process of clericalization of society threatens the maintenance of the secular character and the preservation of previously achieved standards in the area of human rights, education, and social norms. Emotions and subjective beliefs trump objective facts and scientific consensus, undermining trust in expertise and rational dialogue.

This complexity was made particularly visible to us in the crisis of the COVID-19 epidemic, but also by numerous events that are part of the painstaking process of democratic consolidation in recent years and which, for now, result in a trend of increasing polarization and radicalization in society; the tendency to separate national and religious identities is prioritized over universal human rights and individualism. Society is fragmenting along ethnic, religious and ideological lines, weakening the spirit of community.

Research shows that beneath the narrative about multiculturalism in Montenegro lies a sea of prejudice instead of full acceptance of diversity. Unfortunately, this is also illustrated by the data on the high ethnic and religious distance – at least half of citizens would never marry someone of a different religion or ethnicity.

Instead of uniting in our differences, it seems that today they are turning into strong obstacles among us, promoted primarily by politicians and religious leaders who use their power without responsibility towards the community.

Today, Montenegro is not an inclusive society, because not all citizens perceive it as an environment in which they are accepted and in which they have the right to be who they are and to express themselves freely. Certain groups live excluded and neglected on the margins of society, such as the Roma and the poor, but also LGBT persons, PWDs, and numerous others discriminated against for various personal characteristics. Gender equality is constitutionally proclaimed as a category, but the country notes systemic irresponsibility in an adequate response to violence against women and the increase in the number of femicides.

One of the key problems of society is a lack of trust, both among the citizens themselves and in the institutions of the system – in short, a lack of faith in the fact that we are a fair, safe and a society of solidarity. Without strong cohesion that binds us into a community, it is difficult to expect progress in creating a social environment in which human values exist. In this sense, the efforts of all actors in society are necessary to face the challenges which intend to threaten universal values, as well as to recognize and understand the crisis the values are in, in order to defend them and make them stronger for future generations.


Petar Djukanović, program director of the Center for Civic Education (CGO)