The five Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan suffer from a wide range of security issues. These include ethno-nationalist tensions, resource shortages, poor border management, narcotics, extremism, organised crime and weak national and local governance.
The five countries of Central Asia constitute a distinct sub-region shaped by a shared Soviet legacy of weak democratic institutions and poorly adapting economies, over-centralised and increasingly authoritarian governments, arbitrary and often disputed borders, and a reliance on highly repressive law-enforcement agencies. These countries also lie strategically at the intersection between Europe and Asia, and consequently provide a transit corridor for various forms of trafficking including narcotics, small arms and migrants. They are also a strategic supply route for military operations in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s proximity is a major concern for security in Central Asia, with suspected trafficking in drugs and in small arms and light weapons contributing to the criminalisation of economies, particularly with the imminent withdrawal of international troops.
The political and inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 resulted in the deaths of over 400 people. It has not only exposed the fragility of Kyrgyzstan but has had significant implications for neighbouring states, as well as the international community working on stability in the region. The underlying causes of the violence – poor governance, economic growth and security provision – have not been resolved and pose similar threats in other parts of the region. It is clear that long term efforts to prevent the spread of violence and conflict in Central Asia require significant investment in these areas to bring about positive change.
We have been working in Central Asia since 2009, focusing on enabling communities and civil society to respond more effectively to conflict and security issues in the Kyrgyzstani and Tajikistani parts of the Ferghana Valley. We have trained civil society organisations and the media to understand the impact they have on conflict dynamics, and have conducted research and advocacy activities in the other Central Asian states.
Community security in the Ferghana Valley
Together with our partners, Association for Scientific and Technological Intelligentsia (ASTI), Youth Development Initiatives (MIR) and the Foundation for Tolerance International (FTI) we are developing inclusive approaches to community security in 13 locations in the Ferghana Valley. We are encouraging constructive co-operation on local security issues between residents, authorities and law enforcement agencies. From this experience we are developing practical, evidence-based policy recommendations that contribute to wider conflict prevention efforts.
Inclusive police reform in Kyrgyzstan
We are working with “Free Generation” – the Liberal Youth Alliance, to call for changes in the way that security is provided in Kyrgyzstan. This two-year project aims to encourage a wide range of civil society organisations to participate in the on-going discussions on security policies and police reform in Kyrgyzstan.
Supporting conflict and gender-sensitive interventions
Since June 2010, we have been supporting civil society organisations in southern Kyrgyzstan and northern Tajikistan to put conflict and gender-sensitive approaches into practice in their work. We provide training, consultancy and mentoring on conflict sensitivity, conflict analysis and security sector reform among others things.
This map is intended for illustrative purposes only. Saferworld takes no position on whether this representation is legally or politically valid.
In five villages where Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks live in intertwined communities, Saferworld and partners are bringing communities together to improve their security.
Saferworld is working with local partners in the Ferghana Valley to reduce tensions and improve dialogue between parallel villages on the Tajik-Kyrgyz border so that they can better address their community security concerns.