International engagement in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict resolution process

International Alert is proud to present our new publication on "International Engagement in the Georgian-Abkhaz Conflict Resolution Process", a collection of papers from Georgian and Abkhaz researchers analysing the effectiveness of international engagement in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict resolution process, with a specific focus on the post-August 2008 period.

The papers assess the impact of non-governmental peacebuilding initiatives, the effectiveness of the ‘Geneva discussions’ co-facilitated by the UN, EU and OSCE, and explore prospects for Abkhaz engagement with the international community. Together, these papers make a powerful argument for the de-isolation of Abkhazia and for continued direct and impartial engagement by both governmental and non-governmental organisations.

The theme of the research was chosen by researchers in July 2009, only two weeks after the decision not to extend the UN Observer Mission (UNOMIG) mandate. Although UNOMIG’s mandate and name had been under review since the August 2008 war, many observers and analysts reacted to the veto with considerable surprise. There had been a view that all sides shared a strong enough interest in keeping a UN mission in Abkhazia to make it possible to find a compromise on the wording of a new mandate and a new name. UNOMIG’s imminent departure prompted researchers to reflect on the security implications and potential impact and to ask what UNOMIG – or other international organisations for that matter – actually achieved. More importantly, what lessons could be drawn from its experience? And what prospects existed for a future international presence in Abkhazia?

Some of these questions are examined in some depth in this collection of papers, which should make interesting reading for anyone looking for a nuanced understanding of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, the role of the international community and the complex dynamics at play regarding Georgian-Russian and Russian-Western relations.

This is the second publication from Alert in a series of ‘Dialogue through Research’ by Georgian and Abkhaz experts, aiming to shed new light on the conflict and stimulate new ways of thinking about conflict-related issues. The first in the series was published in September 2009: entitled "Dialogue on Security Guarantees in the context of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict", the publication presents the separate analyses of Georgian and Abkhaz experts on the need for security guarantees, the reasons why there has been no agreement on them as well as barriers and opportunities for future agreements.

The opinions expressed in this collection are those of the individual authors, or where indicated, of people interviewed for the research, and do not pretend to represent a unified vision for the resolution of the conflict. We hope that individually and as a collection, the articles will help readers to look at the conflict from different perspectives, to inform their analysis and the way in which they respond to developments in the region. In this way, this new publication could be of interest equally to local and international audiences, to decision makers and civil society activists, to people living in the region and to the international actors.

As part of this project, Alert has published several other publications on the issue of Georgian-Abkhaz relations. You can find them on the Caucasus Dialogue project page.