20 years of peacebuilding

Discussion event, 3 October 2013Communities across Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh have been sharing views on the achievements and gaps in 20 years of civil peacebuilding efforts, as well as future prospects, in a series of open discussion events held by International Alert and its partners.

The events aimed to widen the debate on peacebuilding in the Nagorny Karabakh context to include more diverse audiences and stimulate public engagement in discussions at the level of civil society. Each event centred on the presentation of Advancing the prospects for peace: 20 years of civil peacebuilding in the context of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict (English/Russian), a report published by International Alert in August which reflects the findings of five experts from different sides of the conflict. The authors presented the publication at a total of 25 events, reaching remote regions, including along the Line of Contact, as well as the capitals. Around 600 people from diverse sectors of society took part. The events attracted widespread interest and were covered by local media across the region.

At each event, presentations were followed by lively open discussion. In Azerbaijan, a sense of renewed momentum and appetite for further open debates was felt. Participants described the events as being the first opportunity in a long time for public engagement in peacebuilding discussions. The importance of engaging marginalised groups such as ex-combatants and internally displaced persons in such events was widely emphasised.

In Nagorny Karabakh, participants noted the importance of exchanging information on peacebuilding efforts between the conflicting societies in order to improve understanding of different points of view. Many also highlighted the need for greater efforts to increase awareness and engagement in peacebuilding activities in communities in the regions.

At events in Armenia, attention was drawn to the value of grassroots work in helping to build public support for a resolution at the political level. Some participants registered demand for more discussions within the society to understand the value of peace, make civil peacebuilding processes more transparent and build public support for them. Others emphasised communication and dialogue between people from different sides of the conflict as vital for building mutual understanding and a foundation for peace.

This series of events formed part of International Alert’s ongoing work in the region to introduce alternative perspectives and promote fresh thinking on the conflict and possibilities for peacebuilding.

This initiative is part of the European Partnership for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (EPNK), supported by the European Union.