Preventing renewed violence and conflict resolution

One of the challenges facing the OSCE for the past twenty years has been preventing renewed violence in the so-called “frozen conflicts,” and finding peaceful solutions to them. These conflicts broke out as the former Soviet Union was falling apart during 1989-1992, before the CSCE had an effective conflict prevention mechanism in place.

Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France (left), Matthew Bryza of the United States (centre) and Yury Merzlyakov of Russia, the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, before presenting a statement on Nagorno-Karabakh to the Permanent Council, 6 November 2008.

Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France (left), Matthew Bryza of the United States (centre) and Yury Merzlyakov of Russia, the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, before presenting a statement on Nagorno-Karabakh to the Permanent Council, 6 November 2008.(OSCE)

No long-term solutions have been found since 1992 for the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, two regions of Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), and the Transdniestria region of Moldova—all of which exist at present as international “black holes.” This permits illegal activity to take place in and across these regions, with outsiders unable to exert any influence.

The secessionist regions have achieved varying degrees of de facto independence; although formal independence has not been recognized by most other states in the international community—at least until Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent in late 2008 after its war with Georgia.

OSCE missions were establish in these countries, although the mandate for the OSCE Mission in Georgia was terminated at the end of 2008, when Russia opposed the annual renewal of the mission, and the mission was closed down by the end of June 2009. Primary responsibility of these OSCE missions has been to try to negotiate a resolution to these conflicts through some kind of political settlement of the status of these regions within the sovereign territory of the country in which they are located. None of these efforts has been successful. At the same time, large scale violence has not resumed in these areas, with the exception of the outbreak of fighting in Georgia in August 2008.

This section describes some techniques used to prevent renewed violence and to try to find a lasting resolution of these conflicts, and provides some examples of operations that focus on these areas.