“YOUTH DEBATES FOR NK CONFLICT RESOLUTION”

Society for Humanitarian Research is local NGO that intends to implement a project aimed at raising the confidence in peaceful resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict among youth, increasing their knowledge in conflict resolution process and encouraging young people to analyze the conflict from different sides. 200 young people from Baku, Barda, Ganja, Gazakh, Agdam, Yevlakh and Sumgayit will be selected (based on thir background and activeness) to participate in 7 debates (one in each city) devoted to NK conflict resolution. After this, the most active young people will be trained by the experts on conflict resolution for further participation in simulation games. The organization also plans to present documentaires on various conflicts in different countries from Prague Film Festival. The conclusing event of the project will be “Ideas Exhibition” where different art pieces devoted to conflict resolution will be shown.

Project Description
The project is aimed at increasing awareness about NK conflict and the possibilities of its peaceful resolution among young people. The project is mainly targeting university students, young activists, youth NGO workers that form 90% of beneficiaries, while IDPs, refugees and other war victims share only 10%. The project will select participants based on their background and interest in conflict resolution. 200 young people from Baku, Barda, Ganja, Gazakh, Agdam, Yevlakh and Sumgayit will be recruited to participate in debates that will take place in all seven cities. The debates on the role of civil society in conflict resolution will be facilitated by well-known political scientists and public figures. Following this, the organization will conduct the training in all the mentioned cities to improve the participants’ theoretical knowledge in the conflict management. This training will prepare the participants for the main part of the project – simulation games. The organization plans to conduct four simulation games with the following topics:

– “The conflict sides are in dilemma”

– “The Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia are working with their societies”

– “Regional interests in conflict resolution” (reviewing NK conflict in the context of regional political and economic relations)

– “Preparation for peace agreement” (peace negotiations in societies)

At this stage the organization is planning to demonstrate documentaries from Prague Documentary Films Festival. The documentaries reflect different visions on present interethnic conflicts – Israel-Palestine, Balkans, Ireland, and Georgia-Abkhaz-Ossetia. As a concluding event of the project SHR plans to hold “Exhibition of Peace-Building Ideas” – the exhibition of art pieces focused on conflict resolution and peace building. The “exhibits” will be prepared by the project participants as well as journalists and young activists.

Project Justification

NK conflict is one of the longest-standing and intractable conflicts in the South Caucasus. Despite the ongoing negotiations between the Azerbaijani and Armenia officials, the societies remain intransigent on making compromises and stepping into the phase of reconciliation. Public diplomacy has been usually limited to the dialogue between the non-governmental organizations and few youth meetings from both sides. Azerbaijanis and Armenians stay hostile toward each other as very little has been done for explaining the people different realities of the conflict. On the other hand, people also have a limited understanding about the regional interests and content of official talks between two presidents which creates more distrust in the peaceful resolution. According to Society for Humanitarian Research, this project will raise youth confidence in peace talks and explain their role in the peace building process. Since the organization will stay in touch with the youth groups, this initiative can be continued with arranging more meetings between Azeri and Armenian youth in future.

The Society for Humanitarian Research (SHR) was founded in 1997 and registered by the Ministry of Justice in 2000. The mission of SHR is to contribute to democratic changes in the society, promoting public participation in protection of human rights and freedoms and thus, contributing to establishment of civil society. The main activities of the organization include monitoring of public participation in building civil society, human rights protection, holding programs enabling citizens to obtain legal knowledge, providing free legal services to the population (especially to refugees, IDPs and migrants) etc. Since its establishment SHR has implemented a number of projects including publishing books and other distribution materials on election procedures, refugee problems, human rights, NK conflict and management manuals for NGOs. During last years the organization has been mainly focused on the projects aimed at engaging society into peace building process.

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