Nagorny Karabakh conflict

We work on the Nagorny Karabakh conflict context by empowering local people to build trust across the conflict divide and to explore new ways of supporting peace.

In the past we have used comparative learning to introduce alternative perspectives and promote fresh thinking on the conflict and possibilities for peacebuilding. We promoted the study of different experiences of peaceful coexistence in other conflict contexts to stimulate debate and increase understanding across the divided communities. We currently work with journalists from the societies affected by the conflict to highlight its effects on daily life and to allow readers on the other side of the conflict divide to see the real faces hidden behind the images of ‘the enemy’.  We also analyse and publish grassroots views on the conflict to identify ways of transforming the conflict as proposed by the societies themselves.

Following the 2020 war over Nagorny Karabakh, our work remains important because the conflict is not resolved. Tensions are extremely high, and the rhetoric is volatile. Long-term peacebuilding processes remain one of the few ways for ordinary people to build relationships and maintain contact across the conflict divide.

We have been working on the Nagorny Karabakh conflict context since 2003.

Conflict context

The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is a dispute over Nagorny Karabakh, a territory inhabited by Armenians but part of Soviet Azerbaijan. Following the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, a two-year war in the early 1990s ended in an Armenian victory. 25,000 people died and over a million were displaced. Almost all of the territory of Nagorny Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijani control (including seven regions around it) and declared independence.  

Since 1992, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group has facilitated negotiations but with little to show for it. Tensions escalated, culminating in a short war in April 2016 with hundreds dead and territory changing hands. Then in late 2020, the second Karabakh war broke out which led to an Azerbaijani victory and an estimated 5,000-7,000 dead. Russia stepped in to mediate a ceasefire and sent a peacekeeping mission to Nagorny Karabakh.

While some displaced people have started to return to their homes, tensions remain high and the political situation volatile. Ceasefire violations on the Line of Contact and the international border continue and there is no sign of a final peace agreement.