Duration: March 2013 to March 2016
Regions/countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine
Minorities: Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Assyrians, Avars, Belarusians, Bulgarians, Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Georgians, Gagauz, Jews, Kurds, Lezgins, Moldovans, Ossetians, Poles, Russians, Roma, Talysh, Tats Ukrainians, Yezidi and others.
What is this programme about?
Together with partners, we established a regional network for organizations working on minority issues. We built the capacity of minority organizations in the region to undertake effective human rights advocacy at national and European level, in particular ensuring the full participation of minorities in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) process.
What is the Eastern Partnership?
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a European Union initiative directed at six countries of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Launched in 2009, the EaP aims at tightening the relationship between the EU and the Eastern partners by deepening their political co-operation and economic integration. It offers deeper integration with the EU structures by encouraging and supporting them in their political, institutional and economic reforms based on EU standards. The EaP provides a substantial opportunity for minorities to influence decision-making on issues that affect them. A central commitment within the EaP includes protection of human rights and specifically the rights of vulnerable communities.
Why are we running this programme?
Although each country operates in its own context, there are common challenges facing minorities in the region. These countries are former Soviet Union countries, so many of these challenges stem from nation building. For example, independence from the Soviet Union has led to an increase in nationalism. In this context many minorities are being treated as “guests”, regardless of their historic relationship to a particular territory.
Ethnic/regional conflicts in disputed territories such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria mean calls for greater autonomy by minorities are treated with hostility and suspicion by the public and authorities. Economic reforms have also led to increased economic inequality between minority and majority communities, as the impact has been more negative in rural and remote areas where minorities are more likely to reside. Conflicts and human rights violations in neighbouring regions have also bought new communities of often more “visible” minorities to the region, where authorities may lack experience in integrating new minority communities.
There is a clear link between the failure to realize minority rights and minorities’ lack of participation in civil, political and economic life, and their marginalization and relative poverty. This requires a greater intervention by civil society.
What are we doing?
- Train partners on the regional policy framework of the Eastern Partnership and on minority rights advocacy.
- Establish a regional civil society network, comprising at least 90 minority organizations and activists.
- Coordinate local and national advocacy and awareness campaigns on minority issues and the Eastern Partnership.
- Hold best practice seminars to share regional civil society practice and develop new and innovative strategies addressing minority rights.
- Publish the first Community Service Organizations advocacy guide to the Eastern Partnership, a policy paper assessing the impact of the EaP on minority issues and a resources website.
- Participation in EaP Civil Society Forums and other regional development fora by minority organizations.
Find out more:
Who is delivering it with us?
Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consultations (ACICC) seeks to improve integration and civic and political participation of community-based minorities organizations in Georgia.
Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (ACGRC) supports public sector reforms and development of good practices in local governance, produces expert assessments and analysis of conflict transformation and regional cooperation issues.
ECMI Caucasus works to improve the competencies of minority organizations and assists governments in building institutional capacities to develop and implement policies on national minority issues.
No Borders Project/Social Action Centre provides legal support for refugees from Central Asia and for victims of hate crimes and discrimination, and runs a project on hate speech monitoring.
This evaluation examined the implementation of Minority Rights Group’s ‘Eastern Partnership Minorities Network’, a program funded by the European Union. The project’s goal was to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Eastern Partnership countries, as well as empower minority communities to effectively participate in reforms and democratic changes that affect their lives. Increased capacities and networking between minority activists and CSOs has shown to likewise increase the engagement with relevant national authorities and strengthen their role within the Eastern Partnership. This allows them to effectively participate in democratic and policy processes, positively impacting development and human rights for their communities. This evaluation faced some difficulties regarding the wide geography of the EaPMN, the multi-stakeholder approach, and the limited time for in-country missions, all of which led to difficulties in gathering the qualitative and quantitative achievements of the project.
The evaluation ultimately showed that the project was a relevant, ambitious, flexible, and structured initiative, represented by the multi-country and multi-stakeholder ‘up-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches. It was well designed to address the challenges of involving key actor CSOs, as well as national and local authorities, in order to mainstream the minority issues in the EaP region, to increase knowledge on EaP related issues, and to consolidate networking. The project shows progress towards its outcomes, and shows tangible results in all components: advocacy, capacity building, publications and research, and awareness raising. The projects scored well in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and Ukraine, which can be attributed to the MRG project management team and national implementers staying focused on the planned activities in spite of external challenges, particularly the political climate at the time. These challenges appeared to be insurmountable in Belarus and Azerbaikan, making the delivery of planned activities in these countries unrealistic. The evaluator praised the work done by MRGE, concluding that the project “managed to establish an informal network of minority CSOs for a broader cooperation, information sharing and coordination on minority issues. It was the only network in the EaP region specifically for minority CSOs and minority activists. This coalition expanded and includes about 80 minority and human rights CSOs, as well as think tanks and individual minority leaders.”
Regarding recommendations to MRG for future initiatives, the evaluator urged MRG to keep developing new initiatives on minority and EaP issues in the EaP region and consolidate networking of minority NGOs, to undertake KAP assessment and use the findings for development of other minority issues initiatives, to keep the six country format of the initiatives in the EaP region, to have an implementing partner in each country from the EaP region, and finally to plan for exchange of experience and study visits within EaP region.
Download the full evaluation
The Eastern Partnership Minorities Network project (ENPI/2012/304-332) is co-funded by the European Union. This content is the sole responsibility of Minority Rights Group Europe and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.