Events Calendar

Informal Justice in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan @ Lindner Commons
May 25 @ 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Informal Justice in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan @ Lindner Commons

with Azita Ranjbar and Dr. Eric McGlinchey

What role does informal justice play in resolving conflict in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan? Is there an inverse relationship between the use of informal justice mechanisms and properly functioning state institutions?  In Kyrgyzstan, aksakal courts (courts of elders) are village-level institutions responsible for resolving community-level disputes, although they are increasingly described as largely obsolete and only used in villages to resolve small disputes. Their authority to resolve cases is gradually diminishing;most aksakal courts surveyed received less than ten cases last year.  In Tajikistan, informal leaders,usually imams, often play a contradictory role: they often act as arbitrators and mitigate conflict within their communities and yet they oversee practices that can violate individual rights and contravene Tajik law, such as officiating marriages and divorces outside of state institutions. In recent years, the authority of informal leaders has increased because of the government’s inability to provide much needed social services, including fair and equal access to justice.
Azita Ranjbar spent a year in Tajikistan as a Fulbright Fellow and two months in Kyrgyzstan interviewing ordinary citizens on the role that informal justice plays in daily life. As an InternationalResearch and Exchanges Board research fellow, she carried out research on legal and economic challenges facing the families of migrant workers in Tajikistan. She worked as a Senior ProgramSpecialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace, on rule of law initiatives and peace building programs inAfghanistan and Pakistan. She previously conducted research in Afghanistan as a research assistant withDartmouth College and the Afghan Women Judges Association in Kabul.
Eric McGlinchey is an associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University and an associate in the Central Asia Program at The George Washington University. He received hisPh.D. from Princeton University in 2003. He is the author of Chaos, Violence, Dynasty Politics andIslam in Central Asia.
Border Security Assistance in Central Asia: Implications for Post-2014 Afghanistan @ Voesar Conference Room
Jun 21 @ 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Border Security Assistance in Central Asia: Implications for Post-2014 Afghanistan @ Voesar Conference Room
with George Gavrilis, Executive Director,The Hollings Center for International Dialogue
A discussion of Central Asia’s Border Woes & the Impact of International Assistance
Occasional Paper Series, Central Eurasia Project, Open Society Foundations
Please join us for a discussion on border security assistance in Central Asia and its implications for the 2014 U.S. and NATO drawdown in Afghanistan. Over the last decade, the states of Central Asia have hosted a number of international programs
designed to overhaul, equip, and reform the region’s border control practices aimed at making the borders more secure and
more open  more secure against threats such as narco trafficking and crossborder extremism and more open to licit civilian crossings and lucrative trade flows.Dr. Gavrilis will assess programs funded by the United States, European Union, United Nations, and other sponsors; discuss the accomplishments and limits that these programs face on the ground, particularly in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; and present recommendations for policymakers and the donor community as they prepare for a major change in the security environment in neighboring Afghanistan.
George Gavrilis is Executive Director of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, a nongovernment organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Istanbul.  He is author of The Dynamics of Interstate Boundaries (Cambridge University Press,2010), which examines how border guards, state officials, and local populations affect border security in new states. He has travelled extensively in Central Asia and the Middle East and has published articles on Afghanistan, the Central Asian republics, Iran, Israel, Turkey, and the West Bank in Foreign AffairsThe Washington Quarterly, and other forums for policy analysis and discussion. He received his PhD in political science from Columbia University and served as an assistant professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas, Austin. In 200809, he was an international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and spent his fellowship working with the United Nations on policy initiatives forCentral Asia and Afghanistan.
Central Asia’s Struggle with Religion @ Voesar Conference Room
Dec 6 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Central Asia's Struggle with Religion @ Voesar Conference Room

with Catherine Cosman, Senior Policy Analyst- U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom        

Central Asian governments use state-controlled Islam to build national identity, but also fear Islam’s influence and understand that Islam has greater mobilization potential than any other institution in their societies.  In the early 1990’s, there was fairly free access to various religious influences and the popularity of Islam and other religions increased rapidly. Today, however, Central Asian religion laws include: severe restrictions on religious education; strict limits or bans on children attending religious services; censorship and limits on religious literature; severe limits and controls on places of worship; bans on unregistered religious activity; restrictions on foreign influence, and difficult registration regulations.  Central Asian governments also attempt to control religion via government-controlled structures, including religious affairs committees and state-controlled religious bodies.Central Asian states have also have adopted wide-ranging policies to combat extremism, particularly the prosecution of alleged members of officially banned groups rather than proven involvement in violent acts.
Catherine Cosman is senior policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International ReligiousFreedom. Her areas of responsibility include the countries of the former Soviet Union, East andCentral Europe, and Western Europe.