The OSCE Academy in Bishkek is welcoming proposals for its Central Asia Policy Briefs Series on topics related to comprehensive security and development in Central Asia. The topics may cover various facets of comprehensive security and development, including, but not limited to, socioeconomic determinants of security, identity-based conflicts, politics and religion, ethnopolitics, security organizations, economic development, international relations, the situation in Afghanistan and other neighboring states. Central Asia Policy Briefs are intended to foster interaction among policy, expert, and scholarly communities.
The policy briefs are published online in pdf format and are made available on the Academy’s website and Facebook page. Submissions can be made in English or Russian. The Academy seeks in the future to make selected issues available in Central Asian languages as well. Submission guidelines can be downloaded here. Chicago style manuscript is used for the Policy Briefs; you can access guidelines here. Guidelines for reviewers can be found here.
The OSCE Academy offers an honorarium of 150 Euro per Policy Brief publication and provides with a peer review process, proofreading support, and further guidance. There is no submission deadline as we accept proposals on the rolling basis.
Latest Publications under the OSCE Academy Policy Briefs Series
Policy Brief No.60: Regulating Corporate Social Responsibiliy (CSR) in the Large-Scale Mining Sector in Kyrgyzstan
By Asel Doolotkeldieva Download
The recent regulation of CSR in large-scale mining in Kyrgyzstan – despite its many positive effects – presents an elusive framework of action for the mining companies. While mining entities across the world tend to apply CSR within the prism of ‘risk management’ rather than altruistic concerns, in Kyrgyzstan this is, in addition, linked to obscure legislation and weak enforcement. The new legislative framework does not provide specific guidelines as to how to define the scope, content, and extent of social corporate responsibility. Applied differently to each individual mining project in the absence of a general principle, CSR becomes a source of contention between the mining entities, local communities, and the central government. Often such ad hoc corporate programs are accompanied by adverse effects since they lead to a distorted development on the ground and further conflicts with communities. However, compliance to and engagement with social responsibility still offers the companies a chance to secure access to land and to continue operations amidst local protests and a volatile political and institutional environment.
Policy Brief No.59: The Crime-Terror-Insurgency Nexus Security Threat: The Impact on Central Asia
By Daniela Irrera Download
This policy brief analyses the impact of the relationships between organised crime, terrorism and insurgency on security in Central Asia. The nexus between terrorism and organised crime is the strategic alliance of two non-state actors, able to exploit illegal markets and influence policy-making at the global level. It refers to a complex of insecurities, specifically the ability of criminals and terrorists to increase their performance at the global level, to establish their headquarters inside failed and weak states, and to interact with other groups that violently oppose the state, namely insurgents and paramilitaries. As a region affected by various security threats, authoritarian regimes, unstable political and economic institutions, and as a strategic area located between Europe and Asia, Central Asia offers an important point of observation for the convergence of various subversive actors and their negative impact on political institutions. The state plays an essential role in the worsening of local security conditions. Organised crime groups are more likely to build closer links with state structures, either indirectly or directly. Thus, a ‘crime-state nexus’ may be an additional component.1 This deserves further investigation. The brief initially describes the nexus and its impact on security; then explores the potential danger in Central Asia; and ends by providing some policy recommendations which focus on the need to draw responses in the light of the hybridity of threats.
Numerous anti-Chinese protests in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan over the mistreatment of Turkic ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Chinese labor migration, and growing economic dependency of Central Asian countries on China demonstrate the looming anti-Chinese sentiments in the region. Although such sentiments are somewhat muted in other Central Asian countries, it is only a matter of time before the public in these countries start voicing their concerns. Obsessed with Chinese multi-billion dollar investments, regional autocracies have largely been reluctant in responding to Sinophobic pressure from below. Being authoritarian in nature, they are interested in maintaining the status quo by repressing the opposition. Fortunately for them, Sinophobia is not real; it is rather a public fear of the unknown represented by the Chinese failure to ‘advertise’ itself through soft power means. The author argues that Sinophobia can become real as the anti-Chinese protesters start politicizing their claims. Nationalist rhetoric would shift from a pure anti-Chinese agenda to that of demanding liberal political reforms.
Policy Brief No. 54: How Serious is the ISIS Threat to Tajikistan?
By Khamza Sharifzoda Download
• As it reorients itself from the Middle East to South Asia, the Islamic State now represents an even greater threat to the security of Central Asia than when it was at its zenith in Syria and Iraq. Given its competition with al-Qaeda, ISIS aims to reemphasize its strength and global nature by inspiring attacks in countries like Tajikistan, which were previously off its radar.
• ISIS’s main strategies for recruitment and inspiring attacks are to take advantage of existing cleavages in different societies and to discredit governments across the globe. The current policies of the Tajik government only fuel ISIS propaganda and facilitate recruitment efforts. Small- to medium-sized incidents such as attacks on foreigners, bombings of buildings and cars, and riots are likely to take place in the near future. Given Tajikistan’s mountainous terrain and weak institutions and policing in the provinces, Islamic insurgency, which has occurred in the past, is a possibility.
• Large-scale attacks in Tajikistan should not be expected. In the Islamic State’s strategy, Tajikistan is likely to continue serving as a breeding ground for recruits.
• One possible negative externality of the presence, real or perceived, of ISIS militants in South Asia will be a question of Tajikistan’s sovereignty.
• Reform of the prisons may help limit the threat of returnees, while reform of education focuses on those who have not yet been radicalized.
Policy Brief No. 53: Turkmen Natural Gas in the European Energy Security Discourse: Perceptions, Realities, Outlook
By Tamás Kozma Download
• Although Central Asia has long been of pivotal interest to the European Union (EU), the latter has been unable to become an influential actor in the region. However, energy issues, in particular the establishment of natural gas ties with Turkmenistan, have steadily remained at the centre of the EU’s strategic aspirations in Central Asia.
While the EU seeks to introduce new suppliers into its energy security architecture, export diversification is a strategic necessity for Turkmenistan.
• Even if the results have been very limited in this field, the EU’s determination for reaching out to Turkmen natural gas has proven to be unwavering, and this has consistently been reflected in the EU’s energy policy discourse.
• When it comes to analysing the chances of Turkmenistan–EU gas relations, theconclusion is inevitable that this question cannot be assessed simply on a bilateral basis, as these relations are inseparable from the developments of regional energy geopolitics. Thus, Turkmenistan–EU energy relations can be properly analysed only if due attention is paid to all the relevant regional actors including Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, China, Turkey, etc.
Policy Brief No. 52: Making Sense of the Belt and Road Initiative
By Niva Yau Tsz Yan Download
This article provides a theoretical ground in making sense of the Belt and Road Initiative and accordingly offers relevant policy recommendations for Central Asian states. Understanding the initiative in the framework of Chinese foreign policy, this theoretical ground offers a different lens in thinking about the debt trap, as well as other contested Belt and Road issues.
Policy Brief No. 51: Drivers of Urban Transition in Afghanistan and the Countries Urban Future
By Naqibullah Ahmadi Download
• Afghanistan is among the fastest urbanizing countries in the world, which is induced by fragile security situation, poor economic conditions, lack of basic services and public utilities in the rural areas and also by social preferences.
• Persistent wars and conflicts have been prevailing in the country during the last four decades. Afghan urban centers are seen as more secure than rural areas since their majority have been controlled by the central government, protecting them against insurgent attacks.
• The sectoral distribution of employment differs markedly between urban and rural areas, with agriculture more prominent in rural areas and services more prominent in towns and cities. Agriculture, the main employment generating sector in rural Afghanistan, is highly vulnerable to climatic and weather related shocks beside dominance of low productivity and disguised unemployment.
• The urban-rural gap in access to basic services has prevailed in different ranges in Afghanistan, thus differences have acted as a push factor for rural-urban migration in Afghanistan. People move to cities in search of benefiting urban services, health care, educational opportunities and higher standard of living.
• In Afghanistan, service delivery and infrastructure development has not kept pace with the country’s rapid urban transition thus Afghan cities have grown haphazardly, informally, with limited access to affordable and quality basic services. Particularly the rapid urban growth has caused the rise of urban slums, climate change, air pollution and traffic congestion in big cities of Afghanistan.
• Managing the increasing trend of urbanization in Afghanistan requires comprehensive and long term urban development initiatives. The initiatives need to cover urban and rural locations equally to decrease the trend of urban transition on the one hand and on the other, shelter provision and urban management has to be implemented equally.
Policy Brief No. 50: The Development of Organic Agriculture in the Kyrgyz Republic: Economic and Ecological Sustainability
By Maral Sagynalieva Download
Agriculture was a priority economic sector during Soviet times in the Kyrgyz Republic and has been since the country’s independence in 1991. Moreover, both under a planned economy and market economy the agricultural sector has been employing more 60% of the country’s population. However, for over 25 years the agrarian sector has been steadily lagging behind other sectors, and advanced methods of crop cultivation have proved ineffective. Therefore, the Kyrgyz government should pursue to apply the best practices and policies of agricultural development, one of which is organic agriculture as organic products are currently in high demand in the world.
The Kyrgyz government’s involvement in developing organic agricultural policies and practices is of high importance, especially when elaborating and implementing the legislative framework and public administration. Additionally, the proposed area of focus is soundly aligned with the goals of the Kyrgyz Republic’s national sustainable development strategy for the period of 2018-2020. In order to elaborate a legitimate document on organic agriculture there is need to increase interests of the stakeholders and civil society. Comprehensive government protection and fiscal policies on organic agriculture will be among the constructive tools to attract foreign direct investment into sustainable organic development of agriculture in the future.
Policy Brief No. 49: Regional Integration as an Energy Security Strategy: Lessons for Central Asia from Europe’s Efforts towards Security of Supply through Regulatory Integration
By Richard Wheeler Download
• Recent improvements in relations between the countries in Central Asia provide an opportunity to re-integrate the regional energy system for the benefit of the region’s countries;
• However, reconnecting the Central Asian electricity grid and energy systems will require a more modern technologically and regulatory approach than was the case during Soviet times. Properly integrating variable renewable sources of energy - which will be beneficial from a security of supply perspective, as well as necessary to implement the Paris Agreement targets on decarbonization - will require new methods;
• European bodies such as the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), ENTSOG and ENTSO-E (the European Networks for Transmission System Operators for gas and electricity, respectively) have deep experience in guiding countries in creating a regional regulatory framework to facilitate cross-border energy trade. The Energy Community has broad experience in working with countries which are outside the EU regulatory framework. These organizations have many applicable best practices to offer the countries of Central Asia in creating the necessary regulatory frameworks;
• Cooperation with organizations which are recognized platforms for dialogue in energy- related topics in the Central Asian region - such as the OSCE, SCO Energy Club and the Task Force on Regional Electricity Cooperation in Asia (RECA, launched with the cooperation of the Energy Charter) - can provide a positive multiplier effect in disseminating best practices of the above-referenced specialist technical organizations.
Policy Brief No. 48: The Role of Russia in the Central Asian Security Architecture
By Fabio Indeo Download
• Russia considers the Eurasia region as an exclusive sphere of influence to protect from external interferences providing security by means of bilateral cooperation and multilateral institutions such as the CSTO. Within the CSTO framework, Moscow aims to play the role of regional security provider by means of joint military exercises, of the delivery of modern military equipment at Russian internal prices, of the presence of CSTO military bases in Central Asian republics as the Kant airbase in Kyrgyzstan and the Russian 201st Motor Rifle Division in Tajikistan.
• After 2014 Russia could have the great geopolitical opportunity to legitimate itself as the only security provider in Central Asia. Regional stability and security represent shared concerns of all actors involved and they should work together to contain and fight against destabilizing threats coming from Afghanistan.
• However, Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the explosive crisis with Ukraine have heavily damaged Russia’s image in Central Asia, spreading serious concerns about Russian integration project in the security (CSTO) and political-economic field (EEU). Furthermore, the Russian economy’s crisis - linked to low oil prices and the effect of the Western sanctions - have frozen Moscow’s pledged investments to upgrade military capacities in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, while the reiterated refusal of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to join CSTO (considering that Uzbekistan has voluntarily left the CSTO in 2012 for the second time) undermines the Russian project to realize a Central Asian security architecture under Moscow’s leadership.
Policy Brief No. 47: Local Drivers of War in Afghanistan's Helmand Province
By Qayoom Suroush Download
• Violence and war in Afghanistan’s Helmand province have turned to a strategic and long-term policy by stakeholders, as a result of which there have not been a comprehensive program for improving public services and reforming local institutions to benefit the population;
• Available indicators point to overall popularity of the Taliban insurgents in Helmand. In contrast to what has commonly been believed, however, it is not the Taliban’s political message and their narrative of Islamic Sharia that attracts local communities to their rule, but the self-interest and economic benefits that entices the majority agrarian local population to support them;
• There are three important drivers of the conflict in Helmand—the strength and influence of local warlords, the factor of agricultural land rights, and the drug trade—together which they continue to keep the province as one of the most violent and insubordinate to central government authority in Afghanistan;
• The local population of Helmand both the elites and ordinary communities have reached an informal or undeclared alliance with the insurgent groups to maximize their interests. They use the alliance with insurgents as an instrument (a) to lobby for political power, and (b) to earn incomes and gain financial benefits from the drug trade and illicit economy.
Policy Brief No. 46: The Effect of the EEU on Business Community in Kyrgyzstan (Russian language)
By Lidiya Chikalova Download
• The investment climate has chances for improvement, when the judicial and legal mechanisms for foreign funds will devlope and local investment market will have the precedents of successful cases.
• The experience of entrepreneurs who invested in the economy of the Kyrgyz Republic, showed that there is no culture of foreign direct investment in the country and trade. In today's market there are no positive examples of establishing new partnerships with foreign donors.
• The problem that Kyrgyzstan faces today is not a problem of accession to the EEA, but the economic growth and conditions for business development and attraction of investments. Low competitiveness of industrial goods is one of the main business tasks. After elimination obstacles preventing entrepreneurs from entering the market the positive changes can be expected.
Policy Brief No. 45: KYRGYZSTAN AND THE EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION-A PARTNERSHIP WITH OBSTACLES
By Ann-Sophie Gast Download
• Two years and a half ago Kyrgyzstan joined the Eurasian Economic Union. The main reasons for accession were dependence on Russian and Kazakh markets as well as the large number of Kyrgyz labor migrants working in Russia and sending remittances home on a regular basis. Moreover, Russia offered an attractive package of compensations and concessions to make accession more attractive and facilitate the transition period.
• So far results are mixed. While FDI has increased and the situation of Kyrgyz labor migrants has improved, the desired economic boost and modernization have not materialized yet. Furthermore, overall export has declined and trade with China, Kyrgyzstan’s largest trading partner, went down. This is due to poor preparations on the Kyrgyz side, difficulties to implement the requirements of the Union, but also a general economic slow-down in the Eurasian region and a diplomatic conflict with Kazakhstan.
• To profit from Eurasian integration in the future, the Kyrgyz government has to invest more resources in the implementation of technical regulations and the establishment of laboratories. Moreover, it has to support small and medium-sized businesses in the difficult transit period. In the long run, the Kyrgyz economic model needs to be transformed and should no longer rely on re-export and remittances, but on its own production and labor force instead. The creation of jobs and the diversification of export structures are crucial in this regard.
• Last but not least, the Kyrgyz government should invest in the education and training of experts on Eurasian integration to be placed both at the domestic level as well as at the supranational level at the Eurasian Economic Commission in Moscow to lobby Kyrgyz interests more efficiently.
Policy Brief No. 44: Afghanistan's Mineral Reserves Catastrophe/Quandary: Hopes and Fears Concerning the Development of Mineral Reserves
By Mahdi Frough Download
Policy Brief No. 43: Tranquility or Turbulence in Tashkent? Uzbekistan in the Post-Karimov
By Charles J. Sullivan Download
Policy Brief No. 42: RUSSIAN MEDIA DISCOURSES ON SYRIAN REFUGEES IN EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIAN LABOUR MIGRANTS IN RUSSIA: RUSSIA FOR RUSSIANS, EUROPE FOR…?
By Rashid Gabdulhakov Download
Policy Brief No. 41: RADICALIZATION AND VIOLENT EXTREMISM IN CENTRAL ASIA AND AFGHANISTAN
By Muhammad Idrees Download
Policy Brief No. 40: EXTREMISM IN TERMS OF SYSTEMIC TRANSFORMATION IN CONTEMPORARY KYRGYZSTAN
By Elmira Toktosunova Download
Policy Brief No. 39: FACTORS INFLUENCING FORMATION OF ELECTORAL OPINION IN THE KYRGYZ REPUBLIC
By Dmitrii Lazarenko Download
Policy Brief No. 38: CONTEXTUALIZING THE ISSUE OF RETURNEES AND ANALYZING RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE APPLICABLE TO CENTRAL ASIA
By Chingiz Batyrbekov Download
Policy Brief No. 37: FAMILY PLANNING TRAININGS FOR THE NEWLYWEDS IN TAJIKISTAN
By Madina Muratova Download
Policy Brief No. 36: CLIMATE CHANGE AS A POLITICAL THREAT MULTIPLIER IN CENTRAL ASIA
By Lidiya Chikalova Download
Policy Brief No. 35: LGBT IN KYRGYZSTAN: FROM ANTI-GAY PROPAGANDA BILL TO HATE CRIME?
By Sappho M. Bonheur Download
Policy Brief No. 34: CORRUPTION IN UZBEK HIGHER EDUCATION: DETRIMENTAL IMPURITY FOR THE FUTURE
By Albina Yun Download
Policy Brief No. 33: INCLUSION OF SMALL FARMERS INTO PRODUCTION VALUE CHAINS THROUGH STRENGTHENING AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES IN KAZAKHSTAN
By Gulaikhan Kubayeva Download
Policy Brief No. 32: SECURITY OF THE CENTRAL ASIAN ENERGY SYSTEM: INSTITUTIONAL VERSUS STATE INTERESTS
By Farkhod Aminjonov Download
Policy Brief No. 31: ADDRESSING THE DAESH THREAT IN THE CONTEXT OF CENTRAL ASIA
By Belek Ibraev Download
Policy Brief No. 30: SOCIALIZATION IN VIOLENCE AND THE POST-2014 APPROACH IN AFGHANISTAN
By Svetlana Dzardanova Download
Policy Brief No. 29: REGIME SECURITY VERSUS HUMAN SECURITY: THE CASE OF AN UPRISING IN KYRGYZSTAN, 2010
By Almakan Orozobekova and Alexander Wolters Download
Policy Brief No. 28: THE ETHNO-POLITICAL PROCESSES IN MODERN KYRGYZSTAN: ANALYSIS OF 2010-2015 YEARS
By Elmira Toktosunova (Russian version only) Download
Policy Brief No. 27: TAJIKISTAN IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH: DEVELOPMENT DIPLOMACY, NONTRADITIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL PRESTIGE
By Jason E. Strakes Download
Policy Brief No. 26: THE OSCE IN CENTRAL ASIA: VICTIM OF GEOPOLITICS OR PROMOTER OF DEMOCRACY? A VIEW FROM UZBEKISTAN
By Farkhod Tolipov Download
Policy Brief No. 25: TAPI AND CASA-1000: WIN-WIN TRADE BETWEEN CENTRAL ASIA AND SOUTH ASIA
By Sayed Masood Sadat Download
Policy Brief No. 24: ETHNIC MINORITIES’ POLITICAL MOBILIZATION: CASES OF UZBEKS AND PAMIRIS. FROM THE TAJIK CIVIL WAR TO THE 2012/2014 KHOROG EVENTS
By Azizzhon Berdykulov Download
Policy Brief No. 23: STATE REGULATION OF RELIGION IN KAZAKHSTAN: RECONSIDERATION OF APPROACHES
By Sergey Marinin Download
Policy Brief No. 22: AFGHANISTAN'S GROWING ETHNIC AND LINGUISTIC DIVIDES: TIME TO ADDRESS THEM
By Arwin Rahi Download
Policy Brief No. 21: LABOUR MIGRATION FROM CENTRAL ASIA TO RUSSIA: ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL IMPACT ON THE SOCIETIES OF KYRGYZSTAN, TAJIKISTAN, AND UZBEKISTAN
By Irina Malyuchenko Download
Policy Brief No. 20: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION ON CENTRAL ASIA
By Gulaikhan Kubayeva Download
Policy Brief No. 19: THE EFFECTS OF THE UKRAINE CRISIS ON TAJIKISTAN
By Uguloy Mukhtorova Download
Policy Brief No. 18: LESSONS OF THE OSCE POLICE ASSISTANCE IN CENTRAL ASIA WITH A CASE STUDY OF KYRGYZSTAN
By Reina Artur kyzy Download
Policy Brief No. 17: CHINA AS SECURITY PROVIDER IN CENTRAL ASIA POST 2014: A REALISTIC PERSPECTIVE?
By Dr Fabio Indeo Download
Policy Brief No. 16: MIGRANTS’ RE-ENTRY BANS TO THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION: THE TAJIK STORY
By Karolina Kluczewska Download
Policy Brief No. 15: THE JUNE 2010 ‘EVENTS’ FOUR YEARS ON: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
By Franco Galdini Download
Policy Brief No. 14: GEOGRAPHICAL ENCLAVES OF THE FERGHANA VALLEY: DO GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS?
By Rashid Gabdulhakov Download
Policy Brief No. 13: CENTRAL ASIA'S NATURAL GAS: THE PITFALLS OF ENERGY EXPORT DIVERSIFICATION
By Farkhod Aminjonov Download
Policy Brief No. 12: AFGHANISTAN’S TRANSITION TOWARDS 2014: IMPLICATIONS FOR CENTRAL ASIA
By Said Reza Kazemi Download
Policy Brief No. 11: IS THERE A VIABLE FUTURE FOR US POLICY IN CENTRAL ASIA?
By Dr. Roger Kangas Download
Policy Brief No. 10: KHOROG MILITARY OPERATION AND MARTIAL STATUS OF THE TAJIKISTAN ARMED FORCES
By Faredun Hodizoda (Russian version only) Download
Policy Brief No. 9: AFGHANISTAN: STATE, BOUNDARIES, AND THE THREATS OF PERPETUAL CONFLICT
By Elham Gharji Download
Policy Brief No. 8: COOPERATION OF MASS MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT BODIES IN JALAL-ABAD
By Valentina Galitch (Russian version only) Download
Policy Brief No. 7: INSTABILITY IN TAJIKISTAN? THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF UZBEKISTAN AND THE AFGHANISTAN FACTOR
By Christian Bleuer Download
Policy Brief No. 6: THE ARAB SPRING: IMPLICATIONS FOR EUROPE-EURASIAN RELATIONS?
By Graeme P. Herd and Violetta Yan Download
Policy Brief No. 5: TRANSIT AGREEMENTS, SECURITY COOPERATION AND AFGHANISTAN STABILIZATION
By Gregory Gleason Download
Policy Brief No. 4: THE STATE AT ITS BORDERS: THE INTERNAL DIMENSIONS OF KYRGYZSTAN’S BORDER SECURITY
By Katarzyna Czerniecka Download
Policy Brief No. 3: TRUST IN A TRADITIONAL, TOLERANT AND TRANSPARENT MULTI-LEVEL GAME? THE KAZAKHSTANI OSCE CHAIRMANSHIP 2010
By Anna Kreikemeyer Download
Policy Brief No. 2: COMPARING INDIA'S AND CHINA'S APPROACHES IN CENTRAL ASIA
By Ajay Patnaik Download
Policy Brief No. 1: RESURRECTING AN ENERGY TARIFF POLICY IN KYRGYZSTAN
By David Gullette Download