NP was invited by local civil society actors in the South Caucasus to explore potential engagement in the region, starting by focusing on the human security situation in territories affected by the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia.
For more than a year, NP conducted advance out-of-region consultations with civil society representatives from the South Caucasus, as well as with regional experts. This work was followed-up with an in depth exploration in 2010, consisting of multiple field missions to Georgia Tbilisi-Administered-Terriroties and Abkhazia. This allowed over 100 individual interviews with civil society representatives, villagers, IDPs, local officials, security providers, entrepreneurs, governmental and international bodies. In October 2010, NP held a workshop consultation in Odessa (Ukraine) with representatives from South Caucasus Civil Society, most of them from Georgia TAT and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but also from Russia and Armenia. To have a more complete assessment of the security situation and related needs in four conflict-affected districts of Georgia TAT and Abkhazia three participatory consultations were organized with residents of approximately 25 boundary and/or multi-ethnic communities, designed to assess the possibility of jointly creating security enhancement mechanisms.
In particular, NP’s exploratory mission concluded that in areas afflicted by the Georgia/Abkhaz/South Ossetia conflicts, a widespread feeling of insecurity places limits on civil society work as well as on human rights of the local population, even if actual violent attacks are rare. The atmosphere of mistrust and fear obstructs peace-building processes and could create conditions for triggers of new violent escalations.
In the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia, there are more visible risks of an imminent armed confrontation. NP hopes to conduct an exploratory mission to that part of the South Caucasus in 2012.
Findings and recommendations of the exploratory mission has been approved, and the International Governing Council has issued the mandate to initiate a South Caucasus Regional Programme. NP will therefore continue with an initial pilot deployment in Shida Kartli (Georgia TAT) and Abkhazia on a semi-permanent basis in 2012, considering a more substantial deployment after if need arises, as well as proceed with implementation of regional activities involving actors from the South Caucasus as a whole, including semi-/unrecognised entities.