Sponsored by The International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy
with comments by
Project Manager, Open Society Justice Initiative (New York)
and moderated by
International Forum for Democratic Studies
Violent clashes in June 2010 between the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek populations of southern Kyrgyzstan and the recent intensification of nationalistic tendencies demand widespread participation in conflict prevention and peace building. As sixty percent of Kyrgyzstan’s population, young people will be integral to future decision-making and policy planning procedures. In view of this, creating formal and informal spaces for youth participation in political life should be prioritized by both the government and the donor community.
In her presentation Ms. Nadira Eshmatova focused on the challenges facing youth in Kyrgyzstan, as well as on how the country’s ongoing socio-political transition is shaping opportunities for youth activism. She suggested ways in which organizations working with youth can ensure that young people are actively involved in the reconciliation and democracy building processes in Kyrgyzstan. Ms. Eshmatova concluded by suggesting strategies to better engage Kyrgyz and Uzbek youth, especially in the south of Kyrgyzstan.
Her presentation was followed by comments from Ms. Maria Lisitsyna.
Ms. Nadira Eshmatova is co-founder and executive director of the Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG), a Bishkek-based nongovernmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights abuses in Central Asia. Over the course of her career at YHRG, she has developed and facilitated numerous professional trainings for activists, lawyers, and NGO colleagues; participated in monitoring the rights of refugee children, orphans, and juveniles in the justice system; taught human rights classes at schools in Bishkek; coordinated educational programs for teachers; and directed advanced courses on international human rights standards. She has also taught international law at Kyrgyz National University and has served as an independent election observer in Norway and Kyrgyzstan. During her fellowship, Ms. Eshmatova is studying youth activism in post-conflict Kyrgyzstan, specifically its capacity to facilitate change both inside and outside the country’s political system, and its role in promoting reconciliation between Kyrgyz and Uzbek elements in Kyrgyz society.
Ms. Maria Lisitsyna is the project manager of “Legal Remedies for Torture in Central Asia” at the Open Society Justice Initiative in New York and a former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the Endowment.