What Peace Five Years After the Signing of the Tajik Peace Agreement? Strategic Conflict Assessment and Peace Building Framework, Tajikistan. In co-authorship with Sabine Frasier. Brussels: The UK Government Global Conflict Prevention Pool., December 2003.
This Strategic Conflict Assessment (SCA) and Peace Building Framework (PBF) for Tajikistan was commissioned and financed by the Russia – Former Soviet Union (FSU) Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) of the UK Government. The purpose of this SCA is to provide background information and analysis of current dynamics which will improve the efficacy of the Russia-FSU GCPP’s support for conflict transformation and peace building programmes in Tajikistan.
The report uses the concept and methodology for Strategic Conflict Analyses and Peace Building Frameworks developed by the Conflict and Humanitarian Aid Department of DFID.
We would like to specially thank Louise Perrotta of DFID’s Europe and Central Europe Department for supporting the preparation of this report. In Dushanbe we were warmly welcomed by Ambassador Michael Smith who provided essential guidance and hosted a fruitful working group discussion with Tajik political experts on the assessment’s findings.
Warmest thanks to the regional expert consultants who provided invaluable support during field visits to different parts of Tajikistan: Mr. Bahrom Mannonov (Asia-Plus Independent News Agency) in Dushanbe, Ms. Fatima Akhmedova (Swiss Peace Foundation) in Sughd, Mr. Turko Dikaev (Asia Plus) and Ms. Anna Konkova (Kulob University) in Kulob, Mr. Sameddin Loikov (OSCE) in Shahrituz and Ms. Jamila Sharipova (OSCE) in Gharm. Thanks also to Ms. Alla Kuvotava (Traditions and Modernity) who prepared an insightful background report on women in post-conflict Tajikistan.
In Tajikistan we were supported extensively by a host of international and national representatives. Substantial support and inputs were graciously given by staff of the OSCE, UNDP Tajikistan, UNDP/RRDP, UNTOP, the Mountain Societies Development and Support Programme (MSDSP) of the Aga Khan Development Network, and Gamkhori a Tajik NGO based in Qurghonteppa.
A large number of persons – many with extremely tight time schedules – took the time to answer extensive questions. To all of them, we would like to extend our sincere thanks.
The views expressed in this SCA are the authors’ own and should not be regarded as a statement of the views or policy of the Government of the UK. Any errors are the authors’ own.
ADB Asian Development Bank
AKDN Aga Khan Development Network
AKF Aga Khan Foundation
ASTI Association of Scientific and Technical Intelligentsia
BBC British Broadcasting Company
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
CIS Commonwealth of Independent States
CNR Commission for National Reconciliation
CPT Communist Party of Tajikistan
DCA Drug Control Agency
DFID Department for International Development
DP Democratic Party
EBRD European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
EU European Union
GBAO Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Province
GCPP Global Conflict Prevention Pool
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GTZ Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit
HRW Human Rights Watch
ICG International Crisis Group
ICNL International Centre for Not-For-Profit Law
ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross
IDP Internally displaced person
IFI International financial institution
IMU Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
IRP Islamic Renaissance Party
MSDSP Mountain Society Development and Support Programme
NGO Non governmental organization
ODIHR Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
OSCE Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
OSI Open Society Institute
PDP People’s Democratic Party
PRSP Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
RRDP Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development Programme
SCA Strategic Conflict Assessment
SDP Social Democratic Party
SIDA Swedish International Development Agency
TACIS Transition Assistance to the CIS
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNHCR United Nations High Commission for Refugees
UNICEF United Nations Children Fund
UNMOT United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan
UNODCCP United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention
UNTOP United Nations Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding
UTO United Tajik Opposition
USAID United States Agency for International Development
WB World Bank
More than five years after the signing of the agreement that brought peace to Tajikistan, no resumption of violent conflict has occurred. Tajikistan is a rare success story of transition from violent conflict to negotiation and the creation of a government including former warring sides. Today Tajikistan is ready to pay a robust price to avoid further bloodshed or a resumption of the 1992-1997 feuds – yet potentials for conflict of diverse intensity continue to exist.
Independent Tajikistan underwent one of the most painful state-building projects of all former Soviet Republics. From 1991, the country experienced a rapid rise in political activism, civil war, an internationally led peace process, the integration of opposition forces into government, disarmament of former combatants, and re-distribution of power amongst regions. While the country has effectively overcome many challenges, it continues to grapple with securing cooperative arrangements with its neighbours, establishing a democratic and decentralised system of governance, and promoting economic development and investment.
The Interdepartmental Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) commissioned this report in 2002 at an opportune time five years after the signing of the Tajik Peace Agreement.
Ms. Sabine Freizer and Professor Kamoludin Abdullaev conducted the SCA in Tajikistan from 7 October to 10 November 2002. The assessment was carried out in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, and in four regions. Qualitative research methodologies were employed. The largest percentage of the data was collected through semi-structured interviews with a range of Tajik and foreign stakeholders including: central and regional governmental officials, political party representatives, religious leaders, academics, journalists, NGO staff, multilateral and bi-lateral agency officers. Several focus group discussions were held in the regions with a cross section of the general population, including women and men from different national/regional groups, in urban and rural settings.
Strategy conflict assessment key findings:
The most significant finding of the strategic conflict assessment (SCA) is that within Tajikistan the state and society demonstrate a surprisingly low structural vulnerability to a resumption of war. Yet the country faces external and internal threats of different intensity, and possesses few effective tools to deal with them. The lack of effective regional conflict mediation mechanisms or Tajik institutions that can play a mediating role should internal conflicts arise, makes Tajikistan vulnerable to a rapid escalation of internal or external tensions.
A. Findings concerning the sources of conflict in Tajikistan:
The experience of the 1992-1997 civil war makes Tajikistan less prone to conflict. Fifty thousand persons lost their lives and more than 650,000 people – one tenth of the population – were displaced. Swayed by a host of factors, including the powerful argument that a continuation of conflict would lead to an irreversible disintegration of the Tajik state, which was contrary to both sides’ nationalist aspirations, the warring factions signed the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National in 1997. Five years later, in 2002 political elites continue to be driven by a common state and nation-building project, the population was engaged in a painful rehabilitation process and was unlikely to be swayed by another call to arms.
The government and opposition cooperated as of 1997 in facilitating the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), repressing extremist peace spoiler groups, organising elections and resisting the pressures of illegal Islamic movements like the IMU and HuT. The 30% quota granted to UTO, and the legalisation of the IRP, provided part of the opposition a voice in state affairs, but did not lead to the formation of a coalition government. The role of political Islam remains an issue of controversy and debate in Tajikistan today.
External sources of conflict:
Since early 2002, Tajikistan has benefited from stabilisation in Central Asia caused by international intervention in Afghanistan. Tajikistan’s security is highly dependent on its relations with its generally larger and more powerful neighbours – Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and to a lesser extent China.
For the past ten years, instability in Afghanistan has caused negative side effects in Tajikistan, including the transfer of drugs, weapons and armed groups. While international intervention in Afghanistan has reduced the threat of Islamic insurgents crossing into Tajikistan, it has not affected the drug trade or incidences of low-level violence on the Tajik-Afghan border. 2002 proved to be a peak opium production year. Tajikistan is a main transit for narcotics from Afghanistan –it is estimated that 80% of the EU heroin’s supply originates in Afghanistan. Trafficking through Tajikistan generates violence, crime, corruption, illegal revenue and steadily rising addiction rates.
Squeezed between Russia and China, Tajikistan shares good relations with both powers. Russia is Tajikistan’s main guarantor of stability and continued to have some 25,000 military on Tajik soil in 2002. Relations between Tajikistan and China are based on common interests in combating Islamic extremism and trafficking, and promoting trade.
Tajik and Uzbekistan relations are characterised by mistrust and are often tense. The two countries’ understanding of the sources of terrorism and of the nature of political Islam is in conflict. Yet there are no “age-old rivalries” among Tajik and Uzbek people; existing conflicts generally involve the private interests of ruling elites and political entrepreneurs.
Border disputes between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, are a source of tension, which is progressively being toned down through the official demarcation of borders. Yet militarised borders are likely to remain a cause of problems, because of the negative effect they have on freedom of movement, resource exchange, and information sharing.
Internal sources of conflict:
Within Tajikistan itself, the potential for conflict has diminished as the peace building process resolved many of the power sharing tensions between the former warring parties – between the government and the UTO, and between different regional groups – that had originally fuelled the war. Nevertheless progress towards stability has not been accompanied by greater openness, democratisation, or decentralisation.
The Tajikistan state-building process, where the central government has struggled to assert control over the entire country, is coming to a closure. It is being accompanied by a centralisation of power in the hands of the Presidency, which other governmental structures have accepted with little resistance. Government in Tajikistan is based on a network of patron: client relations. This contributes to the generally poor quality of public sector administration and services, and to popular dissatisfaction with government; the system increases opportunities for corruption and poor governance.
Power sharing between the centre and the regions remains tenuous, though the central government has proven to be adept at balancing different regional interests. While Sughd was the region considered the most likely to secede, today such aspirations have diminished. Instead the greatest region-based dissatisfaction is now in Khatlon, the birthplace of the Tajik President and of the Mayor of Dushanbe.
The biggest upcoming test of Tajikistan’s post-war power-sharing mechanisms are the planned 2005 and 2006 elections. The referendum held in June 2003 will enable President Rahmonov to serve for an additional two, seven year terms. It is not yet clear how the referendum results will affect potential presidential candidates in the run up to elections.
Competition between political parties pits the People’s Democratic Party against the Islamic Renaissance Party but political party development and political dialogue remain weak in the country. The vast majority of the population shows little interest in party politics. All parties lack institutionalised ties between voters, leaders, candidates, and activists. They possess an amorphous infrastructure and party programme.
Wartime strains between the government, the clergy, and political Islam have not been entirely resolved. There are few forums for dialogue between secular and religious leaders. Yet the international war on terror has offered President Rakhmonov and his entourage a political opportunity to criticise and curb political Islam – a Presidential speech in July 2002 in Isfara, insinuating that Al-Quaeda terrorists had connections with the IRP, led to de-registration of mosques and imams. Our predictions are that these strains are likely to increase in the pre-election period. In 2002 there were no well-founded signs of activism by terrorist Islamic movements in Tajikistan.
Tensions over de-commissioning and re-integration of former combatants have diminished significantly by 2002, though some former field commanders continued to wield power at the local level and Tajik security forces remained weak and un-professional.
Socio-economic sources of conflict
While much of the peace building process focussed on resolving political and military challenges, it was less effective at addressing wider security challenges, including economic, social and rights-based ones. Poverty, un-employment, corruption, high external debt, and ineffective rule of law were formidable threats to the country’s stability and development in 2002.
In Tajikistan “extreme poverty is the central development issue […] 83% of the nation lives under the national poverty line, the average monthly income is less than $7, and the Gross National Income per capita is $170.” According to numerous analysts, poverty is also the main potential source of future conflict.
With the breakup of the USSR and the civil war, infrastructure, communication links, and social services were devastated. Tajikistan’s population growth rapidly outpaced the creation of new housing, infrastructure, employment, irrigated lands, etc. In 1990 insufficient housing in Dushanbe sparked riots – the lack of public resources and services has been exploited in the past to create conflict, and the potential for this to occur again is likely to increase with the ongoing population rise. In March 2002 women in Kulob, reacting to a lack of services, demonstrated and threw stones at the Deputy Prime Minister of Tajikistan.
Land reform and re-organisation of state farms is a potential source of tension in Tajikistan. The 65% of the population dependent on agriculture is competing for the 4% of the country’s arable land. The re-organisation of state farms, which has been ongoing since 1997, has increased disparities between land owning and landless farmers, with the vast majority of former state farm workers deprived of land ownership rights. While privatisation has been advocated by the international financial institutions, few safeguards have been put in place to ensure that its is undertaken equitably and effectively.
High unemployment has caused substantial out-migration to Russia – between 500,000 and 1 million Tajiks a year – which has provided the country with significant (un-taxed) remittances, but is a potential source of instability should the migrants be forced to return to their homeland. A law passed in Russia in November 2002 on the status of foreign citizens risks leading to new deportations of Tajiks, or a reduction in the seasonal migrations, which usually begin from Tajikistan in the Spring.
Political command over resources is within the hands of a restricted number of ruling elites who manage government institutions, legal institutions, and economic processes, with the aim of serving their private interests. Though it is difficult in the context of a study such as this to offer any empirical or quantitative data on corruption, anecdotal evidence suggests that these authorities are knowledgeable about and participate in the misuse of international credit provided to governmental institutions, tax fraud, barter deals, illegal production, smuggling, and protection rackets. Such ingrained corruption is likely to breed instability.
Gender aggregated statistics demonstrate a widening gender gap, and a worsening situation for women in economic, political and social spheres of life. Tensions have begun to surface between men and those women who defy traditional social practices, and work in the market or in small businesses. Many youth suffer from a form of identity “crisis” which pushes them to become marginalised, engage in anti-social behavior and join criminal gangs.
Few respected mediating and conflict resolution mechanisms exist in Tajikistan. Human rights organisations allege frequent incidents of torture, degrading punishment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and denial of fair trial. The vast majority of the population does not trust the judiciary or security bodies to be independent, un-biased, or fair. Freedom of the media is severally constrained, though in Fall 2002 there were positive steps that gave voice to three new Dushanbe radio stations. Civil society organisations have little or no experience of monitoring state activities, lobbying and advocacy.
B. Findings concerning conflict triggers:
While a host of sources of conflict exist in Tajikistan, the society demonstrates a low structural vulnerability to violence or a resumption of war. This is largely due to the existence of a consensus among elite groups and political entrepreneurs concerning the necessity of protecting the national state-building project and because of the successful distribution of “war-spoils” – positions and resources – between them. However this consensus is not based on an equitable distribution of wealth and resources among all Tajik regions and stratum of society. The Tajik state and society continue to have little potential to manage or contain conflict. There are few Tajik institutions that can play a mediating role – opposition political parties, independent media, an effective judiciary, an active civil society all lack capacity. At the regional level the threat of conflict is also significant due to the absence of adequate mediating mechanisms between Tajikistan and its neighbours.
Significant conflict triggers are likely to be changes in Russian legislation and increases in anti-Muslim sentiments in Russia, which may push out a percentage of the Tajik labour force working there. Tajikistan will lose the remittances, on which it depends, and will experience a strong increase in unemployment.
As indicated above, Tajikistan benefited from the international intervention in Afghanistan and the ensuing stabilisation of the country. However many of Afghanistan’s problems have not yet been resolved; any deterioration in the situation in Afghanistan is likely to have a negative impact on regional stability, especially in Tajikistan.
To date tensions between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have been localised in nature – and largely non-violent – but they are likely to increase substantially should there be any increase in tensions between north and south Kyrgyzstan, or between ethnic groups living in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Within Tajikistan, a further de-legitimisation of the IRP and political Islam is a trigger that might fuel tensions as they did in Isfara after President Rakhmonov’s July 2002 speech condemning Islamic extremism.
Conflict could develop out of rivalries among Kulob political entrepreneurs. The population in Kulob is extremely dissatisfied and frustrated, and has already participated in demonstrations. No clear political leader or force has attempted to mobilise people to date. Yet there are political authorities that may take the lead should they feel that their interests are further compromised.
The 2005 and 2006 elections provide an opportunity for “positive conflict” to emerge between political rivals. However to insure that disputes are resolved adequately requires improvement of democratic procedures, political party structures, electoral mechanisms and legislation. The run-up to the elections may be accompanied by increased nervousness and by efforts by the President and his supporters to suppress opposition within his party, and outside it.
Deepening poverty, and the increase of inequalities in Tajikistan, are likely to cause resentment among segments of the population, which may lead to the further development of security threats such as violent crime and drug trafficking, and of fundamentalist forms of Islam. Inadequate access to basic infrastructure and services may cause some segments of the population to take to the streets.
C. Findings concerning international responses to conflict:
During its recent history, Tajikistan remained largely outside of the international development limelight; this changed after September 2001. Since then, Tajikistan’s bilateral links have grown significantly, as has the size of international development programmes in the country.
The lead organisation responsible for supporting the implementation of the Tajik peace agreement – the UN Tajikistan Office for Peace-building (UNTOP) – is at the time of writing redirecting its efforts to include wider conflict prevention and stability promotion in its programmeme. The UNDP, which has been present in Tajikistan since 1994, is also shifting its focus from post-conflict rehabilitation to development. OSCE plans to continue advocating the improvement of human rights protection, freedom of the media, free and fair elections, increase in women’s participation – and to develop a regional focus for its work. The EU has recently completed the definition of a new Strategy Paper 2002-2006 and Indicative Programmeme for Central Asia 2002-2004.
Tajikistan cooperates with all of the main international financial institutions including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank.
The main governments providing grants to the country in 2002-2003 are the US, Japan, and Switzerland, and to a lesser extent Germany and the UK. USAID’s support exponentially increased to $40 million in 2002-2003. The main goal of US conflict prevention programmes is to improve livelihoods and infrastructure to help guarantee normalisation and reduce the attractiveness of participation in illicit activities. The Swiss government has distinguished itself by specialising in the funding and implementation of conflict resolution and prevention programmes in Tajikistan and the Ferghana Valley.
Few international NGOs are focussed on the implementation of conflict prevention or peace building projects in Tajikistan. Many of the international NGOs which are working on conflict are not based in the country but operate from outside. On the other hand, a host of development orientated international NGOs operate in Tajikistan. Since 1992, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) implements the most extensive programme.
Overall international support to the peace-building process has helped secure peace and stability. Today international programmes have virtually completed the transition from relief and rehabilitation to development. However due to the host of tensions that exist in Tajikistan and in the broader region, development interventions must continue to take into consideration their impact on conflict. Some of the issues, which the SCA analyses in more detail are: projects for former field combatants; the impact of conflict resolution and mediation at the local level vs. political intervention with the state; “stable” development vs. “fair” development; and credit programmes’ effect on conflict.
Overview of peace-building framework for Tajikistan:
The strategic conflict assessment reveals that Tajikistan faces a host of internal and external threats that may play on one another to explode into more significant conflict. As Tajikistan possesses few mechanisms to moderate internal and external conflicts, the peace-building framework calls for the development of a comprehensive approach to assist Tajikistan develop regional and internal conflict prevention and mediation tools.
At the regional level, the framework recommends that the UK, working in close cooperation with other governments and inter-governmental institutions, assist in generating political will for regional cooperation; in facilitating dialogue between Central Asia states; and in promoting co-operative security arrangements. More specifically the GCPP should consider ways to support existing regional projects – such as those of the UN ODCCP and the OSCE – and to facilitate new forms of regional cooperation. In addition, the GCPP should actively seek out projects that have a cross-border component.
Within Tajikistan, the GCPP main aim should be to strengthen Tajikistan’s conflict mediation mechanisms by improving people’s opportunities to:
– Non-violently express their dissatisfaction with government and ruling elite policies and programmes through the democratic process.
– Obtain and exchange independent and complete information on incidents and decisions occurring in the country through the strengthening of independent media and the higher education system.
– Participate in local decision-making and policy formulation through reform of local self-governance bodies and the development of more effective community development institutions.
– Monitor how ruling elites make decisions concerning international funds and their use through media and civil society.
– Protect their interests through independent and neutral judicial bodies and traditional conflict resolution mechanisms.
The full peace-building framework provides more details of programmes, projects, and organisations that the GCPP may consider supporting or cooperating with.
Independent Tajikistan has undergone one of the most painful state-building projects of all the former Soviet Republics. Since 1991 the country experienced a rapid rise in political activism, civil war, an internationally led peace process, the integration of opposition forces into government, disarmament of former combatants, and re-distribution of power amongst regions. The Interdepartmental Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) commissioned this report in autumn 2002 at an opportune time five years after the signing of the Tajik Peace Agreement. Celebrations marked the five-year anniversary. Tajikistan is widely considered to be a valuable success story of internationally supported peace-building. Today Tajikistan is ready to pay a robust price to avoid further bloodshed after the 1992-1997 conflict that caused an estimated 50,000 deaths and disappearances. Yet potentials for conflict of different intensity continue to exist.
This report was written a few months after the completion of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper which was prepared after two years of intensive dialogue between the Tajik government, members of civil society, and the international community. The PRSP outlines the major issues that the Government plans to address in the next three years.
Organisation of the study:
The SCA was conducted in Tajikistan from 7 October – 10 November 2002 by Ms. Sabine Freizer and Professor Kamoludin Abdullaev. The assessment was carried out in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, and in four regions: Sughd province (Khujand and Isfara) Western Khatlon (Qurghonteppa and Shahrituz), Eastern Khatlon (Kulob) and the Karategin Valley (Gharm and Jirgital). Due to time constraints, the region of GBAO was not visited and is largely left uncovered in this study – potentials for conflict in this region were thus not fully investigated.
Local consultants provided invaluable assistance in each region: Mr. Bahrom Mannonov (Asia-Plus Independent News Agency) in Dushanbe, Ms. Fatima Akhmedova (Swiss Peace Foundation) in Sughd, Mr. Turko Dikaev (Asia Plus) and Ms.Anna Konkova (Kulob University) in Kulob, Mr. Sameddin Loikov (OSCE) in Shahrituz and Ms. Jamila Sharipova (OSCE) in Gharm. Additional support and inputs were given by staff of the OSCE, the UNDP/RRDP, UNTOP, the Mountain Societies Development and Support Programme (MSDSP) of the Aga Khan Development Network, and Gamkhori a Tajik NGO based in Qurghonteppa. We are also grateful to UK Ambassador Michael Smith for his assistance, and for hosting a working group discussion with Tajik political experts on the assessment’s findings.
The first part of this report consists of a SCA based on the methodology developed by DFID. As indicated in the term of reference, the key outputs of this paper are:
– A strategic analysis of the sources of conflict in Tajikistan, and the definition of possible conflict triggers.
– Analysis of past and current responses to conflict.
– Identification of practical and concrete options for interventions to support peace building and conflict prevention.
The second part contains a peace-building framework and recommendations which may serve as the basis for a three-year programme of interventions to be submitted to the GCPP.
Qualitative research methodologies were employed to collect data for this assessment. Most of the data was collected through semi-structured interviews with a range of Tajik and foreign stakeholders including: central and regional governmental officials, political party representatives, religious leaders, academics, journalists, NGO staff, multilateral and bi-lateral agencies (see Annex 1 for a full list of interviews). Several focus group discussions were held in the regions with a cross section of the general population, including women and men from different national/regional groups, in urban and rural settings. Information was also gathered from academic writing on Tajikistan and Central Asia, international and Tajik agencies’ project documents, participatory observation in Tajikistan, international and local media sources.
Part one: Strategic Conflict Assessment:
1. SOURCES OF CONFLICT IN TAJIKISTAN:
1.1 Profile, physical characteristics, and demography:
The Republic of Tajikistan was established as an independent country after the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. Formed in 1924 as a Soviet Republic, Tajikistan was the poorest and most dependent of all republics on allocations from Russia. In 2001 Tajikistan was ranked 110th out of 174 in the Human Development Index (97th in 1996), with a deficient GDP per capita of -$159.6 (+ $462 in 1991) but a high adult literacy rate of approximately 90 %.
Tajikistan’s population growth is rapidly outpacing the creation of new housing, social infrastructure, employment, irrigated lands, etc. The population was estimated in 2002 at 6.3 million. In 1926, the country’s population was 1 million, in 1970, 2.9 million, and in 1991, 5.4 million. The average family size in 1989 was 6.1 persons/family, and it is estimated to have grown in the past ten years. The country covers 143,100 square km, yet the majority of the population live in valleys, which constitute only 7% of the country’s territory.
Physical factors make Tajikistan vulnerable to conflict for it is surrounded by more powerful countries, and its territory is divided by mountains, into separate regions with specific political features, and peripheral areas that historically had closer links with neighbouring countries than with the capital. Tajikistan lies in the heart of Central Asia and is bordered on the south by Afghanistan (1344 km), on the east by China (511 km), on the north and west by Kyrgyzstan (590 km) and Uzbekistan (1363 km). It is situated far from seas and oceans. More than half of the country lies at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. Tajikistan’s territory can be divided roughly into four parts: the north (Sughd province), the east (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province), the center (Districts of Republican Subordination: Dushanbe and Hisor and Karategin Valleys), and the south (Khatlon Province). Like other Central Asian countries, Tajikistan has a dry sharply continental climate. Tajikistan has rich water resources, including snow, ice, and glaciers; it possess 64 per cent of the Central Asia water resources. Yet scarce condensation has led to a dependence on irrigation, and only 51.2% of the population has access to clean water.
2.1 History of recent violent events:
The competition for power began soon after Tajikistan declared its independence in September 1991. The first popular elections were held in November 1991 when Rakhmon Nabiev (CP leader in 1982-1986) won a majority. The opposition – made up of a coalition including the Democratic Party and Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) – contested the results and organised public demonstrations in Dushanbe. In March 1992, the demonstrations continued, and a counter-force composed mainly of governmental supporters from Kulob and Leninabad regions began to assemble. Open armed clashes between the two blocks erupted in early May, when the opposition captured key governmental installations in the capital. To reduce tensions, a compromise agreement was made allowing Nabiev to remain President, but providing opposition representatives a place in the so-called Government of National Reconciliation. This solution was short-lived. Nabiev resigned on 7 September to be replaced by Iskandarov Akbarsho. On 23-24 October 1992 heavy battles between pro-Nabiev and pro-opposition forces shook the capital causing hundreds of civilian deaths. On 10 November Iskandarov called a special session of the Supreme Soviet in Khujand which on 18 November accepted his resignation and elected a Kulabi, Emomali Rakhmonov, as Supreme Soviet Chairman. After opposition forces were routed from Dushanbe, on 14 December 1992 Rakhmonov took his post in the capital.
From Spring 1992 onwards, the conflict spread from Dushanbe to the periphery, and its “ruralisation” took place. From 1992 to 1997, violence ravaged through Khatlon, the Karategin Valley, and areas surrounding Dushanbe. Gradually, the war took on an inter-regional character, pitting the Popular Front (“Sitodi Melli”) – led by Kulobis, backed by Khujandis, Hisoris and Uzbeks from Khatlon – against groups originating mainly from the Karategin Valley and Gorno-Badakshan – united in the Rescuing the Motherland group (“Najoti Vatan”), later the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). In 1997-1998, another rivalry developed when forces commanded by Colonel Mahmud Khudoberdyev, and allegedly supported by Uzbekistan, attempted first to take control of the capital, and in 1998 of Sughd province.
An internationally facilitated peace process under the aegis of the UN and with the participation of Russia and Iran began in April 1994. The series of talks between the government of President Rakhmonov and the United Tajik Opposition ended on 27 June 1997 with the signing in Moscow of the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord. The UN opted for a relatively narrow but realistic peace making formula that focused on ending warfare. Because of this “security first” approach, the interests of some political forces (regions, parties, national communities) were not represented in the negotiations. The UTO and the Government both defended minimalist positions to reach compromise.
As a result of the brutal civil war, up to 50,000 people lost their lives and more than 650,000 people – one tenth of the population – were displaced. More than 35,000 homes were destroyed. The total war damage is estimated to be $7 billion.
2.2 History and outcome of the peace-building process:
After the 1997 signing of the peace agreement, a Commission for National Reconciliation (CNR) with equal representation from the Government and the UTO was created to implement the agreement. According to the General Agreement, the transition period would end with the organisation of parliamentary elections, which were held in Spring 2000.
Elections sealed the peace process and laid the foundations of a democratic Tajik state. Presidential elections in 1999 gave President Emomali Rakhmonov a seven-year mandate. Elections for the Parliamentary Chamber of Representatives were held in February 2000. The OSCE declined to monitor the Presidential elections; it observed the 2000 Parliamentary elections together with UNMOT and concluded that, though elections signaled an important benchmark in the implementation of the peace plan, they did not meet minimum standards. Parliament (Majlisi Oli) is composed of two chambers, the Chamber of Representatives (Majlisi Namoyandagon) is elected to five-year terms and consists of 63 deputies and the 33 seat National Chamber (Majlisi Melli) is partly elected (April 2000) and partly appointed by the President. Three political parties were represented in the 2002 Parliament: the Communist Party, the Islamic Renaissance Party and the People’s Democratic Party.
Peace-building in Tajikistan has largely been considered a success. The government and opposition cooperated successfully in facilitating the return of refugees and IDPs, repressing extremist peace spoiler groups, organising elections and resisting the pressures of illegal Islamic movements like the IMU and HuT. The 30% quota granted to UTO, and the legalisation of the IRP, provided the opposition with a place in government, but did not lead to the formation of a true coalition government. Many opposition members joined the party in power (PDP) – others, former influential field commanders especially, were gradually marginalised or suspended their political activities.
2 CURRENT SOURCES OF TENSION AND CONFLICT:
2.1 Relations between Tajikistan and its neighbours, external security issues:
Tajikistan has significantly benefited from stabilisation in Central Asia caused by international intervention in Afghanistan, especially since Fall 2001 from a newfound interest for cooperation among international policy makers and donors promoting regional stability. Tajikistan’s willingness to participate in the regional “war against terrorism” has been positively recognized by Western governments. Allied armed forces used Tajik airspace and facilities. Several humanitarian organizations based in Afghanistan delivered humanitarian goods through Tajikistan.
2.1.1 Tajik relations with Afghanistan:
Since independence, Tajikistan’s affairs have been closely intertwined with those of Afghanistan. An estimated 1.3 million ethnic Tajiks live in Afghanistan. From 1992-1996 more than 80,000 Tajiks, mostly linked with the Islamic opposition, fled to northern Afghanistan, which was also used by the UTO as its military and political Springboard. For nearly seven years, with Russia’s consent, and within the context of the Collective Security Treaty, Tajikistan served as a base for provision of support to the Tajik dominated Northern Alliance troops in Afghanistan. Tajikistan has been a haven for Afghans fleeing violence in their country for over a decade. For the past ten years instability in Afghanistan has caused negative side effects in Tajikistan including the transfer of drugs, weapons, and armed insurgents.
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Tajikistan officially declared its willingness to cooperate with the US-led campaign to combat terrorism in Afghanistan. It believed that its role in the reconstruction of a post-Taliban Afghanistan would grow, because of its ties with the former Northern Alliance leadership and its ability to act as a bridge for countries with an interest in Afghanistan. Tajikistan expected that the elimination of the terrorist threat on its southern border would help bring it out of isolation, attract much needed international financial investment and aid to the region, and close many of the drug and weapons trafficking pipelines which spread from Afghanistan. Since early 2002 Tajikistan’s cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan has been on the increase. The two sides initiated an intensive political dialogue especially with regards to border protection, drug trafficking, and trade and technical cooperation. Instructors from the 201st Russian division and the Tajik army started to train junior commanders of the Afghan armed forces in 2002. In November 2002 the first out of five planned bridges to connect Tajikistan and Afghanistan was opened outside Khorog.
In an attempt to secure a partnership position with the US and European countries, President Rakhmonov has promoted Tajikistan as a stable country with a strong centralised government. Rakhmonov portrays the strengthening of his personal power base as a necessary pre-requisite to fight real and imagined extremists within the country. In a sign that he could pursue his own war against terrorism, President Rakhmonov accused the IRP of extremism in Isfara in June 2002 (see below). In an attempt to deepen cooperation with the US, Rakhmonov also took steps to acquiesce to Washington’s requests to act more decisively in preventing narco-trafficking from Afghanistan. Consequently some of the corrupt officers of the Tajik border guards were removed in 2002, including two prominent former Popular Front field commanders, as well as chairmen of the state committees on customs, protection of borders, and taxes.
While international intervention in Afghanistan reduced the threat of Islamic insurgents crossing into Tajikistan, and most probably eliminated the IMU’s fighting capabilities, it has not affected the drug trade or incidences of low-level violence on the Tajik-Afghan border (see more below). Tajiks living on the Afghan frontier were still regularly subject to hostage taking and theft of livestock by Afghan criminal elements in 2002.
2.1.2 Tajik relations with Russia and China:
Russia is Tajikistan’s main guarantor of stability and only strategic partner. In 1999 an agreement was reached formalising the presence of Russian military bases in Tajikistan. Russia continued to have some 25,000 military present on Tajik soil in 2002. Approximately 11,000 Russian border guards cooperated with Tajik forces to protect the Tajik-China border – which the Russians started to hand over to Tajiks in 2002 – as well as parts of the Tajik-Afghan frontier. The majority of soldiers serving in the Russian border forces and the 201 Russian Motor Rifle Division are Tajiks. There is very little anti-Russian sentiment. The Tajik Islamic opposition does not oppose the Russian presence in Tajikistan, but according to IRP Chairman Nuri, is less eager to welcome the establishment of other long term ‘foreign military bases’ in the country.
Relations between Tajikistan and China are based on common interests in combating Islamic extremism and drug trafficking and promoting cross-border trade. There are no grounds for suggesting that Tajikistan could support Uighur separatism in Western China, or the irredentist feelings of 25-30 thousand Tajik nationals living in Xinjiang province (adjacent to Tajik GBAO). Tajikistan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (former “Shanghai Five” forum). In summer 2002, Tajikistan signed an agreement on border delimitation with China, solving a historical border dispute, and relinquished some 992 km2 of disputed Eastern Pamir territory to China. The Tajik governmental position was that the territorial concession was insignificant compared with what the Chinese obtained from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and that this concession would improve the Tajik bid to reach the harbour of Karachi via the Karakorum highway in China. On the other hand, the Tajik opposition stated that it will use this territorial concession as a political issue in the forthcoming election campaign in 2005-2006; Mr Nuri has expressed his disagreement with the government’s hand over of Tajik land.
2.1.3 Tajik relations with Uzbekistan:
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Tajik: Uzbek relations have been characterised by mistrust and have often been tense. Uzbekistan has played an important, yet ambivalent role in war and peace in Tajikistan. In 1992-1993, Uzbekistan supported the Popular Front in its struggle against the Islamic opposition and encouraged the rise of Emomali Rakhmonov. President Karimov helped initiate the Tajik peace process and played an active role in talks. However more recently, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have blamed each other for harbouring militant opponents seeking to overthrow their respective governments. In 1998, military bands under the command of Tajik colonel Khudoiberdyev attacked Khujand from Uzbek territory. In 1999 and 2000, IMU troops crossed through Tajik territory to reach Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Since 2000, Uzbekistan has introduced a visa regime with Tajikistan, and has refused to allow direct air flights with its close neighbour.
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are in conflict over their understanding of the sources of terrorism and of the nature of political Islam. Uzbekistan uses the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism as a pretext to oppress any kind of dissent, while in Tajikistan there is a UN supported toleration of Islamic opposition. Uzbekistan considers that Tajikistan serves as a haven for radical Islamic groups – especially in 1999-2001 for the IMU. Uzbekistan furthermore has acted on its fears that a part of the substantial Tajik population living in Uzbekistan may support Islamic extremism. Following the 2000 IMU incursions in Uzbekistan, Uzbek authorities forcibly displaced some 2000 mainly Tajik national households in the southern Surkhandarya province over accusations that they aided the invaders. While Tajikistan has clearly been displeased with these actions, it has not reacted in ways which are likely to cause further deterioration of relations.
There are no “age-old rivalries” among Tajik and Uzbek people, and recent conflicts have generally involved the private interests of ruling elites and political entrepreneurs. In border zones between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, there is an active and mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services. Yet lack of information-exchange and contacts between people living in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan during the past 10 years have led to an increase in misperceptions, distrust and hostility. Since 2001, some improvements in governmental relations have been observed. In February 2002, four documents on cooperation with regard to use of water and energy resources; crossing points on the Tajik-Uzbek border; the restructuring of Tajik debt; and the transportation of cargo, gas and fuel were signed.
2.1.4 Regional border disputes:
The strengthening of borders in Central Asia over the past several years has interrupted age-old flows of information and goods, and has become an obstacle to freedom of movement for citizens. The establishment of visa regimes – with visas available only in capitals and at high prices for local people – has made cross border travel extremely difficult. Interactions between populations and families living on either side of the state borders, which used to share a political system, language, economy and way of life, have sharply decreased. Tajikistan is dependent on its neighbour’s road and rail links to access external markets. The closure of borders thus makes it possible to impose a complete blockade on the country. In Spring 2002, Kazakhstan stopped the Dushanbe-Moscow train for several weeks causing dissatisfaction, tensions among Tajik labor migrants, and large-scale economic losses. Tajik migrants traveling through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have regularly been the victims of robbery, bribery, and physical violence.
Demarcation of borders between Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan continue to be the subject of on-going discussions. On 6 October 2002 in Dushanbe, Presidents Karimov and Rakhmonov signed an agreement on the demarcation of 1100 km out of total 1283 km border they share. The remaining un-demarcated border is located in the Sughd region. The Kyrgyz-Tajik intergovernmental commission on border issues started its work in December 2002. Tajikistan and its neighbours have generally accepted Soviet administrative borders and have not used the demarcation process as an occasion to re-open historical irredentist territorial claims.
For the past several years, Uzbekistan has severely limited the cross-border movement of people and goods from Tajikistan in the name of security – to defend its territory against terrorism, IMU infiltrators, drug trafficking, and smuggling. There have been numerous reports of Tajik citizens being beaten by Uzbek border forces for not paying a sufficiently high bribe to enter Uzbekistan. In 2000, Uzbekistan decided to mine its border with Tajikistan (Sughd region) in three locations. Land mines placed by Uzbek border forces – often on disputed or Tajik territory – have caused the accidental deaths of 53 persons, and 66 serious injuries (OSCE, April, 2002). Uzbekistan allegedly started to de-mine parts of the border in late Summer 2002.
Border issues between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have been another source of tension. The 590 km border has not been officially demarcated, and both countries have enclaves in the other’s territory in the Ferghana Valley. According to a May 1998 agreement between the two countries, two official control and customs points were to be established for the control of goods transiting through Tajik territory (Sughd region) to and from Kyrgyzstan. However since 2000 between Sughd and Batken, checkpoints and block posts have been established, violating the 1998 Agreement. Tajikistan claims that it is necessary to establish the controls to protect its internal market and to limit smuggling. According to some estimates up to $700,000 in tax revenue is lost annually by Tajikistan due to smuggling along these routes. Kyrgyzstan sees the posts as an obstacle to freedom of movement, and in response has set up posts at the entrance of the Tajik enclave of Vorukh; this has a negative effect on the movement of Tajik nationals. It has been reported that on 11 August 2002, fifteen armed men invaded Tajik territory and detained three Tajik custom officers from Isfara, keeping them in captivity in Kyrgyzstan for 31 hours. Such incidents, coupled with the general reduction in freedom of movement and increased militarisation increase tensions in the region. The border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, delimiting the regions of Osh (Kyrgyz) and Jirgital (Tajik), has been less tense, though illegal trafficking of goods, drugs and weapons are alleged to occur.
One highly positive conflict mitigation and resolution mechanism that has been established between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is a representative office of Osh and Batken provinces (Kyrgyzstan) in the Sughd provincial government building, and the establishment of a Sughd representation office in Osh since 2000. Due to their willingness to engage in open dialogue, many of the border and related problems between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are resolved at the local, or regional level – preventing escalation of disputes in the enclaves and along their borders. Unfortunately such institutional conflict mitigation mechanisms and channels do not exist between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The long awaited Uzbek consulate in Khojand has not yet opened as of early 2003. Uzbekistan also continues to refuse to take part in many internationally supported conflict prevention and resolution projects with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
2.1.5 Security in the Ferghana Valley:
The overall security situation in the Ferghana Valley, and in Sughd Province, has been affected by the US military presence in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. There were no significant IMU incursions in 2002. Uzbekistan has decreased its threats of armed action against its neighbours. Unlike in 1999 and 2000, a direct military invasion by Uzbekistan into Sughd seemed highly improbable in late 2002.
However the militarisation of borders in the Ferghana Valley starting in 1999 by Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan as a response to Islamic militant incursions, remain a source of tension. The presence of military and armed border forces has added a military dimension to local level social and economic disputes over land, water, and employment.
2.1.6 Sharing of resources:
Tajikistan is well endowed with national resources, especially water, yet the sharing of national resources is a frequent source of conflict with its neighbours, especially Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan consumes 11% of the region’s water resources leaving the rest to other Central Asian states. Introducing fees for water could exacerbate interstate conflict. So far, barter deals have helped avoid direct collusion. Water rich Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan supply water from their artificial water reservoirs to Uzbekistan in exchange for natural gas and electricity.
2.1.7 Regional drug trafficking:
Regional drug trafficking has been and continues to be a significant cause of tension and violence in Tajikistan. During the Tajik civil war, the warring parties trafficked drugs to purchase weapons. According to some analysts, IMU incursions in 1999 and 2000 aimed mainly to open new drug routes. Tajikistan is one of the main transit routes for narcotics from Afghanistan – from where 80% of the EU heroin’s supply is estimated to originate. According to a UN ODCCP assessment, approximately 100 tons of heroin have been transiting from Afghanistan to Tajikistan per year.
To date the Afghan drug trade does not appear to have been affected by the war on terrorism and the US military presence in the region. Instead 2002 was a peak opium production year in Afghanistan. Since 1999, Tajikistan has recognized the importance of combating drug trafficking. That year the Tajik President officially requested UN assistance to strengthen its Drug Control Agency. The Agency has gradually improved its capacities to address trafficking with UN support. In 2001, Tajikistan seized more heroin than any of its regional neighbours: 4239kg of heroin and 3664kg of opium. According to the UN sponsored Tajik Drug Control Agency, Russian and Tajik border guards seized 4293kg of narcotics (including 2695kg of heroin) from January to September 2002. The main inflow of drugs transited via the Panj-Shurabad part of the Tajik-Afghan border, which is protected by Russian border forces. While the Drug Control Agency has caught individual traffickers, it has yet to meet the deeper challenge of prosecuting and dismantling international drug trafficking networks.
Enmeshed in international drug routes, Tajikistan is also witnessing a steady rise in addiction rates. The registered number of addicts in Tajikistan increased from 996 in 1997 to 6243 in 2001 – this figure is considered to be much lower than the actual number of addicts. 75.5% of the registered addicts use heroin. The current economic situation pushes many Tajik men and women to serve as narco-traffickers. According to the Tajikistan Interior Ministry, 257 Tajik narco-traffickers were detained in the CIS during the first nine months of 2002.
2.2 Internal security and political issues:
The peace-building process is generally recognised as having successfully resolved competition for power by the former warring parties – between the government and the UTO, and between different regional groups. However, progress towards stability has not been accompanied by greater openness or democratisation.
2.2.1 State building and centralisation of power:
Since independence Tajikistan has been engaged in a state-building project, where the central government has struggled to assert its control over the entire country. This process is gradually coming to a close. It is being accompanied by centralisation of state power in the hands of the Presidency, which other governmental structures have accepted with little or no resistance.
The Presidential office has increased its size and responsibilities, on occasion duplicating the structure of the cabinet of ministries. There is a clear vertical chain of command in Tajik government: the President appoints the heads of provincial and district governments; in turn district authorities nominate local self-government level jamoat chairpersons. The Office of State Finance Control under the President of Tajikistan, formed in January 2001 has assumed responsibility for the control of all finances, state property, and money flows (including foreign credits and humanitarian aid). With the creation of the Council of Justice in 1999, the President has the power to nominate judges and control courts. Finally, as a leader of the most powerful regional grouping of Kulabis, the President enjoys the support of its regional elite and armed forces. Officials from Kulob fill four power ministries, plus the general prosecutor’s office, the Council of Justice, the Committee on Radio and Television and the National University. The mayor of Dushanbe and chairman of Majlisi Melli, Mr. Mahmadsaid Ubaidullaev, the official number two in Tajikistan, is also from the Kulob region.
Government in Tajikistan is based on a network of patron-client relations. This contributes to the generally poor quality of public sector administration and services, and to popular dissatisfaction with government; the system similarly increases opportunities for corruption and poor governance.
2.2.2 Presidential powers
As the President continues to consolidate his powers, the biggest test of Tajikistan’s post war power sharing mechanisms and system of democratic governance is clearly the 2006 Presidential elections.
The national referendum held in June 2003 obtained popular support for a package of some 55 Constitutional amendments. Amongst these is an amendment of Article 65 of the Constitution, which previously limited the President to one seven year term in office. This has now been extended to two terms. In the wake of this referendum, President Rakhmonov could hypothetically remain in office until 2020. He would thus be following the example of other Central Asian heads of state who have succeeded in employing legal methods to extend their rule and de-facto establish autocratic systems of government.
Opposition political parties had expressed their opposition to the referendum. IRPT officially called it “untimely and undesirable,” arguing that the referendum was declared without any public discussion and without taking into account the opinion of the country’s political parties and movements.
2.2.3 Power sharing between regions:
From independence to 1998, there was some concern that Sughd might aspire to independence or secession from the rest of Tajikistan. However, these tendencies diminished after the failed challenge led by Colonel Khudoberdiev in 1998, and the disappearance of any established political leadership representing the north. The integration of the region into the country’s economic and political environment grew thereafter. In 2002, the Tajik Prime Minister, a head of the Presidential Office and five out of 21 Ministers, were from Sughd. Despite having lost its leading political position, Sughd enjoys relative economic wealth. At the time of writing, the provincial chairman, 38-year old Kasym Kasymov is successfully ruling the province and securing support from Dushanbe. Nevertheless some dissatisfaction remains in relation to the relatively un-representative political influence of the north in central government in comparison with its economic power.
Since the end of the civil war, there has been a general perception in Tajikistan that the region of Kulob from which the President heralds receives particular attention and aid. However this is not a feeling that the population of Kulob town and surrounding areas shared in 2002. Rather the expectations of the Kulob “victors” were not satisfied, for Sughd appeared to maintain a superior economic position.
In 2002, a new division also started to appear between Danghara, the hometown of President Rakhmonov, and other Kulob districts. The regional basis of President Rakhmonov in Kulob seemed less solid then it was in the mid-1990s. A virtual crystallisation of a politically influential Danghara group, distinctive from the Kulabi grouping allegedly lead by Dushanbe mayor Mr. Mahmadsaid Ubaidullaev, the official number two in the Tajik government may have occurred.
The Tajik war was a war of regional political entrepreneurs and warlords who succeeded to various degrees to secure mass support in respective areas, rather then a primordial war of regions. In some areas, such as in Khatlon, Dushanbe and Hisar, the war adopted the character of an ‘ethnically based conflict’. Five years after the end of the civil war on the surface there is little or no public expression of anger or hate amongst people of different regions. The nation-state and peace building projects appear to have overcome the desire for revenge. Divisions in Khatlon between people originating from Kulob and Gharm, and between Tajik and Uzbek nationals, remain – in some villages regional origin may dictate which mosque you attend. “Gharmi” mothers claim that they don’t allow their daughters to go to school because “Kulobis” boys may attack them. In general these divisions are muted. Conflict resolution specialists who know Tajikistan well find it difficult to agree on whether un-solved wartime grievances and revenge impulses could be easily revived to start a new war.
2.2.4 Power sharing between political parties and future elections:
As of autumn 2002, six political parties were registered in Tajikistan and it can be said to have a multi-party system. In addition to the most influential President-lead People’s Democratic Party, the IRP, Democratic Party, Communist Party, Socialist Party and recently registered Social Democratic Party operate. Tajikistan distinguishes itself from other CA countries as the right to form a party on the basis of religious ideology is enshrined in the Constitution. Generally, all parties lack institutionalised ties between voters, leaders, candidates, and activists. They are elitist in character, have no mass base, and possess an amorphous infrastructure. Both pro-governmental and opposition parties poorly articulate issue-based political programmes or platforms. Despite the relative success of the Tajik peace process, political dialogue between different parties yet has not become a regular feature of Tajikistan’s political reality.
The most active and thus far only openly oppositional political party in Tajikistan is the IRP. The IRP is committed to surviving in the modern world of participatory politics. Despite their Islamist ideals, IRP leaders and followers have been closely attached to ethnic nationalism, and to the Tajik state building project, since the first days of independence. They have allied with the official clergy, nationalist-minded secular democrats and the country’s non-Sunni (Ismaili) minority. Likewise, they could form coalitions with secular forces – some argue even with the governmental PDP – during the next Presidential elections. The firm pressure of the General Peace Accord’s international sponsors forced the Government to legalise the IRP, and accept a 30% power sharing agreement with the IRP. However, some members of the Government were still critical of the IRP’s inclusion in 2002, and state that the party’s members are closely linked to terrorists and Islamic extremists. The threat of the de-legalisation of the IRP, though limited, continues to exist. Any increase in harassment of IRP members and supporters could lead to a radicalisation, and transition back to Islamic militancy, of the most dissatisfied and frustrated fractions of the IRP.
For many Tajiks, the IRP is mainly a regional group from the Gharm area who were formerly under-represented in government and who came to power through violence and the signing of the peace agreement. They see relations between the IRP and the PDP as a power struggle between regions and individuals, rather then as a contest between different ideological and political systems. After the inclusion of the IRP leadership into legal politics, and the granting of access to power and wealth, the political or ideological differences between IRP and PDP political elites have been increasingly eroded. This may lead to a split within the IRP – between those who have benefited from the peace process, and those who today feel excluded; this split could be associated with radicalisation of a handful of leaders and of disenfranchised rural groups, dissatisfied with their “corrupt” leadership.
While the five registered political parties have generally been able to function with little harassment or control from government bodies; they are always liable to be the target of close governmental scrutiny. In early August 2002, the Prosecutor General ordered a complete analysis of the activities of all political parties to be completed by October 20, 2002. Prosecutors requested all parties to fill in questionnaires with 23 questions concerning party members’ personal details, wealth, employment, etc. Implementation of this measure was especially rigid in Khatlon. The Senior Advisor on Legal Issues of the President, was of the opinion that obliging parties to provide answers to several of these 23 questions was un-constitutional.
The Social Democratic Party, led by a Mr. Rakhmatillo Zoir was registered in December 2002. Mr. Zoir is a legal expert with excellent international contacts, who had tried for several years to register his party, at one time taking his case as far as the Tajik Supreme Court. As this party aims to have Tajik-wide support, the SDP may successfully temper some of the tensions currently pitting different Tajik regions against one another.
The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2005. In 2000 when the last parliamentary suffrage was held, the OSCE determined that they were not fully free and fair, and did not satisfy criteria established by the Copenhagen Document. Today, members of the opposition are seeking ways to improve the electoral environment, by changing the election law, amending the current law, or improving practice and implementation of existing legislation.
2.2.5 Power sharing and Islam:
Tajik legislation insists on a clear delineation between government and religion, between religion and political action. Many governmental representatives remain deeply suspicious of religious activity and the Islamic clergy. According to Muhiddin Kabiri (IRP deputy chairman) since July 2002, President Rakhmonov has been labeling political Islam as a main source of regional instability. A State Committee on Religious Affairs is responsible for overseeing the work of clergy and religious institutions. Yet there are few forums for true dialogue between the clergy and the government.
In several parts of the country, relations between governmental authorities and the clergy deteriorated in 2002. President Rakhmonov made a speech in July 2002, in Isfara (Sughd), condemning Islamic extremism and the IRP. The pro-governmental, state-controlled Council of Learned Men (Shuroi Ulamo) together with local authorities and law-protecting bodies in Sughd subsequently organised a re-attestation of imams; which led to the firing of 40 imams, the majority in Isfara. Mosques were requested to re-register and 33 out of 152 were not granted new licenses leading the way to their closure. Such steps lead to an increased dissatisfaction among believers, and criticism of the Government by some clergy, as well as regional and lower level IRP representatives.
Especially in rural areas, local mullahs and imams continued to wield significant influence over the population. The clergy is trusted to provide religious teaching to the young, and guidance to the community. Among persons who are dissatisfied with the government and the IRP, the clergy is one of the only institutions which continues to be trusted and respected.
The strongest, and until 2003 only, illegal international Islamic organization operating in Tajikistan is Hizb-ut-Tahrir al Islamii which advocates the use of non-violent means to create an Islamic Kalifate based on Sharia Law. It is operational mainly among Uzbeks in Sughd and to a lesser extent in regions around Dushanbe and South-Western Khatlon. HuT has been engaged almost exclusively in indoctrination and distributing leaflets. In summer 2002, the head of the Sugh branch of HuT and his deputy (both Tajiks) were sentenced to 12 and 10 years imprisonment. Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan consider the development of HuT as a threat to their security, and have opted for strong repression of the group and its followers. The current repression risks ultimately leading to more virulent actions by a section of HuT supporters, although our analysis suggests that repression has significantly decreased the group’s capacities to attract new members. The IRP has not joined the government opposition and called for the suppression of HuT, yet it shares the government’s view on the illegality of the party. Furthermore it is alleged that the HuT views the IRP as infidel thus potentially laying the basis for the development of strong inter-Muslim political competition.
Where some allege that there has been evidence of the presence of extremist, religiously based, military organisations in Tajikistan, this allegation is denied by others. The authors could not obtain confirmation of these allegations, nor, of course, definitive proof that such groups were wholly absent.
2.2.6 Decommissioning and the unification of law enforcement bodies:
Many of the opposition’s former field commanders have been integrated into governmental structures, especially law enforcement bodies, thus solidifying their commitment to the successful implementation of the peace process. The process has been implemented from the highest levels of government downwards. In the Karategin Valley for example in 2002 a former field commander from Gharm has become the head of the Ministry of Interior Special Rapid Reaction Force, and the Unit Against Organised Crime; a commander from Jirgital had become the head of the Jirgital-Kygyzstan border forces; and a commander from Tajikobod had become the President of a collective farm. From these positions, they could continue to exert influence on society, and increase their personal wealth; they were thus less likely to willingly squander this power by recourse arms.
As heads of local law-enforcement bodies, former field commanders may also have the ability to control the drug trade. While it is difficult to prove that this is happening, it is interesting to note that while local authorities in Jirgital district (Karategin Valley) admitted that the main drug trafficking route in 2002 Tajikistan went through the Valley, no drug traffickers were caught in Gharm or Jirgital districts that year. The Director of the UN sponsored Drug Control Agency, stated that the detection of drugs in Gharm was small, “at least because of the low level of professional skills of these former field commanders.”
President Rakhmonov has been pushing ahead efforts to consolidate his power over security forces, though the loyalty of some commanders remained suspect in 2002. Former army commander Mahmud Khudoberdyev has led three insurgencies against President Rakhmonov (January 1996, October 1997 and November 1998). According to OSCE sources, today Khudoberdyev is living in Uzbekistan. In 2002 the dismissal of two powerful wartime commanders, as well as the chairman of the State Committee for the Protection of Borders (Kamolov) – all from Kulabi clan – demonstrated the President’s confidence in his ability to exercise control, yet revealed a hidden conflict potential within the ruling elite.
While there has been progress in establishing a Tajik national army, it remains weak and unprofessional. The government was generally successful in carrying out the integration of all armed groups – government and opposition – into a national army loyal to the centralised state and its power structures. Up to seven thousand former opposition fighters were disarmed including two thousand troops who were absorbed by the national army from 1997 to 1999. Though there is compulsory military service for young men, many try to avoid army service. Among draftees and soldiers morale is generally poor, and living conditions are harsh. There are many incidents of ‘dedovshina,’ (beating and offending of junior solders by senior ones); desertion and suicide are widespread.
Militia and other law enforcement bodies lack educated and experienced staff, equipment, and resources. Corruption in militia and traffic police is widespread. Among the 91 people working in the Gharm militia, only four had higher education in law or law enforcement. A Police Academy in Dushanbe, and an Institute for Continual Learning for Militia, functioned in 2002 but these could not meet the extensive needs.
2.2.7 Population displacements:
Despite the negative effects of previous, Soviet era ‘voluntary-forced’ displacements that led to the fragmentation of communities, and gave rise to tensions and conflicts between people originating from different regions, the government initiated another intensive population movement in South-western Khatlon in 2000. Based on a November 2000 government decree, an estimated 3000 families will be displaced to the region by 2005. From May to August 2002, 171 families from Gorno-Badakhshan (including 70 families from Rosht Kala which suffered from a natural disaster), 34 families from Shurabad (Kulob zone of Khatlon), and 57 families from Kulob, were resettled on a semi voluntary basis to the Beshkent district (Khatlon). They joined dozens of families from Sughd and Kulob that had moved during the last 1-2 years to this area traditionally populated by local Uzbeks. Another group of migrants was moved to neighbouring Kabodien. The environment, housing, and infrastructure the newcomers found in Beshkent and Kabodien upon arrival was not what they expected and were promised by authorities. Arable land and clean drinking water were almost completely absent. Several of the migrants were suffering from water borne disease and appeared severely malnourished in Fall 2002.
In Beshkent international organisations were in Fall 2002 faced with a humanitarian dilemma: to aid the newly displaced and thus indirectly encourage more migrants to come, or to stay away and thus allow people to live in misery, possibly to die. By November 2002 Focus (Aga Khan Foundation), Global Partners and ACTED had implemented some emergency aid projects. The UN RRDP has decided to delay indefinitely its projects in the district.
The displacements to Beshkent may be aimed at diluting the concentration of ethnic Uzbeks in the district, which was previously almost entirely populated by Uzbeks. Several thousands are reported to have fled to Uzbekistan in 1992-1997 as a result of violence. Today they are part of the larger group of ethnic Uzbeks from Tajikistan living in Uzbekistan. The question of return of this population remains unsolved (see below). In Beshkent the houses that the displaced ethnic Uzbeks lived in are now being re-settled with Tajiks – the return of Uzbeks to this area is therefore complicated.
Forced population displacements like those that have occurred in Beshkent and Kabodien risk fueling conflict over scarce resources, and between different regional groups that were opponents during the civil war.
2.2.8 Civil society:
The non-governmental sector is new in Tajikistan. During the Soviet period in Tajikistan, the more traditional forms of community organisation such as the mahalla and jamoat, were the main forms of civil society organisation. Civil society organisations have little or no experience in monitoring state activities, lobbying and advocacy. Only during Glasnost, did new informal civic movements, defending a variety of interests, appear; however many of these disappeared during the civil war.
The most significant wartime and post-war development within civil society has been the appearance and rapid growth of the Tajik non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector. The International Centre for Not-for-profit Law (ICNL) estimated that a total of 1,241 NGOs were registered in 2002, compared with 33 groups in 1993. Since 1997, the Tajik government has promoted the formation of new local NGOs. A Law on Public Associations regulating NGO work was passed in 1998. A reduction of the NGO registration fee occurred in March 2001. In July 2002, President Rakhmonov invited NGOs from all parts of the country to attend a National Conference on “Social Partnership for Sustainable Development.” Many NGOs focus on issues relating to women/gender, or children/youth. No countrywide NGO forum or network exists, though some groups have come together in issue-specific short-term coalitions. NGO are usually service-providing rather then advocacy orientated. They are entirely dependent on international donors and funding. The main hindrance to NGO activity in 2002 was the lack of legislation regulating NGO taxation and funding – there was also no law on charity or philanthropy.
Another important phenomenon is the continual existence and influence of traditional rural forms of social organisation in Tajikistan’s civil society. These include local community based organisations bringing together rural households, farmers, women and respected “wise-men” (“rish safeds” or aksakals). Traditionally these groups helped guarantee social cohesion, and served as a forum where local values, rules of behaviour, and common needs were defined. During the war years, traditional groups such as mahallas helped people survive, by facilitating the distribution of humanitarian aid, but they were also used as a means to mobilise combatants. In the post war years, though many community based groups were weak, they became the partner of choice of international organisations engaged in rural development seeking effective ways to increase community participation in the determination of local needs, project implementation, and capacity building (see below).
In Tajikistan there are also a number of public movements – the largest of which is the Movement for National Unity and Revival of Tajikistan, which has the stated aim of promoting peace and reconciliation..
It is important to note that almost no Tajik civil society organisations openly work on conflict issues, or on preventing potential internal conflicts. In addition few historical accounts of the Tajik conflict and peace process are widely available. The topic is not part of the official curriculum in Tajik schools and universities and there are no textbooks on conflict related issues, though the publication prepared by the UK based NGO Conciliation Resources on the Tajik Accords is sometimes used in universities.
2.3 Economic issues:
More than in any other Central Asian state, in Tajikistan “extreme poverty is the central development issue. 83% of the population lives under the national poverty line; the average monthly income is less than $7, and the Gross National Income per capita is $170”. The vast majority of analysts and observers point to poverty as the main source of conflict in the country. According to the EU Strategy Paper 2002-2006, “widespread poverty aggravates the risk of ethnic and social conflict, including across borders or over issues such as water and land rights. Success in the fight against poverty is of utmost importance if ethnic and religious extremism is not to feed on social and economic inequality.”
Positively the Government has successfully decreased its budget deficit from 3.8% of the GDP to 0.1% in 2001. The government limited spending and increased revenue tax collection by local governments, in 2001 especially. However the tax base remains small.
2.3.2 Resources and production:
After years of decline – the GDP fell by 65% from 1991-1997 – Tajikistan recorded its first economic growth in 1997. In 2002 it was estimated that GDP would increase by 8-10%. However this increase must be measured against the low level of $159.6 million to which the GDP has shrunk in 2001. 70% of Tajikistan’s industrial output is based on aluminium, cotton and electricity – whose prices continue to Fall on the world market. The vast majority of the population is dependent on the food they grow for their own survival. The contribution of the service sector to the GDP doubled in 7 years, from 20% to almost 40% in 2001.
The most successful branches of industry in 2002 were: the agricultural and food processing industry (fruits, vegetables, cotton), joint venture textile enterprises (Kabool textile and Javoni jeans), Zaravshon (gold), and Obi Zulol (mineral water).
According to the ADB, “the public and publicly guaranteed external debt burden, now estimated at 87% of the GDP remains the most pressing economic problem the government will face over the next decade.” External debt had risen to 450% of the annual budget revenue in late 2001. Some 40% of the debt is owned to multi-lateral institutions, and 60% to bilateral ones. The total external debt is estimated at $970 million. The large external debt burden and debt servicing obligations leave few resources available for social services or capital expenditure.
Tajikistan is desperate for foreign investment. Though the civil war ended over five years ago, improvement of the political climate has brought few new investments into the country. The country does not have adequate insurance, banking, or legal conditions to encourage external investors. It is estimated that foreign direct investment totaled a mere $10 million in 2001.
2.3.3 Trade and infrastructure:
Tajikistan is a land locked country. Its largest trading partner is Russia. Its neighbours have competing, rather then complementing economies. 70% of GDP are made up of exports, and cotton and aluminum account for over 80% of the export earnings. Due to Tajikistan’s reliance on Soviet era transportation links, the main port it utilizes is Riga, Latvia.
In many parts of Tajikistan electricity is only available for 2-3 hours a day during the Winter. Roads and communications links are in complete disrepair. Throughout the country, communal services and infrastructure (water supply pipelines, etc.) have not been maintained, or were destroyed during the war; and much of the infrastructure is now beyond rehabilitation. The majority of irrigation, drainage, and drinking water pipes are no longer functional.
2.3.4 Privatisation and land reform:
Land reform and re-organisation of state farms is a potential source of tension in Tajikistan. The 65% of the population dependent on agriculture for its economic survival are competing for the 4% of the country’s land suitable for cultivation. Re-organisation of state farms has been ongoing in Tajikistan since 1997. As of October 2001, 15,710 private farms had been created out of former kolkhozes and sovkhozes. State run farms were reorganised into a variety of structures including: private farms, associations, stockholdings, etc. In October 2002 the President signed a decree calling for the 225 remaining sovkhoz and kolkhoz farms to be re-organised by 2005. Re-organisation was placed under the control of district government authorities and land commissions. Little or no financial resources were allocated to the task, and the issue of how state farm debt would be shouldered was left unresolved.
Re-organisation of state farms has created disparities between land owning and landless farmers, with the vast majority of former state farm workers denied land ownership rights. According to a survey of 700 households carried out by MSDSP in 2002 in the Karategin Valley, 8.57% of families are landowners, 36.71% are renting, and 98.86% have kitchen gardens. In Khatlon especially large amounts of land have been taken over by agro- entrepreneurs with power, money, and contacts. Farmers have posed little resistance for they rarely understand the re-organisation process or their rights to obtain land.
In the industrial and services sphere approximately 90% of all small business have been privatized, 50% of mid-sized business and 30-40% of big business. Privatization was advocated for by international financial institutions, and there were some disagreements with the government on how it should be carried out and how to fix values to state property. Privatization in practice has been plagued by corrupt practices. As a consequence many of the firms bought have been left idle and their resources sold off. In some cases privatization served as a means to reward war victors. For example, private companies and newly established enterprises in Sughd, were frequently handed over to persons from Khatlon. In Ura-Tubbe (Sughd Region) in 1998, mass meetings, and workers’ demonstrations, led to the expulsion of some of the Kulobis entrepreneurs.
2.3.5 Employment and labour migration:
With the stoppage of much of the region’s industrial production, and ensuing large-scale unemployment, between 500,000 and 1 million/annually men began working abroad, especially in Russia. Until 2002 the status of Tajik labour migrants in Russia was un-defined and largely un-regulated. Due to this, much of the revenue of the Tajik workers – estimated at between $200-$400 million – fell within the “grey economy” escaping taxation, fuelling corruption, and eroding the country’s financial system. The system left Tajik migrants more prone to human rights violations and abuse, such as the robbery of their gains by police/mafia rackets during their return trip.
On November 1, 2002 a new law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation came into force. According to the law, all CIS citizens have to officially register in Russia and obtain a migration card (at any Russian border). The card permits a maximum 3-month stay. After expiration of the 3-month term, persons wishing to extend their stay in Russia must make a written request. Persons whose extensions are not approved will be subject to deportation within 10 days, and be deprived for the following 5 years of the right to enter Russia. The law appeared tailored to initiate a drastic decrease in Tajik labor migration to Russia. On 14 November 2002, 70 Tajiks were deported to Dushanbe by Russian military aircraft, as were 115 on 21 November and 80-100 the following day.
Tajiks feared that this procedure would force large number of their compatriots to leave Russia. On 20 November, the Tajik government approved a three-year programme eatblishing quotas for Tajiks wishing to work abroad. A new bilateral agreement between Tajikistan and Russia on labour migration was expected to be signed in early 2003. In addition discussions began in Russia on a new labour migration law. According to media sources Russia will introduce a quota system for guest workers, of which it will accept 530,000 from the entire CIS. The likely consequence of the passage of these measures is a tight control on the number of Tajiks allowed to work in Russia. With local un-employment remaining at current levels, the most likely outcome in Tajikistan is further economic, political, and social instability.
In Tajikistan command over resources is within the hands of a restricted number of ruling elites who manage governmental institutions, legal bodies, and economic processes. In some instances these entrepreneurs misuse their influence to satisfy private economic interests. Misuse of international credit provided to governmental institutions, tax fraud, barter deals, illegal production, smuggling, and protection rackets challenge the country’s economic system. These activities, based on person-centered, clan-oriented, and sometimes violent politics, take place in a covert form, outside any legal frameworks. According to some estimates, official revenues (the average monthly salary is about $10, minimal salary $2.5) make up only 10% of Tajiks’ total monthly income. Consequently a large segment of money flows are un-taxed and outside the banking system.
Corruption extends to many spheres of public life in Tajikistan and has increased since the country’s independence. 1669 economic crimes were reported in 1998, and during the first three months of 2002, 427 were. These mainly involved the stealing of state and social property. In 1998, 40 acts of corruption were prosecuted, while 63 were in 2001. However the vast majority of corruption incidents are never reported. The ability of the state to fight illegal activities is extremely limited.
2.4 Social issues:
2.4.1. Reintegration of former combatants:
The rehabilitation of former combatants officially ended in 2000. Through a variety of programmes financed by international organizations (see below) former fighters obtained employment in the immediate post-war years. By 2002 funding for most of these programmes dried out. In many communities former combatants were fully reintegrated into civilian life, and almost 7,000 were disarmed. Yet the absence of employment posed a significant problem – and a large percentage of the former fighters went to work as labour migrants in Russia. In parts of the country such as the Karategin Valley, unemployment pushed some former fighters into illegal activities: robbery, trafficking…
2.4.1 Reintegration of former refugees and displaced persons:
The vast majority of the 500,000 people who became refugees during the civil war were repatriated by 1997-1998. The UNHCR continued a full-scale programme to support reintegration until 2000. Thereafter its assistance to returnees consisted mainly of income generation. In late 2002 the UNHCR estimated that some 50,000 Tajik refugees lived in neighbouring Central Asian countries, including 20,000-30,000 in Uzbekistan. Refugees in Uzbekistan posed the greatest political and diplomatic challenge because they were often Uzbek nationals, and neither the governments of Uzbekistan nor of Tajikistan wished to accept them on their territory. Tajiks accused the refugees in Uzbekistan of directly or in-directly supporting the rebel leader Mahmud Khoderberdiev. The Government of Tajikistan considered that the refugee repatriation process ended in 2000. UNHCR however continued to facilitate low-scale returns in 2002, especially from Kyrgyzstan. In Spring 2002 UNHCR also assisted in the repatriation of 300 Tajik students who had been studying in Pakistan medressas (out of approximately 600 who returned to Tajikistan).
UNHCR considered that while legal re-integration of refugees was successful, their material re-integration was more precarious. Based on the information available to UNHCR few or no cases of significant harassment of returnees occurred. Yet many returnees were dissatisfied with conditions in Tajikistan, and joined flows of labor migrants out of the country.
Some 3,500 Afghan nationals remained in Tajikistan in Fall 2002.
2.4.2 The position of women and youth in society:
Gender aggregated statistics have demonstrated a widening gender gap, and a worsening situation for women in economic, political and social spheres of life since the end of the civil war. In 1998 women’s salaries were calculated as representing 70% of men’s; and traditional female fields of employment, in education, culture, and health were at the bottom of the salary scale. In 1999 women represented a mere 26% of university students.
Through civil society organizations and governmental institutions women succeeded to begin raising their status in post-war society. Women NGOs were successful in the 2000 parliamentary elections campaign in increasing female participation, and since then they lobbied government to augment female representation in appointed and elected governmental positions. The government showed its commitment to gender equality by passing legislation including the National Plan of Action on Improvement of Women’s Status and Promotion of their Role (1998-2005), and the National Programme on the Main Directions of State Policy on Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women in Tajikistan (2001-2010). Yet in practice few resources were allocated to meet the lofty ambitions of these governmental plans.
Tensions are beginning to surface between men, and women defying traditional social norms and practices, which encourage females to remain under the tutelage of men within the household. Women enthusiastically embraced new economic opportunities, taking internationally funded micro-credits, trading in the bazaar, establishing small business, and participating in “shop-tours” to neighbouring countries. Yet in doing so women went against traditional norms and risked social ostracism, especially in the more conservative parts of the country such as the Gharm region/Karategin Valley. Societal changes brought polygamy to Tajikistan – it was estimated in 2002 that 60% of all marriages were not registered with state authorities. A large percentage of these were polygamous alliances concluded in religious ceremonies. Though precise figures were not available, women’s rights activists in Tajikistan also pointed to a sharp increase in female self-immolation. Women’s abilities to take full advantage of the economic opportunities available to them were constrained by their extremely limited knowledge of their rights.
In 2000 almost 27% of the population was between the age of 15 and 29. The absence of employment in rural areas caused large-scale migration of youth to cities, especially to Dushanbe. Incapable of integrating into urban life, many of these young people gradually risk becoming marginalized, engaged in anti-social behaviour and joining criminal gangs. This criminalized youth subculture is out of the control of state authorities and civil society.
In its 2000 Concluding Observations, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern about reports of ill treatment of juveniles by the militia; the number of children deprived of a family environment; incidence of ill-treatment of children in the family; the deterioration of the health of the most vulnerable; declining education standards; prostitution and trafficking of children and women.
2.4.3 Social service provision:
Decreases in state revenue, coupled with rapid population growth, have been straining state social service provision, especially in the fields of housing, health and education. Since independence virtually no new housing units, schools and medical clinics were constructed. Social service institutions and communal services were poorly maintained. In 1990 lack of housing in Dushanbe sparked riots. Today the potential for conflict to develop over the lack of public resources and services is likely to increase with the growing population. Since independence access to clean drinking water plummeted. The rate of typhoid, malaria, and other communicable disease augmented dramatically, especially in Southern Tajikistan. In many parts of Tajikistan during winter 2001-2002, electricity was provided for two hours per day. Gas was cut. In March 2002 women in Kulob reacted to this situation, demonstrating and throwing stones during the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister of Tajikistan.
According to un-official UNICEF findings, full time enrollment in primary school dropped from over 95% in 1990 to 70% in 2001. UNICEF staff estimated that up to 40% of Tajik teachers may have no more than an 11th grade education. Government expenditure on education dropped from $5.8 per capita in 1990, to $3.7 per capita in 2000. Widespread corruption, lack of resources, and skilled teachers caused a rapid decline in education levels. Many teachers left schools in search of more stable sources of income – in some instances going to work as small traders in the bazaar.
The international financial institutions have been strongly recommending tariff reform in the utilities sector, especially water and power, to insure that most or all of the costs of the services are born by users. For the time being cuts in budget spending for social services have led to the introduction of informal fees for all services hindering access for the poor. For example though formally education is free, unofficial “fees” to enter institutions, sit and pass exams, are levied on students.
The population of Tajikistan during the Soviet era took advantage of many privileges in the fields of arts, culture, information dissemination, and literature… All small towns and villages had libraries for example. Since independence the majority has not been able to obtain new books. Public access to the arts, information and sports plummeted – especially in mountainous towns and villages.
2.5 Rights related issues:
Tajikistan is a signatory to six major UN international human rights instruments, but has failed to fulfill its obligation to present periodic reports on their implementation. As a member of the OSCE, it is also bound to OSCE principles and commitments. The main governmental body responding to human rights complaints is the Department of Constitutional Guaranties of Citizens Rights, created in 1997 within the Presidential Administration.
International and domestic human rights organizations allege frequent incidents of torture, degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and denial of fair trial. The OSCE is concerned that there has been a large increase in the number of death penalties issued since 1994. Torture is prohibited by law, but reportedly widely used in practice to extort confessions. Prisons are reportedly overcrowded, disease-ridden, and violent. The government allowed several international organizations – OSCE, the Swiss Cooperation Office, Soros/OSI – to organize rights related programmes for the penitentiary system, though the ICRC was unable to gain full and unhindered access to places of detention until at least the end of 2002.
The vast majority of the population does not trust the judiciary to be an independent, un-biased, fair, conflict resolution mechanism. At present, some judges and prosecutors buy their posts, and recoup their cost by deciding cases in favour of the highest bidder. People rarely hire lawyers, for that would be an additional expense, when it is more effective to pay the judge and prosecutor directly. Tajikistan did not embark on a substantial legal and judicial reform process like some of its Central Asia neighbours did in 2001-2002. Reform of the criminal procedural code was still in its infancy in 2002. Judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers lacked information on legal reforms, decisions and texts. New legislation was voted into law and judicial and law enforcement officials did not know its contents
However the Government made outward steps in 2002 to strengthen the rule of law and improve the human rights environment in the country. Nine high-ranking law enforcement officials – including the head of the Sughd Province Department of Internal Affairs and three of his deputies – were arrested and sentenced for using torture by Tajikistan Supreme Court in July 2002. In 2002 the system of “exit visas” was abolished and the responsibility for overseeing penitentiary was transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice.
2.5.1 Freedom of the media:
Freedom of the media is severally constrained in Tajikistan though there were significant steps to improve access to independent media in 2002. In August 2002 after five years of lobbying, and the intervention of international organizations and governments, the owner of the Asia Plus news agency obtained Presidential authorization to start a radio station. Since September 2002 Radio Asia Plus successfully broadcasted news and music to a wide audience in Dushanbe. Later in the Fall, licenses were provided to two other Dushanbe based independent radio stations. However in October 2002 military forces also detained nine journalists of TV SM1 after they disseminated a programme on military conscription. After lobbying by SM1, the National Association of Independent Journalists, and other media representatives, all but three of the journalists were released – the remaining detained were threatened with military conscription.
Independence of the media is much more developed in the Sughd region than elsewhere in the country. The Vororud information agency is one of the most professional and influential media outlets in the North, with correspondents throughout Tajikistan, and a heavily subscribed electronic daily news bulletin. Unlike other media in the region Vororud excels in investigative journalism, for example identifying sources of conflict in border areas between Tajikistan-Uzbekistan.
In 2002 no news outlets in Tajikistan were able to survive without international support, and in many parts of the country there was no independent media, and access to any sources of information was severely constrained. No daily newspapers were printed in Tajikistan, and besides the Iranian bookstore in Dushanbe there were no bookstores in the country. The situation was particularly dire in Khatlon and the Karategin Valley where there were no local radio and TV stations, music or news sources. Internet was only available in Dushanbe and Khojand. In 2002 the Russian media remained a significant source of information and shaper of opinion in Tajikistan.
3 TRIGGERS OF CONFLICT AND TENSION:
While there are many potential sources of conflict in Tajikistan, there are no strong indications that these tensions are likely to erupt into violent conflict or a resumption of war. This is largely due to the existence of a power-sharing consensus among elite groups and political entrepreneurs – notably between the secular post-Communist elite and the Islamic opposition – who have effectively shared power and control of resources in the post-war period. The leadership of the PDP and the IRP agree on the need to avoid violent conflict, and to protect the national state-building project. These elite groups see that they will gain little or no political or economic benefit from instability and violence. Together, they are leading Tajikistan towards the establishment of a relatively stable oligarchy dominated by two cliques, which may over the long-term merge into one.
A significant conflict trigger would be the breakdown of this consensus. The IRP currently competes with the ruling elite, but not as an ideologically Islamic party or political movement. In most cases marginalized from decision-making at the state level, it enjoys access to state resources in pursuit of persona or vested interests. Vis-à-vis the government, it arguably still holds a powerful tool – a social mobilization mechanism capable of harnessing the support of dissatisfied rural youth. The government on the other hand controls the levers of state-controlled violence and repression. Should one or both sides decide to employ these mechanisms, violent conflict would be inevitable.
In addition the Tajik state and society lacks capacity to manage or contain conflict, and wealth and resources are distributed un-equally causing the formation of an ever larger class of dissatisfied and disenfranchised. The state is increasing prone to adopting a “strong-man” approach, as made evident by governmental offensives against the IRP in 2002 and early 2003. Its willingness to compromise or enter a dialogue with disaffected groups may be diminishing. There are few Tajik institutions that can play a mediating role – opposition political parties, independent media, an effective judiciary, an active civil society – and those that exist lack capacity. Should social dissatisfaction rise due to stalled economic development and social reform, the government has few effective security forces to rely on, and may turn to external parties (especially Russia) for assistance.
At the regional level effective mediating mechanisms are also lacking. This absence of mediating mechanisms, to help ensure that low level conflicts are addressed effectively and kept from spiraling into violence, significantly increases the potential for future conflict.
3.1 Triggers linked to external developments:
Tajikistan’s heavy dependence on its neighbours, and the lack of effective mechanisms to resolve regional disputes, signifies that the country is highly vulnerable to external change.
Tajikistan is highly dependent on Russia due to the estimated 500,000 – 1 million Tajik labor migrants working there, and a significant trigger of conflict would be a change in the relationship between the two countries. In November 2002 a new law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation was passed and the deportation of illegal Tajik migrants began. A hostage taking incident in Moscow increased anti-Muslim sentiments in Russia, and stimulated an exodus of Tajiks and other non-Russian populations. Tajik have regularly been the victims of viscous hate crimes in Russia – more than 40 Tajiks were reportedly killed by Russian skinheads in 2002. Yet Tajikistan is heavily dependent on the remittances of its migrants, and already has a high number of unemployed within its borders. Dissatisfied unemployed youth risk turning to criminality, political extremism, drug use and trafficking, among other anti-social behavior. While Tajiks have to-date largely avoided openly criticizing Russian or US policies in Afghanistan, Chechnya, or other Muslim dominated states, there is a potential for a shift and the rise of anti-Russian or anti-US sentiments.
So far, there are no irredentist sentiments and trans-border nationalism linking Tajikistan and the Tajiks of Afghanistan. As indicated above Tajikistan, has greatly benefited from the current stabilisation of Afghanistan caused by international intervention in the country. However many of Afghanistan’s problems have not yet been resolved; a change in Afghanistan is likely to negatively impact regional stability and Tajikistan in particular. The internationally supported Karzai government is far from exerting control on the entire Afghan territory. A resumption of an armed competition for power in Afghanistan is likely to be a significant trigger of tensions with Tajikistan. Should a modification in the power balance in Kabul occur, disenfranchising the Tajik led Northern Alliance, and causing a split within the Karzai led government, Northern Alliance leaders could again look for support from Tajikistan as they did during the Taliban regime. Tajikistan is interested in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, and puts this interest before national or irredentists claims. Yet a change in leadership and policy on either side of the Panj could inflame relations between the two countries.
Tensions between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have been localized in nature – and largely non-violent – but they may increase substantially should the existing conflict between North and South Kyrgyzstan, or within ethnic groups living in southern Kyrgyzstan, develop further. The situation in early 2003 in southern Kyrgyzstan was tense and could push Central Asia into a spiral of conflict involving Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Some analysts argued that while the Kyrgyz central government has worked to quell political dissidents in the South, it has done little to tone down growing inter-ethnic tensions. The main inter-ethnic tensions are between Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals living in Osh – yet it is highly unclear in what direction an outbreak of violence between these groups would go. It is unlikely that such a conflict would leave Tajikistan unaffected.
Within Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, there are no signs of irredentist movements. The exchange of water, electricity, and gas is vital to the two countries. Thus it is likely that this barter system will continue without creating wider conflict. Should one side however suspend the provision of resources this would cause tensions. Tajikistan is attempting to reduce its transportation dependency on Uzbekistan: opening bridges to Afghanistan and access to China. Uzbekistan, which has its own allies in Afghanistan, may consider a rapprochement between Tajikistan and Tajik forces in Afghanistan unfavorably
3.2 Triggers linked to internal developments:
3.2.1 Conflicts between the government and political Islam:
The Tajik government is hardening its position vis-à-vis Islamists and seeking to strengthen its control over the clergy. It began to apply the rhetoric of the “war on terrorism” to justify its repression of IRP members and religious leaders. Yet a further de-legitimization of the IRP and political Islam is a trigger which could fuel tensions, as President Rakhmonov’s July 2002 speech condemning Islamic extremism in Isfara did. In reaction to governmental moves against so called terrorist organizations, youth in particular risks hardening its position, and turning to more fundamental forms of Islam. This is particularly a possibility among youth returning from Russia where they may have been victims of anti-Muslim racism.
3.2.2. Conflicts between regional leaders:
Potentially conflict could develop out of rivalries among Kuliab political entrepreneurs. The population of Kuliab is extremely dissatisfied and frustrated, and in a few cases has already taken to the street. No clear political leader or force attempted to mobilize people further. Yet in Dushanbe and in Kulob itself there are political authorities who accept the status quo but may rapidly switch should they feel that their interests are further compromised. This is much less the case in Sughd or in other regions of Tajikistan. Nevertheless should Rakhmonov change his current approach to regional power sharing, which seeks to widen his support base and secure the support of political entrepreneurs around the country, this could led to exacerbation of conflict between the regions. This would occur if for example, the President fired the current Prime Minister who is from Sughd and replaced him with a Kulobi.
3.2.3 Possible positive conflict: electoral politics.
After the 1997 peace agreement, the political leadership and population chose a security and stability first approach – seeking to avoid any form of open conflict at all cost. While this strategy was essential during the peace consolidation phase – it is clear that a functioning democracy and liberal economy cannot function without the existence of conflict and competition. By 2003 the government and former opposition had come to a political compromise – which protected the interests of both groups’ leadership – and left the IRP with little incentive to criticize the ruling party and the status quo. Political parties, the media and civil society groups were not keen to address any of the underlying sources of conflict: relations between the government and political Islam, corruption, regionalism, competition over resources, etc. The rejection of conflict, competition, and criticism of the country’s leadership and its policies, in the long term, risks however to have its own detrimental impact on internal stability.
The 2005 and 2006 elections provide an opportunity for “positive conflict” to emerge between political rivals. However to insure that disputes within and between political parties are resolved adequately will require improvement of democratic procedures, political party structures, electoral mechanisms and legislation. With 10 years in office already behind him, the 2003 referendum will authorize President Rakhmonov to seek another mandate. The run-up to the elections may be accompanied by increased nervousness and by efforts by the President and his supporters to suppress opposition within his party, and outside it. It seems unlikely that political competition during the election period will replicate past political and regional conflicts, but it may cause tensions between a host of political actors.
3.2.4 Conflict over economic resources.
Deepening poverty, and the increase of inequalities in Tajikistan, is likely to cause resentment among segments of the population, especially youth, which may lead to the further development of security threats such as violent crime and drug trafficking, and of fundamentalist forms of Islam. Inadequate service provision, and access to basic infrastructure such as electricity, gas and water, may cause some segments of the population, especially women, to take to the streets. Demonstrations already occurred in 2002 – especially in Kulob. They are likely to remain largely peaceful unless the government and law enforcement bodies begin to repress them harshly – as has been the case in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Intensive repression of popular demonstrations may trigger wider dissatisfaction and conflict, and the emergence of a new class of political opponents, which could unite today’s disenfranchised. Further population displacements – undertaken as those to southern Khatlon were – are likely to cause tensions over resources, which may be disguised as inter-ethnic conflicts.
4 INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES:
4.1 International actors:
Since independence, Tajikistan remained largely out of the international development limelight, and the few international agencies that worked in the country – such as UNMOT and the UNHCR – had to struggle intensively to gather support from donor countries. Tucked away in a hard to reach isolated part of Central Asia, few Western countries could define any concrete interests to defend in Tajikistan, which was generally accepted as belonging to Russia’s sphere of influence. This changed after September 11th, 2001, when the US, with the EU’s support, targeted Afghanistan in its war against terrorism. Thereafter all of and Central Asia became a focus area. In 2002, Western states considered that their main aims in Tajikistan were to support regional stability and the peace process; combat illegal activities by transnational networks especially drugs and small arms smuggling; facilitate poverty reduction; encourage privatization and economic growth; and promote the respect for international human rights and the rule of law.
Since Fall 2001, Tajikistan’s bilateral links have grown significantly. In 2002 the UK, France, and Japan opened embassies in Dushanbe; Tajikistan established permanent representations in Brussels and Berlin, and plans to do the same in Washington, DC in 2003. Several high-level governmental visits to Tajikistan occurred in 2002, including that of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. President Rakhmonov was for the first time officially invited to a European capital in December 2002 when he traveled to France; he also visited the US in late 2002.
Tajikistan has recognized that it is dependent on regional integration to insure future economic and political growth. Since its independence it has cooperated closely with the UN and the OSCE. Tajikistan participates in a number of regional and supra-regional organizations, with different, though often overlapping goals and memberships. Tajikistan is a member of the Central Asia Cooperation Organization (CACO), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the CIS Security Pact, the Eurasia Economic Community and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFES) has been based in Dushanbe since 2002.
4.2 Development actors:
The World Bank, ADB, EBRD, the OSCE and UN agencies are the main multilateral providers of grants, loans, material and technical assistance to Tajikistan. The largest bilateral donors are the US, Switzerland, Germany and Japan. The UK, France, the Netherlands, Canada, and Turkey are now in the process of expanding their support to the country. Thirteen UN agencies are based full time in Tajikistan. The UN 2002 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal sought a total of $76 million in the sectors of food security, health and nutrition, water and environmental sanitation, education, reintegration, coordination and security. Several large international non-governmental agencies are operational in the country including the Aga Khan Foundation, Care International, Mercy Corps International, ACTEED, Medecins sans Frontieres, Oxfam, Novib, German Agro Action, etc….
In 2002 Tajikistan completed the Poverty Reduction Strategy Process (PRSP), which establishes an official framework for coordinating donor assistance and delimitating priorities. It also set up an Aid Coordination Unit within the President’s administration, financed by ADB.
4.3 International agencies working in and on conflict:
Since 1997 development actors in Tajikistan have been implementing programmes that aim to make the transition from aid to development. In doing so they have shifted from projects that seek to work directly “in conflict” to those that work on or around conflict. Though some donors continued to be interested in funding peace-building projects in 2002, the vast majority of international agencies operating on the ground considered that the peace building phase has come to an end.
In 2002 international policy makers and donors were no longer faced with the challenge of designing programmes to address the consequences of the 1992-1997 war, but were seeking mechanisms to prevent the development of new conflicts. Many donors and implementing agencies were forced to undertake a difficult analysis of conflict potentials, to think “outside the boundaries of the box” which since 1997 were defined by the causes and consequences of the civil war.
By the end of 2002 there had been very little coordination and information exchange between agencies engaged in policy research and conflict assessment in Central Asia. A host of analyses of conflict were carried out in Tajikistan in 2002, by various agencies including GTZ, Canadian CIDA, Swedish SIDA, and the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. Yet there was little “learning from each other.” The consultative meeting of donors operating in Central Asia on human rights, democratization and governance issues held in Vienna on 14 November 2002 was a rare example of effective information exchange between the major Western donors – which should be extended to include conflict prevention.
The lead organization responsible for supporting the implementation of the Tajik peace agreement – the UN Tajikistan Office for Peacebuilding (UNTOP), formerly the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) – has at the time of the writing of this report received a new mandate for 2003. In 2002 it redefined its efforts to include wider conflict prevention and stability promotion. It began implementing a human rights education programme, opened a human rights information center, and was staffed with an international civilian police officer (Civpol). The agency also continued facilitating political dialogue between the government, the former opposition, and other political actors. Since 2000 it has carried out political discussion clubs on a monthly basis throughout the country amongst local government officials, political party representatives, media, and civil society groups. In Summer 2002, UNTOP initiated debates between opposing political representatives on peace building which it planned to broadcast through the media in 2003. In 2003 it began a series of discussions with local authorities in the regions on the role of political parties, parliament and elections.
UNMOT and UNTOP are considered to be highly successful UN peace building missions. According to its mandate, UNTOP’s activities focus on the consolidation of peace; political support to mobilize international assistance for national recovery and reconstruction; promotion of the rule of law and the strengthening of democratic institutions; support for local human rights initiatives; and promotion of the UN’s coordinated effort in matters related to peace-building. Throughout the peace process, UNTOP was the main facilitator of peace talks and after 1997 guided the work of the Commission for National Reconciliation (until 2000).
The UNDP, which has been present in Tajikistan since 1994, also shifted its focus from post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation to development by 2002. Since 1997 UNDP’s programmes sought to facilitate social and economic recovery, community-level confidence building, and the stabilisation of the overall post-conflict environment. In 2002 UNDP Tajikistan’s main activities included: support to poverty reduction, gender and rural women credit schemes, vocational training to support demobilization, good governance, the establishment of a legal education center and a computer center in the Technological University. The main project, working directly on conflict at the end of 2002, was a vocational training center that provided 200 former combatants with vocational training and employment. In 2003 the UNDP hoped to find donor funds to expand the scheme to the regions, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Labor.
In 2002, Phase II of the UNDP Tajikistan Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, and Development Programme (RRDP) started with a stronger emphasis on alleviating poverty through rural livelihood promotion, and on supporting local governance and transparent decision-making with the creation of Jamoat Development Committees (JDC). It had sub offices in 5 cities. The RRDP approach to development and conflict mitigation begins at the community level, and is based on the premise that community cohesion and responsibility can best be built to avoid future conflicts through small-scale infrastructure rehabilitation. At the end of 2002 RRDP was seeking ways to strengthen its community development strategy – to create linkages between JDCs and village organizations. Since 1996 UNDP RRDP implemented some 1,000 projects with a budget of $27 million focusing on: re-integration of former combatants, restoration of basic conditions for economic growth, and the promotion of stability. In 1999 and 2000 a host of small infrastructure development projects were implemented in the Karategin Valley, and provided jobs to former fighters.
UNDP/RRDP was an implementing partner for conflict prevention activities along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border within the framework of the Swiss-funded Peace Promotion Programme for northern Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan. The programme employs an innovative approach. While UNDP/RRDP provides technical skills, Tajik and Kyrgyz NGOs (Ittfok and Foundation for Tolerance International) are responsible for working directly with local communities, helping them build their mobilizing capacities, identify local problems, and enter a dialogue with their cross-border neighbours. By end 2002 22 projects had been implemented on both sides of the border. They mainly restored or re-organised drinking water and irrigation/drainage systems.
Amongst all international organizations, OSCE has also been the most engaged in advocating for the improvement of human rights protection, freedom of the media, free and fair elections, increased women participation, etc. OSCE has been operating in Tajikistan since 1994 and was an active part of the peace process and the work of the Commission for National Reconciliation. The OSCE Mission to Tajikistan was renamed the OSCE Center in Dushanbe in late 2002 and is the largest OSCE presence in Central Asia. It operates in the fields of security, conflict mitigation, rule of law and human rights promotion, support to the media, gender, environmental and economic affairs, carrying out a variety of training and skills’ development efforts. One of the OSCE’s main assets is its four field offices. In 2003 a fifth office was opened in Kuliab. Field officers engage in monitoring, reporting and third party mediation.
The EU completed the definition of a new Strategy Paper 2002-2006 and Indicative Programmeme for Central Asia 2002-2004 in Fall 2002. Since independence Tajikistan has been a beneficiary of four EU assistance instruments: ECHO humanitarian aid, TACIS technical assistance, the Food Security Programme (FSP) and Macro-financial support. However after the 1997 killing of the TACIS country representative, TACIS and FSP were suspended. Only in Summer 2002 did they resume, and did the TACIS Tajikistan office re-open. In 2002-2003, Tajikistan is benefiting from 10 million EUR from ECHO, 6 million EUR from the FSP, and 35 million EUR for balance of payment macro-financial support. ECHO is planning to phase out in the next few years. Tajikistan has signed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU, which it is in the process of transforming into a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).
At the end of 2002 TACIS was determining how it would allocate the approximate 12 million EUR/year it planed to provide to Tajikistan (over the next three years). Its main objectives are, to promote security and conflict prevention; eliminate the sources of political and social tensions; and improve the climate for trade, investment and energy supplies. TACIS will provide technical assistance to implement TCA obligations, reform education systems and improve institutional capacity and effectiveness in economic and legal policy development. Poverty reduction, through the promotion of community-based partnerships, human resources development, access to credit and agriculture inputs, are likely to be a TACIS focus in Tajikistan. In addition TACIS planned to implement a large scale Regional Cooperation Programme, with activities to be undertaken at the multi-country level in the fields of transportation, communication, energy and water management, drug control, environmental protection, and border surveillance, to enhance overall stability and security in Central Asia.
Since 1998 the ICRC implemented a humanitarian law dissemination programme. Approximately 500 instructors were trained in the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, amongst border troops… The ICRC also supported access to humanitarian law education in schools, producing a book for 8th grade students. In 2003 ICRC planned to train students of the Pedagogical University. Within the Military Academy, it established a Center on International Humanitarian Law
4.4 International financial Institutions:
Tajikistan became a member of the World Bank in June 1993, and the WB opened an office in 1996, which was upgraded to a Country Office in 1998. Since 1996 it has approved seventeen projects, and three supplemental credits for a total $302.1 million (approximately $200 million has been disbursed). About one third of the Bank’s credit have been used for 2 major structural adjustment programmes, focusing on privatization, banking sector reform, and protecting the social safety net. In the past six years $1.367 million in grants were also provided. During the period covering 1999-2001 the country assistance strategy (CAS) focused on poverty reduction, post-conflict rehabilitation, economic reform and institution building. Three projects addressing conflict were funded: the post-conflict rehabilitation credit ($10 million), the post-conflict emergency reconstruction project credit ($10 million), and the institutional development find grant ($165,000). A new strategy was being devised in Fall 2002 for 2003-2005 based on recommendations in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).
The WB exited the post-conflict phase, and is focusing on development challenges, including human development, institution building, and economic growth. Tajikistan benefits from concessional credit from the WB with a 40-year repayment period, 10-year grace period, and 0.75% service fee (no interest). Since 1994 the WB also supported a few regional projects, such as the Aral Sea Basin Programme which helped set up the International Fund for the Aral Sea (now based in Dushanbe).
Tajikistan has been a member of the Asia Development Bank since 1998, when the ADB’s programmes cautiously started in the country. During 1998-2001 Tajikistan obtained 6 loans for $102.6 million, since then another 6 credits for 2002-2003 have been prepared. In 1998-99 a Post-conflict rehabilitation credit of $20 million was disbursed. The other ADB focuses have been on infrastructure, energy, emergency response (to natural disasters) and micro-credit assistance. After 11 September 2001, ADB put on hold two of its loans planned for 2001, and postponed projects originally planned for 2002-2004 to 2005.
Beginning in 2003 ADB expected to start several non-lending regional projects including: to facilitate regional trade and customs cooperation, to study Amu Darya Basin Development, and to facilitate participatory water management in Central Asia. Most ADB concessional loans are disbursed for a 28-32 year repayment period, with a six-eight year grace period, and 1% service charge. Tajikistan is fast approaching 2004-2006 when it will have to begin repayment of its first ADB credits.
4.5 Bilateral agencies:
A few bilateral donors have been active in Tajikistan since the end of the civil war. The main governments which have provided grants to the country are the US, Japan, and Switzerland, and to a lesser extent Germany and the UK.
In Fall 2002 the US Embassy, which had been operating since March 1992 in Dushanbe, but with strictly reduced staff in the mid-1990s, was rapidly increasing its full time presence in Tajikistan. Its programmes include US Information Service (USIS) three-four yearly sponsored study trips to the US with different target groups (Parliamentarians, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, cultural representatives). Since March 2002, with the Marshall Center, the US government has organised some 10-12 training programmes for Tajik law enforcement officials in Germany and the US for: military, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Emergency Situations, border forces…It has also provided non-lethal military and police equipment. Tajikistan joined the Partnership for Peace in 2002.
Operational in Tajikistan since 1993, USAID’s support to the country exponentially increased since the US became militarily involved in the region in 2002. While the total 2001-2002 budget for Tajikistan was $15 million, funds allocated for the 2002-2003 fiscal year totalled $40 million. USAID is primarily working in the fields of enterprise and trade development, democratic culture and institution building, primary health care, education and youth, energy and water management, humanitarian assistance and conflict mitigation. In June 2002 USAID obligated $4 million to the regional conflict mitigation initiative, Community Action Investment Programme (CAIP) of which 2 million were awarded to the AKF, 1 million to Mercy Corps International, and 1 million to UNDP.
The main goal of US conflict prevention programmes was to provide livelihoods and infrastructure to help guarantee normalisation and reduce the attractiveness of participation in illicit activities such as trafficking, drug smuggling, terrorism and armed opposition. US conflict mitigation programmes targetted the Karategin and Ferghana Valleys. USAID considers its programme to have been a success to date due to the calming of tensions in the two valleys, and the inability of the IMU to recruit larger numbers of followers.
In addition to the programmes mentioned above, USAID is financing the $2.1 million Peaceful Communities Initiative in the Ferghana Valley. This cross border regional programme includes Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. It employs the model developed by SDC in the region since 1999. It successfully included Uzbekistan – which no other internationally support conflict reduction project has been able to do before 2002.
The Swiss government has distinguished itself as the main donor agency specialising in implementing and funding conflict resolution and prevention programmes in Tajikistan and the Ferghana Valley for the past several years. The Swiss funded Regional Dialogue and Development Programme seeks to apply a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention by working across borders, with local communities, local NGOs and technical partners such as UNDP and ACTED. It succeeded to diminish low level conflicts between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan over border issues and the sharing of resources – by facilitating dialogue, and financing small infrastructure development carried out by UNDP/RRDP through the Peace Promotion Programme. The Swiss Government also supported an Ambassador of Goodwill Network in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to intervene with local authorities and local communities when cross-border conflicts between communities’ arose. In Tajikistan, the Swiss Government planned to finance a local NGO the Public Committee for Democratic Processes and the OSCE to facilitate “dialogues” between the government, political parties and the clergy on issues pertaining to political Islam, to develop trust, and open a debate on the role of political Islam. It will also support the development and implementation of a conflict resolution course in seven Tajik universities.
4.6 International NGOs:
Few international NGOs are focussed on the implementation of conflict prevention or peace building projects in Tajikistan. Many of the international NGOs which are working on conflict are not based in the country but operate from outside. These include the Kettering Foundation – Inter Tajik Dialogue Process (US), Conciliation Resources (UK), FEWER (UK), the Swiss Peace Foundation and CIMERA (Switzerland).
The Inter-Tajik Dialogue, together with the Tajik NGO Public Committee for Democratic Processes established an extensive conflict mitigation programme in Tajikistan since 1993. It focuses on second track diplomacy through the initiation of “dialogues” between opposing political, religious, and community representatives. Fourteen moderators were trained on conflict mediation and moderation; they carry out “dialogues” in seven Tajik regions. In 2002 the programme started facilitating the development of four economic development committees which would obtain small grants to carry out community projects to alleviate potentials for conflict. It was also working on the development of a university-level conflict resolution textbook, and teaching models to be financed by the Swiss Government. In 2003-2004 the programme hoped to establish peace studies libraries in seven Tajik universities.
A host of development orientated international NGOs operate in Tajikistan. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) implements the most extensive programme. AKDN began by supporting reconstruction and reconciliation processes, and providing legal advice to the National Commission on National Reconciliation. AKDN is made up of a host of sub-programmes including: the Agricultural Reform Programme under the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), the Aga Khan Education Fund, the Aga Khan Foundation Tajikistan, and FOCUS, the Aga Khan humanitarian aid programme. At the Central Asia regional level, the Aga Khan’s Humanities project, is improving university students’ access to humanities related subjects, including human rights and conflict resolution. New textbooks provide teachings from Islamic and Western traditions – inherently advocating for tolerance between religions, philosophies, ideologies and national groups. The project supports six institutions of higher learning (in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan). Over the next decade the aim is the foundation of a Central Asia University in Khorog.
The AKF/MSDSP developed an innovative approach to rural livelihood development by focusing on the establishment of village organizations to ensure capacity-building at the local level to identify needs, establish priorities, insure maintenance, and encourage community participation and social cohesion. AKF/MSDSP’s overall strategy is to promote economic growth in rural areas, through the provision of agricultural inputs, small credits, and the rehabilitation of small-scale economic and social infrastructure. From 1998-2002 MSDSP became engaged in 400 villages in Gorno-Badakshan and 72 in the Karategin Valley.
5. DEVELOPMENT INTERVENTIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON THE DYNAMICS OF CONFLICT AND PEACE:
Overall international support to the peace-building process has helped secure peace and stability in Tajikistan. International programmes have virtually completed the transition from relief and rehabilitation to development. However due to tensions that exist in Tajikistan and the broader region, development interventions must continue to consider their impact on conflict. Below is an analysis of some of the dilemmas, which aid programmes and policies currently encounter in Tajikistan:
5.1 Targeting potential spoilers: projects for former field combatants:
As of 2002 international organizations, government officials, and former combatants had generally recognized that the time for rehabilitation projects for former fighters had passed. From 1999 to 2002 a host of programmes targeting former combatants were implemented in the Karategin Valley and GBAO. These programmes provided jobs and helped guarantee former fighters’ re-integration into civilian life. In the Karategin Valley local authorities were particularly appreciative of the UNDP/RRDP job creation/local infrastructure development schemes of 1999 and 2000. Five years after the end of the war former combatants should be considered on an equal basis with other community members. Specific programmes should not be designed for them – at the risk of increasing rather then diminishing conflict. One of the few projects targeting men of combat age that may still be beneficial is vocational training, coupled with job creation. However all un-employed young adults can benefit from skills development.
The GCPP funded the AKF in GBAO to carry out former combatants re-integration projects in 2001 and 2002. Approximately $1 million were disbursed to AKF. These projects were initially considered to be successful but by 2002, AKF felt that they were increasing conflict between combatants and the rest of society. Projects that focus on former combatants have also had the negative effect of fuelling tensions between former fighters, who are competing to become beneficiaries. To avoid conflict causing distributional effects, AKF requested that remaining funds be re-targeted and used for community projects that could benefit combatants and the broader community.
5.2 Conflict resolution and mediation at the local level vs. political intervention with the state.
The few international aid programmes that have had a specific conflict resolution and prevention focus have worked at the local level, with community groups and local NGOs. SDC pioneered the approach in Northern Tajikistan and Southern Kyrgyzstan. It was subsequently re-applied by USAID and Mercy Corps International. The strategy involved working closely with local communities, mediating discussions between border groups, and helping them identify sources of tensions and ways to resolve them. The problems that have been identified on the Tajik side are generally related to high population density, land scarcity and high water levels. On the Kyrgyz side the critical problems are linked to lack of irrigation water, access to markets and alternative sources of livelihoods. These inter-linking challenges have been addressed by small infrastructure development projects, often carried out by UNDP/RRDP. They have led to the diminishing of tensions between cross-border communities.
While the community level conflict prevention programmes implemented in the Ferghana Valley have born some fruit, they have not been made sufficiently robust and sustainable through complementary political and policy level interventions with the concerned states. While many of products of the regional problems identified in the strategic assessment – concerning sharing of resources, border delimitation, freedom of movement, increased militarisation – can be addressed at the community level, their causes cannot. A glaring weakness of the approach adopted so far is that it does not address tensions between Tajikistan (or Kyrgyzstan) and Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has refused to take part in such cross border programmes because it considers that they put into question its supremacy in the Ferghana Valley.
The special “conflict prone” status that Northern Tajikistan has been labelled with during the past several years, has enabled the region to benefit from extra funding which may now be causing local authorities to over-emphasis local tensions for additional financial gain. This was particularly evident in discussions with authorities in Isfara. They immediately stated that their region “had a high conflict potential,” while the villagers of the area spoke of a wide range of local problems – lack of jobs, bad harvests, insufficient land – but never mentioned conflict. As several large-scale international programmes are now operational in the region, there is growing agreement among donors that additional projects are not a priority.
5.3 Stable development vs. fair development: land privation and land rights issues:
As the Tajik economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, and agriculture inputs are sorely lacking, a host of international donor agencies have focused on supporting rural livelihoods through the provision of seeds, fertilizer and small credits. German Agro-Action, AKF/MSDSP, UNDP/RRDP, are the main organizations engaged in this effort. Initially they sought to encourage land reform and privatization by stating that they would work only or mainly with private farmers. However it soon became apparent that it was only the richest farmers who had private lands. Private farms are also generally larger than others. Due to the outcome of the privatization process, aid agencies faced a dilemma: what is most appropriate, to assist richer and more productive private farmers or the most needy and impoverished renting and small holding farmers?
Ongoing land privatisation risks exacerbating conflict between private farmers, those who lease land and landless persons. Presently few Tajik farmers fully understand land reform procedures and policies. Their ability to resist or complain about how privatization is being carried out is meager. However a few internationally supported projects are considering improving farmers’ knowledge of land rights issues, UNIFEM plans to start an extensive country-wide training and support programme for women in 2003, and Act Central Asia hopes to facilitate the development of a land-rights coalition among Tajik NGOs and civil society groups. This rights based approach may however in the short term increase tensions in rural areas.
5.4 The risks of credit programmes and their long term effect on conflict:
Large-scale international credit schemes in the current Tajik context create opportunities for “greed” and may ultimately fuel popular “grievance.” Tajik external debt rapidly grew in the last ten years. In 2003 it is close to $1 billion. The cost of servicing debt threatens fiscal stability, and inhibits the government from investing in improved social service provision. International financial institutions’ policies are contributing to Tajikistan’s accumulation of debt burden – 40% of the debt was owed to multi-lateral agencies in 2002.
While funds were being disbursed to officials within government there was little knowledge or understanding among the broader population of the significance of credit re-payment. Under these conditions the possibility that members of the political elite were finding ways though the credit programmes to satisfy their short-term interests existed. The director of the Aid Coordination Unit under the President’s office suggested to us that Tajikistan’s debt to bilateral agencies be restructured to release funds to re-focus on poverty reduction. A widespread feeling among governmental officials that they can benefit from the funds that come in now, and leave the responsibility of repayment to others later, seemed to permeate governmental spheres. With little transparency and accountability, the lack of “watchdog” media or civil society institutions, officials at various levels of government had ample room to misuse IFI credit.
Under these conditions, programmes that encourage Tajikistan to take on more debt should be strongly discouraged. Poverty reduction programmes should shift their emphasis from economic liberalization and privatisation to the promotion of good governance, to help insure that in the longer run effective state mechanisms are in place to limit corruption and mismanagement of credits.
Part two: Peace Building Framework: Strengthening Tajikistan’s conflict mediation mechanisms
Based on the strategic conflict assessment it is possible to argue that a host of potential conflict sources exist in and around Tajikistan. Internal weaknesses, and the lack of effective regional conflict mediation mechanisms, make Tajikistan especially vulnerable to external threats. Tajikistan has not focused on developing military approaches to protect its security – as Uzbekistan has. Instead it has positively cooperated with international agencies – such as the UN Office for Drug and Crime Control and the OSCE – and tried to maintain a dialogue with its neighbours to address external threats such as drug trafficking, and resolve tensions over borders and the sharing of resources. Due to this Tajikistan is a good base from which to launch regional programmes and initiatives.
Within Tajikistan the state and society demonstrate a surprisingly low structural vulnerability to a resumption of war. Political entrepreneurs, elites, former opposition, and society in general, consider stability to be the main prerequisite to effective state building and economic development.
Nevertheless the Tajik state and society lack sufficient capacity to manage or contain conflict; and there are few Tajik institutions that can play a mediating role should even low-level conflict arise. The judiciary is not trusted, political parties have weak ties with the masses, independent media is struggling to operate, and few civil society organizations are active in advocacy, lobbying or conflict related issues. The Tajik government considers that its main internal security threats come from actors that may have contacts with international terrorists or organised crime. The government is therefore considering employing a crackdown on potential Islamists extremists as its main conflict prevention, and stability building, tool. It has been slower in seeking ways to reduce other internal conflict generating pressures linked to the upcoming elections, poverty, land privatization, widespread corruption, labor migration, etc… For this reason conflict prevention projects and policies in Tajikistan should aim firstly to strengthen a range of indigenous conflict mediation mechanisms.
The Tajikistan peace-building framework calls for a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and mediation to be applied on three levels, and within five fields of action.
1. PEACE BUILDING GEOGRAPHIC LEVELS OF INTERVENTION:
1.1 At the regional level:
To more effectively diminish the potential for conflict in Tajikistan, a clearer regional focus must be adopted when the GCPP determines its political and programmeming fields of action. Tajikistan should not be seen in isolation. Due to the conflict potential existing between Tajikistan and its neighbours, and the opening that exists to improve regional stability, opportunities to strengthen cooperation between Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and even China should be actively sought after in the definition of GCPP programmes or policies. Several major international organizations (EU Tacis, UNDP, USAID, ADB) have already begun the process of strengthening their regional approaches.
Working in close cooperation with other governments, and inter-governmental institutions, the UK may assist in generating political will for regional cooperation; in facilitating dialogue between Central Asia states; and in promoting co-operative security arrangements. Current geopolitical considerations provide the international community with a rare chance to more forcefully advocate for regional cooperation – especially between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Uzbekistan in particular is today more receptive and open to responding to Western concerns, and this chance should be used to press Uzbekistan’s President Karimov to accept to play a more active role in supporting regional cooperation, especially with Tajikistan.
The GCPP should consider ways to support existing regional projects – such as those of the UN ODCCP and the OSCE – and to facilitate new forms of regional cooperation. The OSCE in particular is at a difficult cross roads, as it attempts to define a clear and effective regional approach to security and stability in Central Asia. The GCPP may consider ways to encourage this process by offering increased institutional support. Working in tandem with the OSCE or other regional bodies, the UK is also in a good position to provide technical assistance to assist in border demarcation, training of border guards and custom officials, and in fighting organised crime and drug trafficking. On the political level the UK should encourage Tajikistan and its neighbours to reduce border tensions, by opening consulates or representative offices – as Osh and Batken Provinces have done in Khojand – in border cities.
International actors must proceed with a large-scale shift in attitudes and practices for regional cooperation to be successful. For the time being weak contacts exist between governmental agencies and international organizations operating in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and ultimately China. Coordination between donor agencies working on conflict prevention and mediation in Central Asia also needs to be significantly strengthened.
1.2 Between Tajikistan and its neighbours:
In addition to defining a regional approach, the GCPP should actively seek out projects that have a cross-border component. GCPP’s funding of the construction of a bridge between Tajikistan (GBAO) and Afghanistan in 2002 was an exemplary cross-border initiative.
With Embassies in Dushanbe and Tashkent, the UK is in a good position to support cross border programmes between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – either in/around the Ferghana Valley or in Southern regions, along the border separating Khatlon (Tajikistan) and Surandarya (Uzbekistan). For the time being much international support has targeted the Ferghana Valley, and programmes are being implemented between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Yet much less cross-border activity has been carried out in the west and south – between Penjikent (Tajikistan) and Samarkand (Uzbekistan), and Beshkent/Shartuz (Tajikistan) and Termez (Uzbekistan).
1.3 At the Tajikistan level:
In the past some international donors and organizations have focused their assistance on particular regions of Tajikistan. This has also been the GCPP’s experience: its support until 2002 was mainly provided to AKF/MSDP projects in GBAO. Due to delicate relations between Tajik regions, and the potential distributional impacts of development interventions, such targeting should be avoided in the future.
Until at least the end of 2002, the UK also refrained from engaging in the Karategin Valley due to security concerns. Five years after the end of the war, the time to lift this restriction was long passed. Other Western governments – especially the US – started investing extensively in the region after the peace agreement, and reaped the benefits including, increased stability, re-integration of former combatants in civilian life, decreased Tajik cooperation with the IMU… The US Ambassador’s visit to the Karategin Valley and Gharm in late 2002 sent a powerful message to the population of the Valley. He clearly made the population understand that even though the region was historically more conservative and Islamic leaning than other parts of the country, the West is open to providing support and expanding cooperation.
Programmes and policies’ foremost aim should be to strengthen cooperation and communication between Tajik regions due to the existence of inter-group inequalities and tensions between some regional elites. People living in one region of Tajikistan have little or no opportunity to meet and cooperate with people from other parts of the country. Programmes that can provide a forum for working together should be prioritized. When programmes are designed it is necessary to proceed carefully in the selection of participants for example – persons from Dushanbe and Khojand should not be given priority over others. All activities should not take place in the capital. Programmes that specifically aim to build links between regions should be given preference in funding decisions.
2. PEACE BUILDING FIELDS OF ACTION:
In 2003 the general level of openness in Tajikistan and the country’s willingness to satisfy international demands created a unique opportunity for international donors to help facilitate the development of these missing conflict mediation mechanisms. Therefore the peace building framework’s main aim should be to strengthen Tajikistan’s conflict mediation mechanisms by improving people’s opportunities to:
2 Non-violently express their dissatisfaction with government and ruling elite policies and programmes through the democratic process.
3 Obtain and exchange independent and complete information on incidents and decisions occurring in the country through the strengthening of independent media and the higher education system.
4 Participate in local decision making and policy formulation through reform of local self-governance bodies and the development of more effective community development institutions.
5 Monitor how ruling elites make decisions concerning international funds and their use through media and civil society.
6 Protect their interests through independent and neutral judicial bodies and traditional conflict resolution mechanisms.
Projects to be supported in the context of the Tajikistan peace building framework should fit in one of the five above-mentioned pillars.
2.1 Supporting the democratic process:
The international community – in particular the UN and the OSCE – have played a key role in supporting the development of democratic processes in Tajikistan. This support, and occasional slight pressure, has obliged the Government to implement its peace agreement obligations, and most importantly maintain a dialogue with the former Islamic opposition. Both at a political and programmeming level the UK’s conflict prevention strategy should be centered on the support of ongoing democratic processes in Tajikistan. More specifically the GCPP should consider that:
§ Opposition political parties continue to require political support to insure that they are adequately included in political processes. Attempts by the Government to limit the sphere of action of the IRP, or to de-register it, must be forcefully condemned.
§ The creation of open spaces for dialogue and exchange between governmental and opposition forces such as those facilitated by UNTOP, OSCE and the Inter-Tajik Dialogue Process, are still needed. Particularly in the run-up to the elections public debates, discussions and roundtables between political opponents would provide an opportunity for political party representatives to sharpen their political message and for the wider population to increase their understanding of party politics.
§ A democratic multi-party system is based on the existence of strong political parties with clear political platforms, a popular base, and solid organizational infrastructure. None of the six functioning parties in 2002 in Tajikistan could be considered as having these attributes. There is ample room to assist political parties strengthen their capacities though multi-party training sessions and study visits such as those organised by EU and US based political party foundations.
§ Tajikistan is committed to holding free and fair elections that meet the OSCE Copenhagen criteria. Parliamentary elections are planned for 2005 and Presidential for 2006. During the last round of elections, Tajikistan fell far short of Copenhagen criteria but the international community generally turned a blind eye to the shortcomings of the electoral process because it represented an important benchmark for peace building. In 2005-2006, the Government must be made to understand that falsification of elections results, and irregular de-registration of political candidates, will lead to suspension of aid, and political sanctions. If no conditions for free and fair elections are present during the campaigning period, the OSCE should be encouraged to refrain from sending a full election observation team. If OSCE does monitor it should do so with a robust observation team.
§ Tajikistan requires technical assistance and training to improve election procedures. So far elections committees have been entirely dependent and allied with the government. Reforms to improve the neutrality and skills of elections committees at all level are needed. Institutionalisation of monitoring and reporting by neutral observers and NGO representatives is required. In addition the population at large would benefit from voter and civic education programmes that target women, young adults and rural populations especially.
To support democratic processes more effectively the GCPP should consider supporting the efforts of the OSCE Mission to Tajikistan and UNTOP.
2.2 Improving access to information and education:
Access to independent information sources has been limited in Tajikistan since the start of the civil war. The Government of Tajikistan should be further encouraged to continue allowing new TV and radio sources to register, and provide un-censored information.
Tajikistan journalists are in need of technical and skills development to insure that they become professional providers of information. A Tajik School for Independent Journalists functions in Dushanbe and would benefit from technical assistance. The London based Institute for War and Peace Reporting cooperates with Tajik journalists, publishing their articles on their website and through their email list server, and organising training. Though BBC correspondents occasionally report from Tajikistan, few or no Tajik journalists have been able to take advantage of the BBC’s world-renowned journalist training programmes. Local media sources do not have adequate funds to purchase the necessary equipment to set up radio or TV studios without international assistance.
Supporting institutions of higher education, and the formation of a professional civil servants institute, is essential to conflict prevention. The rapidly plummeting levels of education will soon deplete Tajikistan of one of its remaining key resources: a literate and skilled population. The fall of education standards, and widespread corruption, suggests that in less then 10 years it will be difficult to find enough educated professionals to carry out all governmental functions. Lack of professionalism is likely to lead to increased tensions and conflicts within government and between government and opposition.
Many of Tajikistan’s successful young intellectuals and professionals have benefited from Chevening/Soros Foundation scholarships. The scheme should be continued and expanded. More cooperation between UK based universities and Tajik institutions should be facilitated. As the University of Westminster has opened a filial in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Tajik students should also be provided with the opportunity to study there, or a similar initiative should be developed in Tajikistan. The Aga Khan Foundation Humanities Project is in the process of constructing a Central Asia University to be based in Khorog – which will increase educational opportunities and regional cooperation. Effective support for the University may include the provision of books, equipment and most importantly foreign teaching staff.
2.3 Facilitation wider community participation in decision-making:
Working through community based organizations – village organizations, mahallas, users’ committees, etc – has largely been recognized in Tajikistan as the most effective way to insure improvements in rural livelihoods, poverty alleviation, and popular participation in decision-making. AKF/MSDSP and UN/RRDP have employed this approach for the past several years to implement development programmes that reach remote rural areas, and regions that experienced instability and violence during the war. They have encouraged rural communities to identify their local problems, prioritize their needs, mobilize community resources, and maintain completed projects. AKF/MSDSP and UN/RRDP also promoted local democracy and community participation through the organization of elections for the appointment of village heads, and regular community meetings to insure a dialogue between community leadership and villagers. In 2002 AKF/MSDSP had begun to tackle social exclusion and some of the underlying sources of economic inequality through community based development schemes.
While community participation is increasing at the grass roots level, the general population continues to be excluded from decision-making at higher levels of government from the jamoat and district up. Tajikistan would benefit from technical assistance to support the development of democratic and representative institutions of local government. The country has begun a reform of institutions of local governance, and is in the process of preparing legislation to more effectively regulate the work of mahallas, jamoats, and district bodies. In 2002 this reform process, and international organizations’ projects facilitating the development of community level regulating bodies and committees, were occurring in parallel. There was little discussion and experience sharing ongoing between legislators, governmental bodies, and international organizations, though there was a unique opportunity for the creation of synergies to deepen local government’s downwards accountability.
To guarantee community participation in decision-making, and support the development of democratic forms of government, it is important to encourage the Tajik government to open local government to democratic processes – establish elections for regional and district government presidents for example. The GCPP should consider engaging in local government reform projects but working in close cooperation with international agencies such as AKF/MSDSP or UN/RRDP, or local NGOs, which have extensive experience in community development in Tajikistan.
2.4 Strengthening non-governmental monitoring and lobbying capacities:
Non-governmental monitoring and lobbying capacities in Tajikistan are extremely weak. Until recently, when there was virtually no independent media in the country, no effective watchdogs existed. Dushanbe based NGOs are generally closely associated with the government and are hesitant to monitor and lobby. In other parts of the country, non-governmental bodies continue to fear the reaction of local government or of former field commanders should they attempt to observe their activities and speak critically of them. Few links exist between local NGOs located in the government and community based NGOs, and community based groups have little or no access to governmental bodies operating above the jamoat.
Besides the OSCE, Counterpart Consortium and the Soros Foundation, few international NGOs have provided training to local NGOs on lobbying and provided them with the necessary political support to advocate for change. OSCE/ODIHR training on monitoring, reporting, and lobbying in the fields of human rights and conflict prevention should be supported to strengthen local groups capacities. International organizations’ political support should be offered to independent organizations making valuable critical analyses of government or political entrepreneurs.
The GCPP may consider setting up small independent human rights, conflict prevention, research units and libraries together with a local NGO working on the issue – such as the Public Committee for Democratic Processes. Currently there is a dearth of knowledge among Tajik academics, policy makers and NGO activists on conflict related and human rights issues. Virtually no publications have been drafted on the causes or consequences of the Tajik civil war. Tajiks lack early warning monitoring skills, and experience carrying out conflict assessments. They have no outlets through which they could disseminate their findings, or lobby for changes in governmental policy.
No international human rights organizations operate full time in Tajikistan. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International come on occasional visits, but the HRW office was forced to close due to lack of funding. Conflict prevention organizations such as FEWER, International ALERT and the International Crisis Group carry out some monitoring in Tajikistan, but their engagement deserves to be expanded.
2.5 Improving access to conflict resolution mechanisms.
A strengthening of official and non-official conflict resolution mechanisms is essential to insure that low level conflicts are mitigated, and that people have a fair and effective means to resolve their complaints. Presently in Tajikistan the judiciary is weak, under-resourced, and corrupt; few people trust it as an adequate conflict resolution tool. In the past year the UN, OSCE, and several international organizations have embarked on a coordinated effort to strengthen the judiciary through the creation of a Legal Education Training Center which aims to improve the skills and qualifications of lawyers and judges. The technical assistance and financial resources needed for the successful completion of this project and the further strengthening of the judiciary are large-scale. Especially in the regions, little is being done to insure that judges and lawyers have access to new legislation and adequate working conditions – including safe and sanitary buildings, regular salaries, and the support and cooperation of law enforcement bodies and government officials. Free legal aid, especially for poor rural women populations, is not available.
Ample opportunities to support and assist the Ministry of Justice reform its structures exist. Within the Presidential Office, a Department for the Guarantee of the Constitutional Rights of Citizens, which fulfils many of the functions of an Ombudsman’s Office started to receive and process citizens’ complaints in 2002. It requires technical and financial assistance to expand its activities outside Dushanbe to the regions. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Swiss Cooperation Office, have demonstrated an interest in supporting the Department but additional funding and technical guidance would be beneficial.
The weakness and un-professionalism of Tajik security forces – the army, border forces, militia, etc. – is another source of tension which should be addressed though technical and financial assistance. UNTOP and the OSCE both plan to have CivPol officers by 2003. The GCPP may choose to support the programmes that they devise, or to provide its own technical operatives to carry out training and experience sharing with Tajik forces.
Popular lack of knowledge of basic economic, social and political rights hampers people’s abilities to protect their rights, and increases their vulnerability to political entrepreneurs’ misuse of their grievances. Human rights and civic education programmes implemented through schools, local NGOs, and community groups can assist people define the sources of their grievances, and identify non-violent ways to address them through the courts or other complaint mechanisms. Such educational programmes are particularly needed in rural areas. One possible strategy would be to work with an international NGO, which already has a strong community development programme, such as AKF/MSDSP, and offer technical assistance and funding to enable it to include a human rights/civic education dimension to their programme. Another possibility would be to cooperate with Tajik based NGOs such as Maniza, Open Asia, Traditions and Modernity, ASTI, Ghamkhori, which already have experience carrying out training and rights based education programmes in rural areas but require additional funding to continue and expand their activities.
It is necessary to commission an in-dept study of traditional conflict mediation mechanisms. Among Tajik urban-based intellectuals and decision-makers, and international experts, there is scant understanding of the functioning of traditional Tajik conflict resolution mechanisms. Yet institutions such as mahallas, jamoats, the mosque, aksakal committees (committees of elders) have for centuries helped resolve community problems and strengthen social cohesion. Local NGOs such as Ghamkhori, ASTI, Ittifok and the Public Committee for Democratic Processes are attempting to understand these institutions better and strengthen their conflict resolution capacities. Under the guidance of the DFID officer in the UK Embassy, with the support of international community development and conflict resolution experts, these NGOs could start an analysis and strategy development effort to more clearly determine how traditional conflict mediation mechanisms can be strengthened.
In addition – and in conclusion – strengthening the UK’s engagement in Tajikistan is likely to have a positive impact on conflict mediation and prevention. The opening of the UK Embassy in 2002 in Dushanbe is a first highly appreciated step. The Embassy’s hiring of a DFID Programme Officer is another positive move. Establishing consular services at the UK Embassy and in the longer term, a British Council office, will go a long way to break the sense of isolation that Tajikistan still faces.
Asia Development Bank. Country Strategy and Programme Update (2003-2005): Tajikistan. August 2002.
Asia Development Bank. Economic Assessment Tajikistan. September 2002
Department for International Development (UK), Conducting Conflict Assessments: Guidance Notes. London, 2002.
European Center for Conflict Prevention. Conflict Prevention in Central Asia: the Role of the OSCE. A report on a conference organized by the European Center for Conflict Prevention and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, March 2002.
European Union. Strategy Paper 2002-2006 & Indicative Programmeme for Central Asia 2002-2004. 18 September, 2002
Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Draft version, Dushanbe, April 2002.
International Crisis Group. Central Asia: Border Disputes and Conflict Potential. ICG Asia Report no33, Osh/Brussels, 4 April 2002.
International Crisis Group. The OSCE in Central Asia: A New Strategy. ICG Asia Report no38, Osh/Brussels, 11 September 2002.
United Nations, Tajikistan Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal 2002.
United Nations. International Support to Post-Conflict Peace-Building in Tajikistan. March 2001.
United Nations Development Programme, Tajikistan Human Development Report 2000. Dushanbe, 18 December 2000.
Women in Development Bureau (WID), National Status Report on Gender in Tajikistan 1999. Dushanbe, 2000.
World Bank Dushanbe Country Office. Fighting Poverty in Tajikistan. The World Bank Group Activities 1994-2002. Dushanbe. July 2002.
Asia Plus, Eurasianet and IWPR (International War and Peace Reporting) news articles.
 DFID, Conducting Conflict Assessments: Guidance Notes, London: January, 2002.
 EU Strategy Paper 2002-2006 and Indicative Programmeme for Central Asia 2002-2004, p. 10.
 In July 2002 Kyrgyz defense minister Esen Topoev, told a press conference in Bishkek that he had evidence that over 350 members of al-Quaeda and the IMU were massing on the Tajik-Afghan frontier. The statement launched an open diplomatic debate between the Tajik government, Kyrgyz authorities, and Russia border forces stationed on the Tajik-Afghan border, concerning the possible movements of the IMU. While there were reported sightings of “Uzbeks” in Tajikistan – alleged to be members of the IMU – none of the sources that we spoke with in the Karategin Valley or Dushanbe could confirm the presence of foreign armed militias in Tajikistan in 2002.
 Here we are applying a maximalist definition of security which defines security both in the personal sense of securing a meaningful identity and in the collective sense of maintaining territorial integrity, political stability and economic well being. (James Rosenau, “New Dimensions of Security: the Interaction of Globalization and Localizing Forces,” Security Dialogue, no25 (3): 255-81, 1994.)
 Tajikistan Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal 2002, p.4
 DFID, Conducting Conflict Assessments: Guidance Notes, London, 2002.
 Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, draft, Dushanbe, April 2002, p. 4
 Representatives of Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the OSCE and the OIC served as observers in the Inter-Tajik negotiations.
 However Tajikistan’s openness to Afghan refugees has significantly decreased since 2000. In March 2001 when some 1,200 Afghans reached a group of islands on the Panj River, Tajik authorities refused to let them enter, claiming that they had no resources to assist them and that the group contained armed fighters.
 Intensive exchange of fire and killings on the Tajik-Afghan border are often linked to the drug trade. In June in Vanj (GBAO) five persons alleged to be drug carriers were killed by border forces. The same month, two border forces soldiers were murdered in Darvaz (GBAO).
 According to Asia Plus media sources, more than 100 Tajiks are in captivity in Afghanistan. While some have been taken by force to re-pay money owed to the drug lords, others choose to be imprisoned as “security” for heroin supplied from Afghanistan. In 2001, 23 hostages were released through negotiations.
 For a full report on border disputes in Central Asia see the International Crisis Group, Central Asia: Border Disputes and Conflict Potential, ICG Asia Report no33, 4 April 2002.
 On 3 January 2003 more violent clashes occurred between Tajiks and Kyrgyz along the border.
 According to the chairman of the city of Isfara Mirzosharish Isomiddinov: “ This war of blockposts could lead to not only local, but big regional conflict…. There are several problems which need to be solved at the highest level: land, water, demarcation and delimitation of borders.” In an article by Bahrom Faizullaev, Varodud, #21, 11 Sep., 2002
 For example residents and governmental authorities in the Tajik enclave of Vorukh complained of the presence of some 3,000 Kyrgyz troops deployed in the Leilak district of Batken Province in 2001 – figures of Kyrgyz troops from Central Asia: Border Disputes and Conflict Potential, ICG Asia Report no33, 4 April 2002. p.18
 Interview with Roberto Arbitrio, Programme Coordinator, UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention and interviews with local authorities in the Karategin Valley.
 EU Strategy Paper 2002-2006 and Indicative Programmeme for Central Asia 2002-2004, p. 10.
 This represents the entire yearly heroin consumption of Europe and the US.
 Respectively in 2001, Iran seized 3319kg of heroin and 6128kg of opium (during 9 months), Russia 1000kg and 1700kg, Uzbekistan 446kg and 241kg, Kyrgyzstan 170kg and 469kg, Kazakhstan 80kg and 36kg, Turkmenistan 70kg and 150 kg (during 9 months). Figures provided by the UN Drug Control Agency, November, 2002.
 Rahmonov accused the IRP of indoctrinating people in the spirit of extremism, hinted that the party was engaged in activities similar to those of extremists such as the IMU, and said that three suspected terrorists held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay naval base hailed from Isfara.
 In July 2002 Kyrgyz defense minister Esen Topoev, told a press conference in Bishkek that he had evidence that over 350 members of al-Qaeda and the IMU were massing on the Tajik-Afghan frontier. The statement launched an open diplomatic debate between the Tajik government, Kyrgyz authorities, and Russia border forces stationed on the Tajik-Afghan border, concerning the possible movements of the IMU. While there were reported sightings of “Uzbeks” in Tajikistan – alleged to be members of the IMU – none of the sources that we spoke with in the Karategin Valley or Dushanbe could confirm the presence of foreign armed militias in Tajikistan in 2002.
 ICNL Press Release, Reduction of Registration Fees Leads to Dramatic Increase in the Number of Registered NGOs in Tajikistan, March 2002.
 Tajikistan Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal 2002, p.4
 Economic Assessment Tajikistan, Asian Development Bank, September, 2002, p.5
 Economic Assessment Tajikistan, Asian Development Bank, September, 2002, p.2
 Economic Assessment Tajikistan, Asian Development Bank, September, 2002, p.3
 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, Government of the Republic of Tajikistan draft, Dushanbe, April 2000, p4
 Economic Assessment Tajikistan, Asian Development Bank, September, 2002, p.8
 Land Reform and Land Tenure in the Rasht region, MSDPS internal document.
 According to Uzbek government figures there are approximately 6000 Tajik citizens still in Uzbekistan.
 Gender Statistics in the Republic of Tajikistan. Dushanbe, 1999, p.146
 National Status Report on Gender in Tajikistan 1999. Dushanbe, WID Bureau, 2000, p. 68
 The limited resources available push most women towards small time trade. In 2001 only 4-7% of the country’s heads of firms were women. Gender measurement of land legislation, politics and taxation in Tajikistan: analysis. problems decisions. recommendations Dushanbe, 2002, p.70
 Marguarita Khegai, Research on the Phenomena of Polygamy in Tajikistan. Dushanbe, 2002
 Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Tajikistan 23/10/2000.
 Interview between UNICEF staff and a UN OHCHR assessment mission, March, 2002 in Dushanbe.
 Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, draft, Dushanbe, April 2000, p.19
 Interview between the OSCE HOM and a UN OHCHR assessment mission, March, 2002 in Dushanbe.
 For example the entire UN’s Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Tajikistan 2000 amounted to a mere $34.8 million, “United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Tajikistan 2001, 2 November, 2000. http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf, retrieved 04.2001
 Since March 2003 when the world’s attention diverted to Irak, Tajikistan risked losing much of this newfound position as a recipient of foreign aid.
 As of 25 October 2001, the international community had contributed some $35 million or 46% of the total requirements, or which $33.95 million were for food aid through WFP. Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Tajkistan.
 Letter from the Secretary General to the President of the Security Council, 2 May, 2001, S/2001/445.
 In Tajikistan the Khatlon and Sughd regions, and the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan, are considered to be priority target areas for the TACIS poverty reduction scheme.
 Since Spring 2002 Mercy Corps has tentatively succeeded in including Uzbekistan in its programme.
 ACT Central Aid represents Christian Aid, UK based NGO with a Partnership Programme Agreement with DFID.
 Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, draft, Dushanbe, April 2002, p10
 See Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Conflict Prevention in Central Asia: the Role of the OSCE. Conference report, the Hague, March 2002. International Crisis Group, The OSCE in Central Asia: A New Strategy, ICG Asia Report no38, 11 September 2002.
 In early 2003 Tajiks had to travel to Uzbekistan to obtain a UK visa. Thus they needed first to obtain an Uzbek visa and travel to Uzbekistan and pay the UK visa service fee. The approximate cost of the operation was $300.