Tsypylma Darieva (ZOiS, Centre for East European and international Studies)
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- Room 303A
- Sunday 13 October, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Zulfiyya Abdurahimova-Carberry (Harvard University)
Paper long abstract:
This project focuses on decentralization programs in Azerbaijan within the framework of democracy promotion policy (DPP) by Western donors. Starting 1960s Western donors have funded hundreds of decentralization programs in almost every corner of the world within the framework of development aid (which was called democracy assistance programs starting 1980s). The US democracy promoters have implemented dozens of local government assistance programs in Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s and in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in 1990s. The rationale behind these programs was to counterbalance the power of the dominant executive in the recipient country. In the early 1960s, the focus of the decentralization efforts was administrative, the transfer of functional responsibilities, and financial, the transfer of responsibility for government spending. In the 1980s decentralization programs promoted political decentralization, meaning transferring accountability and representation to the local level, through local elections. In this project, I examine all three types of decentralization projects—administrative, financial, and political.
Findings of works on decentralization in the academic and policy community are mixed although the majority of studies show that the impact of the decentralization programs is weak and did not achieve the desired result, which was reducing the power accumulation in the central executive's hand. The up to date literature review indicates an unintended outcome across cases: locally powerful becomes beneficiary of decentralization. Examining the challenges to and the reasons of the unintended outcome of decentralization in Azerbaijan, I argue that such programs are designed and implemented without considering the local context and left without monitoring and help for the consolidation in the hands of the old elite.
This is a qualitative research and the primary sources will be the official documents of DPP by the Western donors; results as well as variations of the results in the local elections; interviews with locals who have experienced land purchase during the Soviet Union and after introducing the local governments (main source of corruption in the regions), with local government officials, people who have been in the election observation mission and/or election committee in the local elections. A review of a published bibliography of more than 500 studies written until 1983 and dozens of additional studies on decentralization from the 1990s onward show that there is no comprehensive study on decentralization in Azerbaijan. My research project aims to fill this gap.
Author:Nicole Wright (Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University)
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Georgia, with a particular focus on the support they receive from the United States. Given this focus, I assess the effectiveness of past U.S. initiatives directed toward Georgian CSO development and conduct a modified policy analysis to develop a policy recommendation. I use the case study method, as well as scholarly literature and program evaluations related to support for Georgian CSOs, to inform this recommendation. I identify three potential policy options for consideration: 1) The United States directly supports CSOs as a means of promoting democracy (e.g., through training and technical assistance initiatives and direct funding). 2) The United States does not directly support CSOs, but rather, directs funding toward interventions such as election monitoring and political process assistance. 3) The United States does not involve itself in civil society or democracy promotion in Georgia under any circumstances.
Based on my analysis, I recommend the first policy option, although with some additional nuance and caveats. I hypothesize that civil society performs best (and most faithfully to the will of the people) if it is allowed to develop more organically, with basic support and direction provided up front. However, if there is a threat to civil society, intervention may become necessary. To test this hypothesis, I examine the case of U.S. direct support to Georgian CSOs following the Rose Revolution (circa 2003-2004). This paper also analyzes my recommendation in the context of the current role of CSOs in the democratization and development of Georgia.
My work will inform readers about how we can better understand the role of Georgian civil society. Georgia is still in the process of consolidating its democracy, but has frequently been cited as a possible leader in the post-Soviet region. It is also a politically and geographically strategic partner in today's post-Soviet landscape, particularly in light of growing Russian intervention. At this time, there are still gaps in our understanding of whether (and how) CSOs can effectively operate in the modern post-Soviet space. There is a lack of consensus even amongst key resources and reports. Further, there is little consensus in both the research and policy communities on the best course of action for policymakers looking to strengthen CSOs and ultimately, promote democratization. This work aims to fill that gap with both recent history and the current state of Georgian civil society.
Author:Hayk Paronyan (Universidad Regional Autónoma de los Andes - UNIANDES)
Paper long abstract:
The recent political crisis was an example of underestimation of the gap between the Armenian government and society at large. The difficult economic situation, the poverty of the population and unresolved political and social problems, on the one hand, and the popular anger at the oligarchic system of governance and pervasive corruption, on the other, sharply increased people's dissatisfaction with the former Armenian government. This study, carried out through documentary research from a qualitative perspective, aimed to analyze the reasons and consequences of the Armenian political crisis, to answer the following questions: why Armenia's 'Velvet Revolution' won without a shot fired and should it be a model for other post-Soviet countries to follow? By focusing on the case of Armenia, this paper argues that the importance of peaceful protests is much more effective than violence for overthrowing an authoritarian regime.