Strengthening Capacities for Public Participation in South Caucasus


Democratic decision making in the South Caucasus is still in the stage of development. The practices and knowledge in the societies in transition are not adequate to the emerging challenges in fast changing environments. The societies and governments need more effective new instruments, different skills and knowledge to handle transitional challenges and enter a phase of functional democracy. One of the instruments making participatory democracy to work, the Town Hall Meeting (THM) mechanism has been developed and introduced in Armenia by the ICHD since 2005. After being effectively used at local and national levels in Armenia, the ICHD has considered to extend its capacity throughout the entire region in South Caucasus.

Supported by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and in partnership with our partners in Georgia and Azerbaijan, Liberty Institute (LI) in Tbilisi and Youth for Development (YfD) in Baku, ICHD has launched an initiative to transfer skills and share its experience through a three-partied regional project.

In the early stage of the project, the partners have developed a roadmap for the skill transfer and capacity building for the Georgian and Azerbaijani institutions. Following this roadmap, ICHD have trained a dozen members of the LI and YfD on implementing the THM mechanism, scenario writing, communication, facilitation and note-taking skills. The partners got an opportunity to test and practice their knowledge and skills under overall ICHD guidance while implementing a pilot THM discussion on school violence in Tbilisi. In the wrap-up stage, the partners have outlined opportunities for practicing and implementing the newly acquired skills, as well as opportunities for regional cooperation and joint projects promoting participatory democracy through the South Caucasus.

The ICHD and its partners should not have been waiting for the success of this imitative. In late 2008, ICHD with its Azerbaijani partner launched an initiative to make people’s voices on the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict heard by the leaderships in both societies. The THM mechanism has been selected as the key methodology for implementing this initiative. The skills transferred to a partner in Azerbaijan became critical for the very idea of this initiative. Since 2008, ICHD and its partners are working to develop several initiatives promoting public participation in the societies in South Caucasus region using the THM mechanism as the methodological backbone of the joint endeavors.

Since 2009, ICHD has developed and introduced a genuine analytical instrument for processing the outcomes of the THM discussions. This instrument has been successfully used in several projects through 2009. ICHD considers transferring the analytical skills to its partners in 2010-2011.



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