South Caucasus

In the South Caucasus we work with people affected by conflict to challenge attitudes and foster peace.

We work with young people, journalists and activists to promote shared identities, social change and local agency across the region. This includes facilitating dialogue across the Georgian–Abkhaz and Nagorny Karabakh conflict divides, as well as regionally, on a range of themes to improve understanding of conflict dynamics and promote conflict transformation.

Our work is important because conflict in the South Caucasus continues to lead to death and destruction, mass displacement and trauma, and tensions within and between societies. Now more than ever, there is a need to rebuild trust and foster long-term links among the peoples of the region.

We have been working in the South Caucasus since 1993.

Conflict context

During the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, there was a scramble for independence with three major armed conflicts breaking out over Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia resulting in death, destruction and displacement. All three entities declared independence from their parent state, but this went unrecognised by the outside world.

Despite external mediation through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a trend towards militarisation and growing bilateral engagement by Russia, the EU, the United States and Turkey led to mutual suspicions and even confrontation; this manifested itself in the war of 2008 over South Ossetia and the 2020 war over Nagorny Karabakh. 

The return of geopolitical rivalry in the South Caucasus has contributed to the decline of multilateralism and the emergence of a security vacuum. The result is a set of largely isolated and traumatised societies in Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorny Karabakh divided by these protracted conflicts and deprived of the opportunity to meet ‘the enemy’.

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