Accepted Paper:

Organized Hypocrisy Comes to Osh: Explaining OSCE (In)action During the June 2010 Unrest  


Kyle Estes (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Paper long abstract:

Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) play a salient role in settings of intergroup violence, especially where sovereign-state governance is ineffective or approaching nonexistence. This describes the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan, particularly in the "southern capital" of Osh, during and in the months following June 2010. Following the April ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan was governed by a provisional government with contested legitimacy and limited capacity. The June 2010 violence along ethnic Uzbek and Kyrgyz lines in the city of Osh resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of internal and external refugees. Given these conditions, southern Kyrgyzstan was a prime candidate for peacekeeping assistance from regional and intergovernmental organizations. A particularly well-positioned force to take on this role was the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had a presence in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Interim President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbaeva called on outside assistance to quell the violence from a very early point. Despite direct calls for foreign intervention, no aid in limiting the violence was forthcoming. I examine the nonintervention of the OSCE in southern Kyrgyzstan through the lens of "organized hypocrisy." Multi-member organizations such as the OSCE often contain countervailing preferences and values. The difficulty of coordinating actors within such international organizations predictably leads to situations in which the available material resources are insufficient to match up to the expressed, constitutive norms and goals of an organization. This appears to outside actors as a failure of the organization to meet its expressed mandates and, consequently, a failure of governance. In many cases, rhetoric is consistent with organizational ideals, yet no action is taken. This is particularly the case in the area of international peacekeeping and intervention due to highly-valued—yet often contradictory—norms, such as respect for sovereignty and the so called "responsibility to protect." I employ primary source, documentary and interview materials with key decision makers, both in the Kyrgyzstani political elite and the OSCE, to illuminate this theme.

Panel REG-08
Politics and Identity in Kyrgyzstan