Title

Accion Contra el Hambre and conflict transformation : a case study in the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict

Publication Date

1-1-2000

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Paula Green

Abstract

A wide look at the history of humanitarian activities reveals many cases in which aid has had a negative collateral impact on the communities assisted. Other times humanitarian programs or the attitudes of humanitarian workers are simply not helping the processes of conflict transformation. This is also happening in Abkhazia and all the HOs should pay attention to those negative aspects of aid to ensure that humanitarian and development assistance contribute to peace rather than to conflict. There are three causes of the humanitarian crisis suffered by this country which was once considered the brightest jewel among the former Soviet Socialist Republics: 1) the collapse of the Soviet Union, 2) the consequences of the war against Georgian central government in 1992-93 and, 3) the economic blockade imposed by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Humanitarian organizations (HOs) working in the area, such Acción Contra el Hambre (ACH), are contributing to the maintenance of the status quo. Certainly such organizations have done, and still do, a very good job in saving people from starvation, in providing shelter, and even in encouraging the starting up of some economic activity. But are they really contributing to enhance the peace process? This is the reflection that has encouraged me to write this paper. The research's main objective was to explore the ways in which ACH can benefit from its privileged situation-excellent knowledge of the local situation, flexibility to operate across lines, political independence and credibility with all parties-to play a more committed role in the process of conflict prevention and resolution. Data was collected between June 1998 and June 1999 through documentation review, participant observation and informal interviews among the different actors: local population, collectives of internally displaced persons (IDPs), authorities of both sides and international agencies. The outcome of my research allows me to suggest some recommendations for HOs in terms of their potential to enhance local capacities for peace towards the goal of helping people disengage from conflict. Also, I will explore the potential of HOs as policy advocates in the defense of human rights and international law. Finally, the issue of the political manipulation of the IDP community by both parties involve in the conflict will be analyzed and some suggestions given as to how HOs may address this problem.

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