On 21 October International Alert and Conciliation Resources brought together a number of key local partners from Azerbaijan, Armenia and NK for a joint strategic meeting in London. The aims of the meeting were to discuss key challenges facing implementation in the current context, including the political climate following the escalation of violence on the frontline in August and growing operational constraints, and to identify opportunities and possible ways forward. The meeting organisers also sought to stimulate joint reflection on the implications for the region of EPNK coming to an end, agreement on key advocacy messages and suggested approaches to peacebuilding programming in the given context beyond EPNK.
The meeting was attended by the experts of Alert’s Comparative Learning Group (CLU), media experts who contribute to Alert’s joint journalism initiative Unheard Voices, Conciliation Resources partners engaged in Parts of a Circle, representatives of Alert and CR and the EPNK SCA.
The event provided a much-needed opportunity for peacebuilding actors from different sides of the conflict to come together and discuss the situation after the August escalation and in a context of tension at the political and societal levels unseen since the ceasefire.
In spite of the serious challenges raised, participants drew strength from the fact that they have been able to adapt and continue their work during this period. A key message emerging from the discussions was that at this time the continuation of peacebuilding in the NK context is crucial, but requires great flexibility to ensure activities adhere to the principle of ‘do no harm’ and contribute effectively to maintaining contact between the societies and mitigating escalating tension as far as possible in volatile circumstances. Participants stressed that while ongoing people-to-people contact is vital, there is a great need now for peacebuilding to foster dialogue within the societies to promote values in support of tolerance and peace and counter belligerent narratives.