chapter  3
14 Pages

Tajikistan

The lengthy peace process that put an end to a violent civil war in Tajikistan represents a fairly successful case of multiparty mediation in which the activities of external actors were “exceptionally well coordinated” (Barnes and Abdulaev 2001, 11). This was an extremely complex process in which the essential contributions to the resolution of the conflict came from a wide variety of actors. Most of the rounds of talks, supported by the OSCE, were held under the auspices of the UN, while observer states took turns hosting them, thus providing a substantial contribution toward reaching an agreement (Iji 2001). At the same time, the process also benefited from the participation of different non-state actors and was aided by a very dynamic second-track dialogue process2 that came out of the US-Soviet Dartmouth Conference (Rubin 1998; Saunders 1999). Nevertheless, among all the different mediators involved, Russia and Iran played a pivotal role in the peace process. According to Iji, “it was their collaboration that moved the intractable conflict in Tajikistan toward a settlement” (2001, 365). Both countries had strong interests in the conflict and highly developed relationships with warring parties, the combination of which allowed them to assume the role of potentially effective third parties. Barnes and Abdullaev point out that “with an interest in the outcome of the war, they became in effect ‘secondary parties’ to the conflict . . . although they contributed initially to the war effort they later became vital resources to the peace process” (Barnes and Abdullaev 2001, 8). According to Hay, the main three reasons for the breakthrough in the negotiations were: conflicting parties were exhausted from continuous fighting; Russia and Iran managed to reach a convergence of interests to promote peace in Tajikistan; and the security concerns created by the Taliban taking over of Kabul (Hay 2001, 39). These factors allowed for a UN-led and coordinated multiparty mediation effort to produce a mutually acceptable solution for the parties in conflict. Therefore, the peace process in Tajikistan potentially represents a case of multiparty mediation in which eventual success was directly dependent upon the interests of powerful neighboring states, regional geo-political conditions, and international organizations’ legitimate power to coordinate the activities of multiple third parties.