"For the better life!"

Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2011 JoomlaWorks Ltd.

Democracy, a good terrain for mediation

326.02.2021   10:14

The article below was first published in French in the November 2020 Letter of the Association Nationale des Médiateurs (ANM France). Always quote the source fully. https://www.anm-mediation.com/article.php?fullid=136483

English translation from French

This article was written before 4 October, the day when Mr. Japarov took power un-constitutionally in the wake of rigged parliamentary elections. This shows the fragility of democracy. However civil society is still vibrant.

Mediation has been developing in the only democratic country of the former Soviet Union in Central Asia. This shows a correlation between a political regime which tends to promote equality between people and give power to its citizens on the one hand and mediation on the other hand which is a mode of conflict resolution that gives participants control of their history and of their relations with a view to restore social links.

Claire Reeves-Bugnion, who has helped the NGO Women’s Public Union Erayim as a volunteer for 15 years, shows readers the role that mediation can play in a country which was badly hurt by ethnic conflicts between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in 2010, totalling nearly 500 fatalities, mostly among the Uzbeks.

The Kyrgyz Republic is a secular state with a population of 6.3 millions inhabitants. It is 122nd out of 190 states on the United Nations Development Index. (It is on the map in blue to the south of Kazakhstan.)


2The NGO the Erayim (www.erayim.org) was founded by courageous graduate women to overcome the great deprivations caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The organisation supports the training of small groups of mutual aid in the poorest regions of the country, whether in the country-side or in the towns. They call themselves Self-Help-Groups or SHG. There are about 500 such groups now, which manage themselves democratically and pool their scant resources towards projects of economic, social, educational or cultural development in their communities, often through the micro-credit method. Their mission is to fight poverty, mitigate ethnic conflict, develop the talents of the new generation, improve the infrastructures and promote the interests of their poor communities.

In the South of Kyrgyzstan live side by side Kyrgyz citizens of diverse ethnic origins, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Tadjik or even Russian. Their co-existence is mostly friendly; there have always been interethnic marriages. This continues nowadays, albeit slightly less frequently. The 2010 conflict is seen in the country itself and on the international scene as a recrudescence of the earlier and much more severe un-resolved conflicts linked to the political upheavals of the 1980-1990s. They are due to the inequalities in the socio-economic, linguistic and judicial spheres as well as in the imbalance of political powers. Socio-economic inequalities can quickly transform into ethnical conflicts when populist politicians greedily seize the power.

If you wish to learn more please open the following link


Soon after the violent clashes of the spring of 2010 Erayim mobilised its Self-Help-Groups (SHG) to appease the tensions. Within days the NGO found Swiss and German funds to create urgently needed soup-kitchens for 200 children from the various ethnic groups affected by the fighting. At first the parents were scared and hesitated, but the children were already playing together after their shared meals. The two cooks, whose dress reveals their different cultures, continued to cooperate happily, cooking food in their large cauldrons behind the burnt-out school. Parents started to talk to each other again. Later Erayim provided school-books and uniforms but more importantly therapy for the distressed families. Thanks to funding from Germany, older school children were trained to broadcast on their school radio in two languages. Fathers from diverse cultures worked together to create two play-parks. Women re-opened their joint sewing workshops where both languages – related anyway- could be freely spoken.


It is on the basis of those experiences that Erayim started to develop the training of mediators, first among its own staff members then among the SHG in the South of the country which had been particularly affected by the difficulties between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities.

Two six-day courses took place in February 2020 in two localities for 24 members, one man among them, who had been selected by the SHG. There were 13 participants of Kyrgyz culture, 6 of Uzbek culture, 4 of Turk culture and one of Uyghur culture. The courses were led by a specialist of the National Mediation Centre of Kyrgyzstan, Gulsina KOZHOYAROVA, pictured below.


The course consisted of the following elements:

  • Introduction to Mediation
  • The mediator’s ability to facilitate conflict resolution
  • The mediator’s ability to communicate
  • The mediator’s emotional competency
  • The process of mediation
  • Judicial knowledge of the mediator

Theoretical notions were consolidated by role-play and practical exercises:

  • The founding principles of mediation
  • Family mediation
  • Community mediation

At the end of the course, participants took part in a test and received a certificate.



Among the participants, 12 of them will pursue their training and train volunteers, up to 170 in six localities. These volunteers come from the traditional Councils of Elders, or from women’s groups. They are social workers, school directors or school psychologists. They are all rooted in their communities and keen to facilitate the resolution of conflicts which might arise there. 3400 brochures and calendars and 20,000 stickers were published to inform the population on the specificities of mediation and on its judicial basis. Two short films will also be available on social media.

This project is financed by the German charity “Bread for the World” in the framework of a larger project called “Introduction to a combination of traditional and modern approaches to the prevention of conflicts in the South of Kyrgyzstan”.

The Basic courses were to be followed in March and April 2020 by the development of further training focussing specially on family mediation. They had to be postponed because of the pandemic.

The case stories presented on the Basic course and based on real life-stories, related to the following themes:

  • Sharing of matrimonial assets
  • Commercial and judicial conflicts
  • Alimony for children in cases of separation

You will no doubt recognise these sources of conflicts. They are universal. But they can take on diverse colours in various cultures, as will be shown in the examples below.

Case no 1.

Ruslan and Elmira have decided to divorce. They don’t really love each other. They only got married to please their parents who were good friends. Ruslan would like to recover the conjugal flat. Why doesn’t Elmira want to return to her parents, as is normally the national tradition in this situation ? There will be a need to overcome feelings of jealousy, treachery because of the adultery and issues of conjugal assets to share out. Vengeance ? Mutual punishments? Other romantic attachments to be revealed ? There will be lots to clarify amongst the painful feelings of both parties, through the process of mediation.

Case no 2.

Bakyt’s commercial parking is next to Ulan’s garage. One night, one of the mechanics creeps into the garage without the owner’s knowledge and starts doing some welding. Misery! Things go wrong and the garage catches fire. It spreads to the parking next door and causes much damage to one of the parked cars, that of Mr. K. The firemen try to save it but can’t move it because it is an automatic car and the gear brake is on. They have to break the windscreen to reach the commands. The court orders the owner of the parking to pay the costs of repairing Mr. K’ s car. This does not seem fair to him because the damage was caused by the fire in the adjoining garage. He requires the reimbursement of the compensation which he has already paid to Mr.K.

By careful listening during the mediation process, the parties uncover that there had been negligence on both sides. The owner of the garage had reminded the proprietor of the parking more than once in the past not to park cars so near the roof overhang, for instance because icicles might fall on the parked cars and damage them. On the other hand the owner of the parking asked how a mechanic had gained access to the garage despite the presence of a night watchman. There is the need for a long process of mediation. Wouldn’t the common interests and the reputation of both proprietors be better served if they could continue to cooperate and save their enterprises ? Do they not share the same customers?

Case no 3.

6Alisher and Malika divorced soon after Malika gave birth to their daughter. She had to return to her parents’ home and start proceedings to obtain alimony from the baby’s father. The court ordered him to pay alimony and arrears. But Alisher had no income and was unable to fulfil the court’s order for two years despite the official injunctions. He was due to appear in court again for failing to fulfil his obligations. But Malika asked advice from NGO Erayim’s regional advocate Gulnara TASHIEVA, who suggested the alternative path of mediation. It was in Alisher’s interest not to have to appear in court again. And to save his honour Alisher accepted the suggestion.

After constructive discussions Alisher agreed to pay the alimony and the arrears which had now risen to 620 euros. He found employment as a cow-herd in the area and worked there for a year. He earned the means to buy a cow from his employer which he intended to give to Malika in lieu of compensation for the missing alimony. The photo shows the moment when the cow was brought to the tribunal so that the value of the cow could be estimated. Although that amounted to only 427 euros Malika accepted this solution which the couple had reached through mediation. The court case was closed.

The cow being brought to the court for valuation

7The cultural landscape differs from what we are used to, but in all those cases the method resembles the one we practise. We can glean a few examples of this by looking at the posters exhibited in the class-room.





The photos speak to us.


The young trainee is showing posters about family mediation during the training, with the following statements:

  • Don’t use the conflict;
  • Don’t react to the conflict;
  • Promote good will;
  • (in red) Conflict generates conflict.

The road is a symbol of the mediation process.

The word ГНЕВ meaning ANGER appears on another poster as well as the “Mediator’s Three Golden Questions”



A group of women are seated in a horse-shoe shape and listen very attentively to what one of them is saying. (It is very cold in central Asia in February, even indoor!))

The mediation process.

The Basic course distinguishes two phases in the process of mediation: a preparatory phase which comprises the preliminary conversations and then the mediation meetings themselves.

According to the Kyrgyz legislation, the preliminary meetings are for giving and gathering information. Can the conflict potentially be resolved by mediation? Mediators meet the parties separately, diagnose the conflict with the help of Friedrich Glasl’s model of Conflict Escalation and an analysis of the positions, interests and needs according to Ury and Fischer’s reasoned negotiation model. Mediators assess whether the case lends itself to mediation. The two parties then decide whether they wish to continue with the mediation process.

If both parties agree then the mediation meeting can take place.

  • Introduction (Greetings, welcome, presentation of the process);
  • Seeking the interests and needs of both parties;
  • Seeking alternative solutions (Instruments: an ideal image; brainstorming; realism of the proposed solutions);
  • Preparation of a document of agreement; if all parties are satisfied they sign the agreement.


The participants showing their certificates. All ages are represented. In Kyrgyzstan women feel free to wear a scarf or not. The seated man is the director of the Osh’s branch of the National Mediation Centre, Avazbek Shamshievich SHAMSHIEV.

The functions and the activities of the two associations described below are complementary:

Information about the Community of Mediators of the Kyrgyz Republic

The Community of Mediators of the Kyrgyz Republic is a self-regulated professional organisation founded in 2018 on the basis of the Law of Mediators.

It accredits mediators and makes proposal for the improvement of mediation legislation and works with governmental organs to develop the institution of mediation.

Family, commercial and remedial mediation are developing in the Kyrgyz Republic.

To this day 220 people have received the accredited mediator’s certificate. Citizens can choose a mediator on the National Register which is available on www.mediator.kg with information in Kyrgyz and Russian language.

Information about the National Mediators’ Centre

The public Mediators’ National Association was founded in 2012 under the inspiration of the lawyer and trainer Gulsina KOZHOYAROVA.

The mission of the organisation is to develop mediation by offering support and training.

The Mediators’ National Association has a transparent management structure in the shape of a General Members’ Assembly, a Supervisory Body, a Director and an Evaluation Commission.

Branches in the whole country, with 45 collaborators, allow all citizens to have access to mediation.

This body has been created in collaboration with the courts, the local authorities and the police. Several information and training projects have been set up with their cooperation, so that more than 300 people have been trained in communication, conflict resolution and negotiation. Qualified judges and specialists from the local communities can advise citizens to attend information meetings with mediators.

More than 2000 people have taken part in those consultation and more than half have resolved their conflicts by mediation. More than 400 persons have been trained in the Basic course.

The current director is Anara KARIMBEKOVA.


This article was written by Claire Reeves-Bugnion, founder of the NGO “Erayim Aid Trust UK” (www.erayim-aid-trust.uk)

It was written on the basis of information provided by Gulsina KOZHOYAROVA, co-founder of the Mediators’ National Centre in Kyrgyzstan, by Mamatkazy KAPAROV, the lawyer of NGO Erayim and by Altynai SABYRBEKOVA, the economist responsible for the NGO Erayim’s micro-credit agency “Erayim Bereke”.

This article was first published in French in the November 2020 Letter of the Association Nationale des Médiateurs (ANM France). Always quote the source fully.



Check Youtube Videos



Share with friends

Weather in Bishkek

Weather forecast for Kyrgyzstan
logo BftW
australian aid blue and red
Erayim Aid Trust UK  ASA Desktop
logo GAMSUMO ru