Black Sea Peacebuilding Network
Report on the fifth meeting of the representatives of non-governmental organizations and independent experts
On December 28, 2009 the fifth meeting of the experts involved in Georgian component of “The Black Sea Peacebuilding Network” project was held in Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS).
The project is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and in cooperation with the Crisis Management Initiative.
At the meeting, two representatives of the Experts Working Group provided their presentations on the following topics: August 2008 Pre-conflict Period, Peacebuilding Plan and Missed Opportunities (Giorgi Volski – International Centre for Geopolitical Studies) and Women, Gender and Peacebuilding Process (Shorena Lortkipanidze- International Centre on Conflict and Negotiation).
August 2008 Pre-conflict Period, Peacebuilding Plan and Missed Opportunities
As mentioned by the presenter, despite the tensions taking place several times since 2004 during August 2006, some progress has been achieved in terms of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflict resolution. The negotiation formats have been established, concrete agreements have been made, including the implementation of the joint projects of the economic rehabilitation. The issue of financial as well as political participation of the USA and the EU member countries in the processes had been practically solved. The ground for balancing of the leading role of Russia was created.
The presenter emphasized the fact that the actions carried out by the Western countries and the international institutions were inadequate to the expected reaction from Russian side. Also, no proper attention was paid to the prevention of mistakes from Georgian government.
As the expert declared, there is an impression that Georgian government quit the peacebuilding process in a demonstrative way, refused to participate in the negotiations in the existing formats. The declaration of “peacebuilding initiatives” acquired the nature of populist announcements. The aggressive rhetoric, movement of military formations and training them in proximity to the conflict zones have become the norm. The idea of having agreement on the guarantees on non-us of force was rejected.
At this background, Russia addressed practical measures to get prepared for the invasion in the country. She enhanced its military presence in strategically important neighbouring region to Georgia, also putting under question the institutional establishment of Georgia in the European and Euro-Atlantic space.
The expert underlined that the first stage action plan which is based on the State Strategy on the Occupied Territories, should be focused on stronger presentation of the country positions in institutions called for the protection of the international law. I has also aim at restoring the trust among the population of the regions which had been divided by the conflict. Special attention should be paid to the strengthening of democratic institutions in the country, achievement of the common civil consent and stabilisation of economic situation.
As a conclusion, the presenter declared that the main question remains - how capable is the present government to be consistent in achieving of these objectives. The future local elections will give the first answer.
After the presentation an interesting discussion was held between the experts; various opinions and questions were shared concerning the peacebuilding work carried out before 2008. The experts also expressed their opinions about the participation in the elections on the occupied territories. One part of experts mentioned that it is necessary that the remaining Georgian population actively participates in the political process developing on the occupied territory. Other part of experts felt sceptic about the mentioned opinion.
Gender, Women and Peacebuilding Processes
The presenter reviewed the traditional views about the gender roles of women and men. She noted that the men’s opinions prevailed in the peacebuilding field. One of the important arguments is that men initiate and start conflicts and thus, the conflict resolution is their business.
The approach of gender equality have limited the traditional views and opened the way to the new vision, which means “gendering” of peacebuilding process or increasing the women’s role at the stages of peacebuilding such as: the design of the plan of action, its agreement, and implementation, monitoring and peacekeeping.
Based on the presenter’s point of view, the participation of women in peacebuilding is conditioned by the following factors: women and children become the main victims of war/conflict; women take care of food issues; they take care of children and their future; they become the poorest layer after the war; the violence against women is increasing after the war/conflict.
The presenter mentioned that the role of woman varies according to different stages of the conflict.
The role of woman before the war/conflict – is the most important – searching the ways of non-violence, creating the culture of peace, searching the ways for conflict prevention.
The role of woman during the conflict is more humanitarian and protesting;
The role of woman after the war/conflict is restoring/reconstruction; working with the people affected by the war; reaching the reconciliation and forgiveness; creating solid peace guarantees.
The presenter described three directions of peacebuilding by women: women’s actions for peace, increasing antimilitarist and women participation in the decision making structures and thus increasing the women’s influence. The presenter also reviewed the importance of equal participation of women in the conflict response and peacebuilding process as stipulated in the international legislation.
It has been underlined in the presentation that despite the existing opinion that the issue of gender equality is more a subject of political correctness rather than a real and fundamental problem, especially in western society, also in Georgia, the opposite has been proved by the researches. Women still can not enjoy the complete equality in many fields and relevantly, the possibilities of using their resource are limited. From the perspective of peacebuilding, many negotiation formats do not envisage the women participation.
As a conclusion, the presenter mentioned: in order to activate the women’s role in Georgia in the peacebuilding process, the following activities should be elaborated and carried out, which will be widely supported (however the gaining of support means a separate strategy):
To strengthen the women in relation with the peacebuilding, support their initiatives (e.g. in the strategy document concerning the conflict resolution, identify the role of women groups during the negotiation process);
At the end of the presentation, the interesting questions were asked by the experts concerning the possible solution of the reviewed situation in Georgia. The presenter mentioned that the gender component should be integrated in the educational system. Also, the history and literature should be used to study the issue better.
The experts also discussed why the main actors of the conflict are mainly men. It was underlined that the negotiation format often does not allow women to participate in the peacebuilding process more actively.
The current mechanisms of protecting the women against violence during the war and post war period and the effectiveness of those mechanisms have been also discussed. It has been noted that it is desirable to include gender sensitive staff in the peacebuilding missions and that the mission staff should have passed special training.
The discussion also referred the issues that the topic of women, wives and mothers should be actively used during the implementation of peacebuilding initiatives at different levels.
Review of an Agenda for the next meeting of the experts of Black Sea Peacekeping network.
Other issues. End of the meeting
At the end of the meeting the presentations to be provided on the next meeting were discussed. Possible topics include: Pseudo-conflicts and Quasi-peacebuilding Processes in Caucasus (Alexander Rusetski, South Caucasus Regional Security Institute) and – The Present Stage of Implementation of the Action Plan of the Government Strategy on IDPs. (Iulia Kharashvili, „Tankhmoba“ - assocciation of IDP women).
The project is funded by the government of Finland