Ա.Կիրակոսյան, Բ.Ինգենսլանդ, Օ.Բենե
On 8-11 June, 2015 fifty representatives of civil society organizations from the South-Caucasus participated at the regional conference in Istanbul hosted by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The conference was aimed at building trust among the countries in dispute, and establishing a coalition for trust.
The process of establishing Coalition for trust has launched at the end of 2012 with three-year project “Trust Rebuilding Coalition”, which is implemented in cooperation with Norwegian Helsinki Committee and South Caucasus organizations with support provided by Foreign Ministry of Norway and European Commission.
The project includes capacity building in human rights protection in the disputing societies, peaceful resolution of conflicts, rebuilding confidence and trust, as well as advocacy, promotion of public engagement, and establishment of a network. The “Trust Rebuilding Coalition ” brings 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.
During the conference in Istanbul, the Coalition discussed directions of its operation, future activities aimed at rebuilding trust among societies in dispute. Strategy of the Coalition and the Charter were discussed, and approved based on the majority votes of the participants.
Secretary-General of Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland who chaired the event said: “There is a profound lack of trust in the South-Caucasus region, across borders and between groups, of course, but also between institutions and society and within society between ordinary people. Everyone who had come expressed their commitment to help build trust. As a civil society we cannot and will not negotiate peace, that is the work of governments, but we can help build trust in and between societies, through co-operation, dialogue and respect. The participants urged such work to continue.”
Artak Kirakosyan, Chairman of the Civil Society Institute, points out “In the context of geopolitical and democratic or to some extent non-democratic these consistent changes it is more important that the civil society of the region will be able to develop common agenda aimed at building trust. Trust shall be based first of all on the principles of human rights protection and peaceful resolution of conflicts. We are developing such kind of coalition”.
During the conference the regular work aimed at building trust among interested parties was highlighted, considering the challenges of the region, political situation and its changes.