Kaelyn Lowmaster is a current Five-Semester Option student concentrating in both China Studies and Conflict Management. Read about her experience on the annual Conflict Management field research trip:
|Kaelyn in Baku|
One of the great perks of the Conflict Management program is the annual field research trip. Each year, a few students have the opportunity to study regions experiencing active conflict firsthand over winter break. We meet people at all levels, from high-level officials to students, affected by protracted disputes. This year, fifteen of my classmates and I headed to the Caucasus to research the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh (NK). A semester’s worth of briefings at SAIS had taught me the basics: NK was a majority ethnic Armenian enclave within the Azerbaijani SSR, when in 1988 it petitioned to be moved to the jurisdiction of the Armenian SSR. Tensions escalated into bloody pogroms, and eventually to all-out war after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The conflict has been 'frozen' since a cease-fire in 1994 – Armenia had won the war, but there continue to be a few dozen deaths a year along the line of contact. No one quite knows what might happen if widespread hostilities broke out once again, but there’s not much optimism about the current course of negotiations, either.
Each of us had picked a particular aspect of the conflict to study, and I decided that I’d look at the mediation process. Before landing in Baku, I’d read all the diplomatic jargon of the stalemate in the latest press releases (for a frustrating read, you can find them all here), and had thought I was ready to present a fresh perspective on how to move negotiations forward.
|Old City Baku with the newly-constructed flame towers|
|The view into Nagorno-Karabakh from the Armenian side|
|Iconic statue of a Karabakhi man and woman|