Nonviolent Peaceforce in the South Caucasus has trained a dozen youth living along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) between South Ossetia and Georgia in conflict resolution. The ABL is the epicenter of a lingering unresolved conflict which witnessed violent conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
The four-day training addressed conflict-theories on root causes and included practical exercises in analysis and resolution, human rights, human security, Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping, negotiations and dialogue skills.
“The training gave me hope, I saw there are (nonviolent) tools and methods to resolve our 20-year-conflict. I especially enjoyed the process of finding the best solutions through teamwork,” said one participant.
The 12 youth participants (7 male and 5 female) ranged from ages 17-28, and came from a multitude of background including unemployed farmers, lawyers, students and human rights activists. They were selected as they face a similar broad challenge relevant to NP’s work: the unresolved conflict could again break out in violence often exacerbated by misperceptions that partially fuels the conflict and indeed reinforces it.
The participation was active, and participants reflective. Their own comments mirror what they perceive as the impact of the four days:
“I learned and realized conflict can’t be solved without negotiation, and negotiation can’t be without dialogue of equals, that successful dialogue can’t happen without understanding interest and needs of the other side.”
“This is the first time in my life I realized that conflict can be perceived by different people in different ways. After the training on Human Rights for example, I now believe it is the responsibility of all human beings to protect the rights of other human beings,” said one participant.
The course used experiential methodology, which has previously supported various participants with an opportunity to ‘get in touch with their inner self’ and conceptualise theory into their own reality.
The mission of NP and intervention strategies were used to highlight with practical experiences how Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping is actualized in the Philippines, South Sudan and South Caucus.
The Director of the Institute for the Study of Nationalism and Conflict (ISNC), NP’s local partner whom training was conducted, Nino Kalandarishvili, commented that the course was very successful.
“These youth will stimulate dialogue and using the strength of NP, as I experienced in the exposure visit to NP in the Philippines, and the knowledge and skills of ISNC, we can utilize the narrow path currently available to use dialogue opportunities to impact positively on conflict resolution in the South Caucus Region.”
As a follow-up, the youth who underwent the training participated in a two-day IDP network meeting, from Abkhazia, and a two-day youth conference in late 2012. In addition ISNC has contacted Go-group media, a social media that shares South Caucus life stories for participants to perform documentaries on their personal experiences in the conflict.
NP has already linked all the youth to the existing CIT structures and aims to further strengthen the capacity of the youth in conflict resolution aimed at preventing violence at the grassroots-level.