NEWS // 
The first substantial outcome of the project implemented with the support of the European Commission and in consortium with the British Council and Migration Agency of Armenia was the creation of the Migrants Support Unit in mid-April. It will assist Armenian migrants world-wide, providing relevant information on migration issues in general and the reintegration process in particular. The Unit staff comprises five experts. Among other activities, they will also coordinate all the necessary activities to facilitate effective functioning of a hot-line and internet portal to be created for ensuring wider and easier access to the relevant information. Both these tools will provide updated information migrants may need for smooth reintegration.

On April 23rd the project partners held the first working meeting with the unit staff in the premises of the newly created unit. There were two major issues on the agenda: discussion of several bills on migration policy and introduction of the first draft of the portal, called Tundarts (Returning Home). Project experts argued for the necessity of ratifying three bills, namely a law on regulation of oversees labor, law on entry and departure of RA Citizens and a new law on refugees. It was decided to enlarge the discussion of the mentioned bills, involving a larger audience of stakeholders and finalize recommendations regarding Tundarts website.
Journalists usually either report on or try to provide unbiased analysis on the issue of Nagorny Karabakh. Rarely if ever do they come to share their personal perspectives. The Town Hall Meeting which ICHD organized on April 7, 2007 brought together about 40 representatives of Armenian media who shared their attitudes, opinions and challenges regarding the possible resolution of the conflict. The exchange of opinions was marked with high level of awareness of both local and global contexts of the conflict.

The THM provided an open platform for the journalists to discuss five possible scenarios of resolution. The scenarios were developed based on information so far reflected in Armenian and Azerbaijani media. More information on scenarios is available here.

The outcomes of the Town Hall Meeting will be discussed further with various groups of policy makers, political scientists and other relevant experts.
The ICHD, together with the Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) of the Netherlands and with support from the OSCE Office in Yerevan, organized a training course on Democratic Governance in the Security Sector. The training was organized within the framework of Starlink program. Under the Starlink Program (Security, Transparency, Accountability and Reform: Linking the Security Sectors of Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia to the European Mainstream) several intensive courses on democratic oversight have been held in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Following a presentation of its program in Yerevan in 2006, the current training was the first of a series and covered democratic oversight of the defense sector. Later in the year trainings on democratic governance of the intelligence sector and the law enforcement sector will follow.

The training was held from March 30 to April 1, 2007 in Tsagkhadzor, Armenia. The three-day training course was planned for 20 participants who represented the Ministry of Defense, National Assembly, media and NGOs which deal with security issues.
To ensure effective implementation of the “Support to Migration Policy Development and Relevant Capacity Building in Armenia” project, a Steering Committee has been formed. It comprises representatives of state agencies and local and international NGOs dealing with migration issues. The Committee will make sure that adequate and effective impact, effective monitoring throughout implementation and direct feedback is provided.

The first meeting of the Committee was held on March 21, 2007. Twenty-one participants were invited to attend the working meeting. The main objectives were to introduce the project, clarify the further steps of state policy on migration and identify the activities the Committee would need to carry out throughout the project. Participants were invited to exchange opinions and make recommendations regarding the further activities of the Committee.

The Committee will get together at least once in a quarter and will present the activities carried out by partner organizations in the preceding period, find ways to address the challenges identified and suggest ways to ensure maximum impact.
ICHD started shooting a new film series - Returning Home - as part of the project “Support to Migration Policy Development and Relevant Capacity Building in Armenia”. These are documentaries which will depict the destinies of concrete people who have chosen to return to Armenia or are still hesitant to do so and live in foreign countries. The films will depict their daily challenges, routines and emotions and feelings. Five films will be shot in Armenia and another five abroad. The series will touch on the issues associated with the process of return. For more information, please, see the project link.
ICHD, the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia (UMBA) and the Global Compact Armenia office organized the first round table to initiate a policy dialog regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a concept introduced in Armenia by the UN Global Compact. The event was supported by UNDP. This is the first event in the series which will address the adequate policies and practices of CSR in Armenia.

There were about 40 participants attending the round table, among whom high rank state officials, in particular the Deputies Ministers of Trade and Economic Development Artsvi Minasyan and Tigran DAvtyan, and UN officers: Kori Udovicki, the Director of UNDP RBEC, and Consuelo Vidal, the UN Regional Representative. The majority of the participants were the members of the Global Compact Armenia, such as HSBC Armenia Bank, Coca-Cola, Tufenkian Hospitality, Ashtarak Kat, etc. They discussed several questions, namely:

  1. What is Corporate Social Responsibility and where Armenia stands?
  2. Is CSR the only way to involve private sector in development issues?
  3. What is the government’s perspective on CSR?
  4. Is there a need to create a formal framework for government-business cooperation for advancing the CSR in Armenia?
  5. How can the public sector contribute/participate in CSR activities?

The results of the discussions were summarized in the subsequent policy brief, which can be founds here.
To encourage more open, complex and effective discussions on current policies in and around Armenia, ICHD has created an external blog at ICHD is an avid advocate of participatory democracy. Therefore, all those interested in contributing to policy discussions are welcome to join the blog. To make the communication rules and norms clear, please, review the ICHD Blogging Policy.
On February 23-24 two ICHD trainers, Dr. Ashot Khurshudyan and Dr. Suren Poghosyan, who are also OSI Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative (LGI) fellows, conducted a training course for 15 Armenian and Georgian participants in Yerevan. The two-day workshop, which was organized by CRRC-Armenia and OSI Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative (LGI), aimed at providing appropriate skills for writing effective policy papers to influence decision making. The working language of the workshop was English.

More information is available at the CCRC-Armenia website.
ICHD hosted the first meeting of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) National Expert Council. This is a new initiative launched within the framework of “Civil Society Participation in the European Neighborhood Policy – A Regional Approach to Conflict resolution”. The project which is being implemented by Crisis Management Initiative, aims at creating a regional partnership network of leading NGOs, think tanks from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. National Expert Councils will work with their governments on issues regarding the ENP and peacebuilding approaches.

In Armenia the project is coordinated by ICHD and is supported by GMF and DFID. The Council members are representatives of active NGOs and the Head of the EU Department of the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs Varduhi Khechoyan.

The first meeting was attended by two CMI representatives, Anji Herrberg, the CMI Rapid Response Director, and Alina Doroftei, Black Sea Project Manager. The participants focused on two major issues: conflict resolution and cross border cooperation within ENP framework. Ms Herrberg and Ms Doroftei presented the objectives of the initiative and the activities undertaken within the project in other countries, and the participants exchanged opinions regarding priorities on which the Council should focus. The Council will hold quarterly offline meetings, in and between continuing the communication and discussion online.
On January 31, 2007 ICHD Executive Director Tevan Poghosyan participated in a round table discussion on promoting dialogue and cooperation between Armenia and Turkey, organized by Eurasia Foundation in Ararat. The event provided a forum for the NGO representatives and local administration officials in Ararat region to discuss the Turkish-Armenian initiatives that had been launched before, as well as the present challenges and potential of opening the border between the two countries.

Mr. Poghosyan presented one of the latest publications of the Center - Armenian-Turkish Track 2 Diplomacy Projects: Assessment of the Best Practices - which nicely tuned with the theme of the round table and promoted a thought-provoking exchange of opinions. The participants noted that activities such as the above-mentioned project would definitely enhance the effectiveness of future initiatives.
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