Analysis - Feb 18, 2014 0:03 - 0 Comments

Transforming the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh: what can we learn from women’s organizations?

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I think that women should be aware of everything, they should be educated, well-educated, they should participate in every little thing that happens in their society, and of course if this society is in a conflict situation they one hundred, one million per cent - they should be in that negotiation process. (Interview, Baku, 2012)

In Armenia and Azerbaijan, momentum is growing around women’s participation in peacebuilding – part of a global trend in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.[1] However, in spite of the developments taking place at the civil society level, there is a lack of public awareness relating to the women’s peace agenda. In addition, previous research on women’s activism in the two countries has tended to skirt the issue of peacebuilding,[2] leaving us with little understanding of how this field has developed in the face of cultural and political differences, women’s war-time experiences and their search for post-conflict justice.

To help develop our understanding of how women’s organisations become involved in peacebuilding, I am conducting a four year doctoral study (2011 – 2015), sponsored by the Irish Research Council, on women’s peace activism in Armenia and Azerbaijan.[3] Through correspondence, interviews, informal dialogue and participant observation, I am mapping the relationship between women’s activism and peacebuilding, and tracing the development of a women’s peace agenda based on Resolution 1325 and the international Women, Peace and Security framework. The first part of this article provides an overview of women’s peacebuilding, while in the second I raise some critical questions about th . . . Read More

Analysis - Feb 18, 2014 0:02 - 0 Comments

Confidence-building in the Karabakh conflict: what next?

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In an earlier article published in the Caucasus Edition in November 2013, I argued that the spectrum of initiatives in Karabakh peace process needs to be broadened. In this article I would like to flash this out by exploring a number of concrete areas about different kinds of peacebuilding initiatives that could be undertaken. I explore seven clusters of ideas in the realms of security, economic cooperation, cross-border visits, symbolic initiatives, learning initiatives, initiatives directed at ‘single’ and ‘external’ communities and pan-regional initiatives.

Discussion of peacebuilding initiatives, or confidence building measures, typically faces initial hurdles in terms of where to start, and who to include. Azerbaijan consistently advocates against initiatives that would solidify and entrench the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. Generally, it is only when such initiatives promote an irredentist reading of the conflict or position the Armenians and Azeris of Karabakh as equal communities that Azerbaijani officials encourage them.

Armenians are much more open to confidence building measures, especially in Karabakh, where they are seen as a way to legitimize and promote the de facto state in NK, and on security in the Line of Contact (LOC) area. Initiatives and formats suggesting parity between the Armenian and Azerbaijani populations of Karabakh are, however, rejected.

In thinking about the future, three recommendations may be considered. A transformation in Armenian and Azerbaijani understandings of what confidence building is and the purpose it serves would be a breakthrough in itself. The conflict parties’ attitude towards confidence building is more hostile, instrumental and zero sum than it has ever been. Determined and sustained lobbying at the diplomatic level on the meaning and benefit of confidence building is . . . Read More

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