THE OSCE AS A CRISIS-MANAGEMENT TOOL. ILLUSTRATED BY THE OSCE ACTIVITIES IN CENTRAL ASIA
Some of those who spoke at the seminar yesterday mentioned some sort of inevitable conflict between civil society and the state, with this kind of relations being both conflict-like and constructive at the same time. However, there are conflicts leading to violence, and this type conflicts must be avoided by all means for too many people fall victim to them. To prevent a conflict situation from growing into a full-scale conflict, a large array of means is employed. They are used on all levels, their effectiveness, unfortunately, not always being sufficient enough. And here, as was graphically illustrated by our colleagues in their reports yesterday, civil society, too, is called upon to play its decisive role.
On my part, I shall tell you about non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as part of civil society engaged in conflict-prevention activities, as well as their cooperation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Being humanitarian in nature, this organisation considers the development of civil society, democracy and human rights as an important means of preventing conflicts, which resort to violence as a weapon in the bid to achieve goals.
OSCE Activities to Develop Civil Society as a Crisis-Prevention and Management Tool in the Central Asian Republics of the Former Soviet Union
1. The OSCE and conflict-prevention
During the Cold War, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was used as some sort of a rostrum ensuring the negotiation process between the two opposing blocks. The fall of the Berlin Wall and changes that we witnessed in the early 1990s led to the sweeping reorganisation of the CSCE, with all its goals and missions completely reassessed during the 1992 Helsinki summit. From that time on, the CSCE became increasingly considered as an organisation, with conflict-prevention being its primary goal.
The 1994 Budapest Conference admitted that that the CSCE is interested in cooperation with NGOs as far as the settlement of crisis situations is concerned: “The participating States and CSCE institutions will provide opportunities for increased involvement of NGOs in CSCE activities as foreseen in Chapter IV of the Helsinki Document 1992. They will search for ways in which the CSCE can best make use of the work and information provided by NGOs.”
The above idea is amply confirmed by the European Security Charter adopted at the recent Istanbul Summit: “Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can perform a vital role in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. They are an integral component of a strong civil society. We pledge ourselves to enhance the ability of NGOs to make their full contribution to the further development of civil society and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
2. The OSCE and former Soviet Republics
Remaining a Euro-Atlantic Structure, the CSCE becomes a Eurasian structure, too, since in January 1992 the former Soviet Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia in the Caucasus, as well as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, and Turkmenistan in Central Asia became CSCE full-fledged members.
Thus, the CSCE, having turned into the OSCE, has embraced all former Soviet Republics, which assumed the obligations taken on yet by the Soviet Union, inter alia, those concerning human rights and arms control. The OSCE views them as part of the so-called “Large Europe”.
3. Situation in the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union
1) The presence of tension in the region
There are still several sources of tension in Central Asia. Among them are:
- the crisis affecting all spheres of economic and social life. The Soviet Union having disintegrated, the republics’ national economies found themselves in need of thorough refurbishment.
- the civil war in Tadzhikistan.
- armed conflicts around the perimeter of the republics whose direct and indirect consequences are as follows: an influx of refugees, terrorism in border areas, illegal drug trafficking and arms trade, threat to national minorities, the danger of the religious extremism ideology (the Taliban movement).
- the Fergana Valley, situated in the centre of the area accommodating three republics (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan) can be regarded as a zone of ethnical instability and potential conflicts.
- arbitrariness on the borders and the danger of interstate conflicts.
- ethno-nationalism of Russian minorities (Kazakhstan).
- problems pertaining to the environment and water resources.
2) Human rights record
Structural deficit in democracy
Upon entering the OSCE, the five Central Asian Republics were unable to meet the obligations and norms laid down by the organisation as far as the so-called “human dimension” is concerned (human rights, political pluralism, the rule of law).
So, they had to a posteriori make their legislation and practical activities fully compliant with the OSCE standards.
Uncertainty as regards ethnicity and nationality
The Central Asian Republics were not all that desirous of independence, the latter being more of an accomplished fact. The political elite had to resign themselves to the inevitable and declared their independence in 1991 following the collapse of the centre. Independence was not gained as a result of a national liberation process, which proved to be a reason for the evident fragility of the national self-consciousness of the new states. This kind of fragility and uncertainty was also caused by the fact that the borders established by the Soviet government in 1924-36 had nothing to do with geographic, economic or ethnic expediency. Each republic houses rather big ethnic minorities from at least one of the neighbouring states.
4. Non-governmental organisations and crisis management
NGOs’ activities as regards crisis management can be divided into four phases:
Phase 1: Initial interference including the following actions:
Ø diagnosing the conflict situation and determining participants in future actions, as well as their participation in the planned interference.
Ø sponsoring meetings facilitating dialogue, intermediary activities, reaching a consensus among all parties concerned or working out a joint solution to the problem.
Ø training in theory and practice of managing crisis situations.
Ø encouragement of actions aimed at settling crises on the local level.
Some western NGOs encourage the development of independent NGOs, organisations somehow linked with universities and other educational establishments, as well as other structures on the local level.
Phase 2: Creating opportunities to settle crises on the local level
All goals provided for by Phase 1 having been achieved, further crisis settlement efforts must be focused on bolstering local resources and creating appropriate opportunities for crisis management. Such efforts include raising funds and other resources from external sources, consultations, organisational initiatives, joint efforts aimed at establishing an adequate resource base for training and education, etc.
However, this cannot be regarded as a general rule and some organisations prefer to skip the second phase.
At the same time, some NGOs see the activities provided for by phase 2 as their main mission. They provide appropriate resources, ensure training and guide the organisational activities of local organisations. Some NGOs also deem expedient to establish a certain consortium uniting various local participants into a single local organisation to coordinate crisis-management activity.
Phase 3: Improving the efficiency of crisis management
How can this be achieved?
By means of systematic collection of documentation, as regards settlement and timely prevention of crises.
By means of information exchange between parties involved in the conflict settlement process and parties not participating in the process.
By assessing the results of interference in the crisis situation.
By improving coordination as far as crisis management activities are concerned.
For such organisations’ activities to be useful as regards the local population, their planning must be well coordinated and, if possible, carried out in close cooperation with the latter. Efforts made must be neither excessive, nor counterproductive.
It is deemed expedient to develop machinery designed to document and disseminate information, as well as to assess and improve coordination between the parties involved in crisis management.
Phase 4: The installation of capable establishments
Long-term crisis-management activity requires well-financed and independent NGOs. It must be admitted, however, that the bulk of funds is allocated by the government.
5. The OSCE democratic stabilisation strategy
a) Cooperation between the OSCE and NGOs
In 1994, Warsaw hosted an OSCE seminar on Early Warning and Preventive Diplomacy. The seminar emphasised the role played by NGOs in the global context of preventive diplomacy and in the development of democratic institutions. The seminar participants concluded that cooperation between the OSCE and NGOs could be successful: “Wider participation of NGOs in early warning and preventive diplomacy might as well be quite useful as regards separate states and the OSCE activities as a whole”.