Strategic reconstruction and development assessment - North Caucasus

from Forum on Early Warning and Early Response
Published on 31 Dec 2005

The study presented here has been commissioned by the UK government's Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) to obtain a better understanding of the situation in the North Caucasus for all actors with an interest in socio-economic recovery and stabilisation in the region.

The study takes the form of a Strategic Reconstruction and Development Assessment (SRDA), core of which is an analysis of security, development and governance (and the relationships between them) in the North Caucasus at regional and local levels.

SRDA also reviews the policy directions of Russian institutions and current Russian and international responses to the situation in North Caucasus and concludes with a set of strategic recommendations


The Russian Federation has three main objectives in the North Caucasus: to maintain sovereignty over the region; to strengthen political and economic governance; and to combat the growth of terrorism.

Moscow sees its interests in the North Caucasus as threatened by a number of external factors including: US policy in the Caucasus; western "soft power" support to pro-democracy movements; and the proliferation of Islamist ideology. The Russian government is also concerned that the situation in the North Caucasus could undermine its international standing.

In spite of agreement on the broad policy objectives, Russian policy making and implementation is not fully coherent, with different actors and institutions within and outside of the bureaucracy pursuing different agendas.

Formulation and implementation of a coherent strategy for the region are hampered by lobbying by different interest groups and corruption. In particular policy coherence and implementation are undermined by the narrow economic and political interests and activities of the regional elites to whom Moscow has largely devolved political administration and economic management of the region.

On the ground, the Russian government places too much focus on military solutions to problems of conflict and security. Disproportionate use of force, accompanied by human rights abuses, proved counterproductive in the past and led to an increase in radicalism and extremism. Not enough resources have been put into developing non-violent conflict management mechanisms including the promotion of greater political participation and democracy.

In economic development there is too much emphasis on infrastructural projects and not enough on investment in the social sector and job creation (particularly at community and district levels) which could help to address some of the underlying grievances that fuel conflict and extremism.

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