On February 18-21 2014 the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland, Head of Human Rights Education Department at the NHC Enver Djuliman and the Regional Coordinator of the projects “Coalition of rebuilding of trust” Marion Kipiani visited Georgia and Armenia.
One of the objectives for the visit was to meet local partner NGO-s, as well as representatives of local and international organizations and discuss NHC’s current projects implemented in Armenia and Georgia, and in principle projects and future plans of NHC in South Caucasus.
“The main purpose for visiting Armenia and Georgia for me was to get more information on the progress in implementation of our project “Coalition of rebuilding of trust”. I also used this opportunity to be updated and to learn more about the current challenges in this region and to get more understanding on political situation”, said the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland.
In the framework of the “Coalition of rebuilding of trust” 3 year long project which started in 2012 NHC works with its partner organizations in South Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan), including Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. The “Coalition of rebuilding of trust” is bringing together more than 200 students, journalists and civic activists as network members to build people-to-people contacts and develop new perspectives on conflict transformation.
The project includes capacity building, advocacy, public engagement, and networking on the crucial interconnection of human rights, non-violent conflict transformation, and rebuilding confidence and trust in divided societies.
CSI and Caucasus Institute have organized a series of training workshops in Armenia on the topics related to human rights, conflict transformation and transitional justice.
“When speaking about conflict transformation for many years people in the region had different perceptions and understanding. They mentioned interests of the parties involved, priorities, and rights of the victims. Our work is not aimed at conflict resolution. Our aim is to create a collation for trust which would work for re-establishing trust among people, groups, societies and states and only then towards formation of relationships”, told Enver Djuliman, Head of Human Rights Education Department at the NHC.
“We cannot do a lot with resolving the conflicts in the region, especially the political part of the conflict, but we believe that we can contribute to the better relation between the people in this region and the bases for that is trust. We want to work with rebuilding of trust between individuals, groups and countries, and we have a special aim to establish this “Coalition of rebuilding of trust” which will include individuals, groups, NGOs and other institutions who will work for rebuilding of trust”, said Mr. Djuliman.
He noted that during three years the established coalition would develop its strategy and recommendations for rebuilding of trust. To achieve that, first of all, it is necessary to give knowledge to different groups in project how to define trust, transitional justice, etc., how to work for trust, what to do with memories. And then through public dialogues they will try to achieve positive acceptance of our ideas by public and municipal institutions.
Regional Coordinator of the project Marion Kipiani emphasizes that not only active civil groups are engaged in the project.
“We have included people who have not been involved in such kind of activities and dialogue before. For example, we engaged teachers or ladies who lost husbands in course of the conflict. Of course, on the one hand, there is a certain kind of challenge in this because it is more difficult to work with people who have not participated in many training workshops. But it is also more helpful because in this way we can start to build links between the members of society who are not usually involved in such kind of processes”, told Ms. Kipiani.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was established in 1977. NHC has been working with local partner organizations in South Caucasus during the past few years in the field of human rights monitoring, advocacy, and human rights education.