Planning for peace together in the Caucasus
30 March 2012
A project by Saferworld, the Caucasus Institute for Peace Democracy and Development (CIPDD), and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) mobilised communities to identify, articulate and advocate effectively on peace and stability issues to policy makers in Georgia.
The events of August 2008 in Georgia demonstrated that civil society needs and wants to have more chance to inform policies affecting peace, security and stability. However, there was limited capacity at the time for civil society to analyse these issues, or to engage in constructive discussions with decision makers. There was also a lack of access to balanced and objective information to base this type of analysis on, and a lack of agreed mechanisms to engage with decision makers.
In response,CIPDD, GYLA and Saferworld ran a two year project to promote inclusive dialogue on peace and security in the country. The project began by creating networks of civil society, who carried out a wide range of consultations across the four regions of Kvemo Kartli, Samstkhe-Javakheti, Shida Kartli and Samegrelo to solicit community perspectives. On the basis of these consultations, regional and national strategies were created to address the issues identified, and groups were trained in advocacy. A series of regional and national engagement meetings were then held where the issues of concern were discussed with policy and decision makers.
Discussions at two Shida Kartli regional meetings, for example, focused on how to ensure national security and guarantee security to communities along the Administrative Boundary Lines; and ways to promote greater engagement between ethnic Georgians, Abkhaz and South Ossetians. Commitments that were secured at these Shida Kartli meetings included:
- greater provision of information by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to communities living along the Administrative Boundary Lines about security measures and procedures, including procedures for crossing the boundary lines
- additional efforts by regional authorities to provide water to communities along the boundary lines, including reconstruction of an irrigation system in Zemo Sobisi
- development of a ‘human security plan’ by the local government, to support local farmers
- efforts to provide a site for a cemetery on Georgian-controlled territory in Nikozi.
Otar Chelidze, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, noted at the most recent Shida Kartli meeting that “this meeting was good and the information provided by the community representatives will be helpful in future. These meetings are a good way to get closer to local people”.
Lia Chlachidze, a civil society representative from Shida Kartli, said she was grateful to the organisers of the regional discussions, as well as to the government representatives, “for the opportunity to talk and plan together the way out of this difficult situation facing people living on the Administrative Boundary Line [between Georgia and South Ossetia]”.
The culmination of regional public discussions was a national engagement meeting in Tbilisi at the end of 2011, opened by the British Ambassador to Georgia, Judith Gough, as well as the Head of the United Nations Development Programme and UN Resident Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick.
This national meeting brought the issues that were identified locally and regionally up for discussion by regional, national and international stakeholders. Eighty eight people took part in the meeting, including community representatives and national and international policy makers.
Over its lifetime the ‘Planning for Peace Together’ project has:
- successfully developed the capacity of representative groups, with networks of between 10 and 15 civil society representatives established in each of the four regions
- increased knowledge of community perspectives and the context in different regions
- brought about a greater understanding of conflict dynamics and the role of different actors
- developed community-informed analyses and strategies
- demonstrated the potential for and benefit of constructive discussions.
The project’s most recent phase was funded through the UK Government’s Conflict Pool. This built on a previous 18-month phase funded jointly through the Conflict Pool and the European Union’s Instrument for Stability.