From 11-15 July 2018 in the Georgian city of Kobuleti, PCi’s Programme Adviser Artak Ayunts conducted a training for young leaders from across the South Caucasus titled ‘Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding’. The training was part of a larger project, ‘Youth for Peace in the South Caucasus’, which aims to build trust among young activists from different parts of the region, who will work at peace camps in Armenia and Georgia for teenagers with mixed nationalities. The training was organised with the support of the international non-governmental organisation HEKS-EPER and several NGOs from across the South Caucasus region: Syunik Development NGO; Regional Network of Peace and Reintegration; Lazarus Charity Foundation of the Patriarchate of Georgia; and The Union of Azerbaijani Women of Georgia.
Within the Alternotion project – which aims to create an online platform of cross-border storytelling on the cultural similarities of Armenians and Azerbaijanis – PCi’s Programme Adviser Artak Ayunts conducted training for young bloggers and vloggers from Armenia on conflict transformation and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (3 February 2019). The training was part of an EU-funded PeaCE project (Peacebuilding through Capacity Enhancement and Civic Engagement), implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation, aiming to encourage young Armenians and Azerbaijanis from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh to develop a shared vision for peace in the region through learning conflict transformation and peacebuilding methodologies.
This policy briefing, reflects on the present situation in the east of Ukraine as experienced by the populations on both sides of the line of contact in the east – in the NGCA of LNR and DNR, and with areas under government control. The paper seeks to contextualise these differing experiences and offers a set of recommendations, with the aim of proposing a peacebuilding agenda for local and international organisations.
In April 2019, PCi commenced work on a 12-month project funded by the UK Government and within the framework of UNSCR 2250 on youth, peace and security. The first component involves research into youth involvement in the violence-free revolution that led to a change in government in 2018. Workshops will then be convened for Armenian civil society organisations focusing on peacebuilding to discuss the research findings and develop recommendations, and it is envisaged that organisations will work collaboratively to advocate for the recommendations. The project aims to have the recommendations included in the government’s official Youth Policy. The second component will develop educational materials to build young people’s awareness of peace and security issues in Armenia and increase knowledge of peacebuilding activities. Materials will be piloted among youth directly affected by conflict in the province of Tavush in the north east of Armenia.
Peaceful Change initiative and the Youth Cooperation Center of Dilijan (YCCD) hosted a roundtable event on Youth Policy issues in Armenia (October 2019) in Yerevan. This is a component of the project ‘Progressing Youth Participation in Armenia on Governance and Peace’. Participants included officials from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport (MESCS) responsible for the development of Youth Policy in Armenia, representatives from civil society and youth organisations, active youth workers, and young men and women interested in the issue. The discussions were focused on topics which produced suggested recommendations and messages. PCi and YCCD will work with civil society and government to raise awareness of these recommendations/messages, to promote inclusive and participatory processes in the development of Youth Policy in Armenia.
Peaceful Change initiative accompanied leaders of youth organisations, government representatives and members of the Armenian National Assembly on a visit to Scotland from 18-22 November 2019. The delegation met with Scottish youth leaders, government officials, business leaders and academics, gaining insight into how they might strengthen the ability of young people to participate in decision making at different levels on their return to Armenia. Highlights included meetings with Members of the Scottish Parliament (Edinburgh), the Scottish Youth Parliament (Dundee) and youth working alongside police officers at the ‘Community Safety Hub’ in Dundee.
Artur Ghazaryan from the Youth Cooperation Centre of Dilijan, and PCi’s Armenian project partner, said: “This has been a great experience … young people [in Scotland] are involved in different channels, such as the Youth Parliament, the local council and other informal initiatives and are educated to be civic-minded so they can contribute to political and economic affairs and other areas of life. This is a great example and when we return to Armenia we can seek to try and adopt and improve youth representation in different sectors of life as well.”
A survey of participants in track-three dialogues was conducted between March and April 2018 by the Mediation and Dialogue Research Center, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, with support from PCi. This was to test hypotheses developed during an earlier study about patterns and risks relating to track-three dialogues in Ukraine. ‘Understanding Dialogue in Ukraine: A survey-based study, Analytical Report 2018’ can be downloaded here in English, Ukrainian and Russian.
A training manual was produced as a component of the project ‘Progressing Youth Participation in Armenia on Governance and Peace’, which supports UNSCR 2250 on youth, peace and security. The manual has four modules which support users in:
- increasing understanding of peace and peacebuilding together with the basics of conflict transformation
- developing communication skills in support of non-violent dialogue
- communicating approaches and tools related to decision making in line with UNSCR 2250 leading to the development of action plans for youth engagement in governance
PCi worked with YCCD (an Armenian NGO) to promote youth participation in decision making and peacebuilding in Armenia, supporting UN Security Resolution 2250 calling on governments to include youth participation in local, national and international institutions, in efforts to end conflict. A short film was produced to capture the project’s impact (available in Armenian with English subtitles).
COVID-19 is highlighting vulnerabilities among marginalised communities around the world. In Georgia, Abkhazia remote communities, situated far away from urban centres have learned to cope with their isolation, even though they face additional challenges when situated adjacent to conflict-affected areas. The introduction of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 have stretched livelihoods and coping mechanisms to breaking point. For example, travel restrictions have led to a shortage of essential goods and the lack of water supply has made it difficult to maintain good hand hygiene; in addition, the distance from decision making is challenging the effectiveness of public health mechanisms. Peaceful Change initiative and their partners have been supporting schools in isolated communities in this region to deal with these challenges, filling gaps in COVID-preparedness and supporting local groups to organise and meet the challenges of the pandemic.