28. Oktober 2008

Starting points for Peace in the South Caucasus

(This text has been taken from:
Starting points for peace in the Caucasus
14.10.2008 / 20:43 CET
Involve civil society, involve women, argue local activists.

(This text has been taken from:
Starting points for peace in the Caucasus
14.10.2008 / 20:43 CET
Involve civil society, involve women, argue local activists.
On 15 October high representatives from the UN, EU and OSCE will meet in Geneva to discuss the security situation in South Caucasus. At a meeting in Istanbul we, representatives from over 20 organisations that reach hundreds of thousands of people across the South Caucasus, agreed on key measures to ensure security in the region. We urge the leaders to listen to us.
To ensure lasting peace in the region the international community must look at the situation in the whole South Caucasus. For over 15 years the conflicts in South Caucasus were frozen. Political leaders were unable to solve the conflicts with peaceful means, with the consequence that one of the conflicts burst out into the open this summer. Good relations between countries must, in all conflict resolution, be based on solving conflicting views on security, borders and natural resources through talks and negotiations. Conflict resolution must be built around dialogue and respect for the views of the other party.
The UN, EU and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) must respect the following demands if they are serious in their efforts to help resolve the conflicts:
1. Leaders of various countries and international organisations should meet not only with high-profile state leaders, but also with local civil-society representatives, in particular women\'s organisations, when they visit the South Caucasus. Since the beginning of the conflicts we have worked to find peaceful solutions. We have mobilised and educated women and worked over conflict lines. We have knowledge, experience and are ready to participate.
2. The international community should facilitate the establishment of a South Caucasus civil-society committee with the purpose of monitoring the security situation for the population in the region, including for women. Regional leaders as well as international actors should consult the committee through a structured dialogue on a regular basis and ahead of high-level political meetings.
3. The international community should give financial support directly to civil-society organisations. They should also follow up financial support channelled through the government, to prevent corruption and ensure that money is disbursed in a democratic way, ie, not only to organisations favouring the ruling party.
4. Support for refugees must be based on consultation with the refugees themselves and organisations working for their rights. The international community, as well as regional leaders must acknowledge that refugees are a diverse group and ensure that support measures are adjusted to individual needs. There is a great risk that men\'s violence against women increases in refugee camps, including trafficking. In the whole South Caucasus there are over 1.5 million refugees, of which a majority is women. Many have lived as refugees for almost 15 years and have been subjected to discrimination and used for political purposes.
5. To ensure democracy, measures must be taken to eradicate discrimination between men and women. Women\'s rights and status in society must be strengthened. In a majority of the countries in the region there are no laws criminalising men\'s violence against women. Throughout the region women are discriminated against in the workplace and in politics. Old traditions still prevail, hindering women\'s access to inheritance and to their own property, and permitting early marriages.
6. In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1325, women from the South Caucasus must be invited to official peace negotiations and be given information well in advance in order to be able to influence the agenda. International civil and military peacekeeping missions should appoint gender advisers.
We, the signatories of this call for action, firmly believe that women\'s equal participation is a prerequisite for development, peace and democracy.
Anti-Violence Network of Georgia, Nato Shavlakadze
Association Avangard, Madlena Kvaratskhelia
Association for the Protection of Women\'s Rights, Novella Jafarova
Association Gaenati, Eka Machavariani
Association Imedi – IDP Women for peace, Kristina Kilanava
Association of South Ossetian Women for Democracy and Human Rights, Lira Kozaeva
Association of Women of Abkhazia, Natella Akaba
Centre of Social and Psychological assistance for women, Marina Gumba
Cultural Humanitarian 'Fund Sukhumi', Alla Gamakharia
Democracy Today, Gulnara Shahinian
Democrat Woman of Samtskhe-Javakheti, Marina Modebazde
Feminist Group of YUVA, Rena Tahirova
Journalist for Human Rights, Irina Yanovskaya
Peace Without Violence, Dalila Pila
Society Without Violence, Anna Arutshyan
The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, Lena Ag
Union of Business Women of Abkhazia, Julia Gumba
Union of Business Women of Gagra, Julietta Leiba
Union of Wives of Invalids and Lost-Warriors, Manana Mebuke
Women\'s Hope, Nana Gelashvili
Women\'s Information Centre, Helen Rusetskaia
Women\'s Institute, Saida Qurbanova
Women\'s Political Resource Centre, Lika Nadaraia
Women\'s Resource Centre, Lara Aharonian
Women\'s Rights Centre, Susanna Vardanayan