European NGO Coalition Initiated: Joined Effort to Contribute to Conflict Resolution in Donbas – Declaration Handed Over at OSCE Meeting in Hamburg

The peace talks regarding the conflict in Eastern Ukraine have been deadlocked for months, while the interpretation and the implementation of the Minsk agreements remain a point of contestation. Against this background NGOs from Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland – among them the DRA as one of the initiators - have recently established the open and interdisciplinary platform „CivilMPlus“ through which they intend to contribute to a conflict resolution in the Donbas region. All NGOs involved have working experience in or with regard to the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine. Following an invitation by the DRA, they met November 7-9, 2016 in Berlin to discuss the aims and tasks of the coalition.

The participation of civil society organisations in the peace process opens up possibilities to make use of their knowledge in crucial fields such as human rights, humanitarian help, peace work and dialogue, and has the potential to inspire politics and diplomacy in their efforts to improve the situation on-site and to implement the Minsk agreements. The name “CivilMPlus” is to express that the coalition will bring together such diverse working spheres as the monitoring of the international peace talks on the Minsk agreements and of the human rights situation in Donbas, mediation and work on historical memory.

A first milestone in the work of the coalition is the joined declaration “Cessation of the Armed Conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the Effective Overcoming of its Legacies“ (full text here; Russian translation here), addressed to Austria (holding the OSCE chair in 2017) and to all other OSCE member states. It was given, among others, to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and to the Secretary-General of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Michael Linhart, on 7 December at the traditional Parallel Civil Society Conference to the OSCE Ministerial Council. The DRA was represented at the conference by Martina Steis, Yulia Erner, Tim Bohse and Stefan Melle and had helped to prepare the panel on the Donbas conflict.

NGOs with working experience in the Donbas region and/or in the field of conflict resolution and interested in participating in the work of the coalition are very welcome to join. For further information (in German) see HERE.

The NGO forum in Berlin has been financially supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Marion-Doenhoff Foundation.

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