PRWB, with the support from OSCE office in Yerevan, carried out a mapping of the organizations concerned with the problems of the RA armed forces and the resources necessary for their functioning for the period August- November 2011 through February – May 2012.
The problems and risks related to the armed forces, including human rights violations are largely conditioned by the particularities of the army as a seperate and independent institute.
On the one hand, restriction of the servicemen’s activities and strict control over them by subordination system, strong contrast between military and civilian life, deficient system of sanctions and incentives, limitatations of the rights to private life and free movement contribute to such problems and violations; on the other hand, there are several factors impeding the imlementation of effective measures to prevent the occurrence of these problems. One of the primary factors is the lack of information. Because of strict military control, servicemen avoid speaking about the problems in the military. Although periodical visits are made to military units by various observer teams to study the basic problems in the military, such visits are not sufficient to collect exhaustive information on all the possible violations of servicemen’s rights.
Another priority issue is connected with the necessity to develop measures for ensuring lasting human rights protection in Armenia, since a temporary and situational protection cannot lead to sustainable results. Continuous and coordinated efforts should be put to achieve tangible results in human rights protection. In this regard, it is essential that the main actors of the field cooperate with each other and coordinate their activities. The effectiveness of a project largely depends on the level of the project team’s knowledge of the relevant field. In order to ensure productive cooperation and enhance the effectiveness of the taken measures, the Project carried out a mapping of organizations concerned with military issues and resources necessary for their functioning.
The Project consisted of two stages. The first stage lasted from August to November 2011 and strived to achieve the following results:
1. Analyze and classify formal and informal mechanisms of democratic, civilian and public oversight over the armed forces.
2. Compile a list of significant publications on the major problems of the armed forces.
3. Carry out a mapping of the most important internet sources.
4. Compile a list of documents concerning the armed forces, namely documents relating to national legislation, international treaties, case laws, government decisions and programs, as well as other necessary documents.
5. Carry out a theoretical analysis of institutional needs and obstacles to the functioning of the main actor’s of the field.
6. Analyze and illustrate by examples the international practice of dealing with military issues.
The first stage of the project was important in the sense that it provided a theoretical basis for analyzing the military problems and served as a preparatory stage for a research. At the end of the first stage, all the basic issues and limitations in the armed forces had been outlined. The research conducted at the second stage of the project aimed at testing separate hypothesis and supplying the database with new information.
The targeted outcomes of the II stage included the following:
1. Brief description of institutions and networks concerned with the problems of the armed forces in terms of their targets and areas of activities.
2. Summarization of the achievements and outcomes of the project.
3. Summarization of the main factors impeding the activities of the actors of the field, including legal and legislative and professional issues, as well as issues connected with infrastructures, human resources and lack of resources.
4. Assessment of institutional and professional needs of the main actors of the field.
5. Identification of risk areas for repeated violations in the military.
6. Summarization of the project findings in an electronic handbook to help the relevant specialists and institutions develop effective methodologies.
The research was conducted through quantitative and qualitative analysis. It served as a main tool for achieving the below-given objectives of the project:
1. Expert survey involving both state employees and social workers.
2. Creating target groups and conducting private interviews with specialists in the relevant field.
3. Document analysis:
Analysis of documents concerning the armed forces, such as legislative documents, reform strategies, reports, scientific studies, press publications, internet articles and official statistics.
Within the framework of the mapping, PRWB has studied a number of areas in the RA Armed Forces and sketched a brief picture of their current situation. In general, any problem relating to the armed forces of the RA was subjected to detailed examination in this or that context.
Through conducting an analysis of legislation in respect to the armed forces, it became possible to address a number of military issues in the following areas:
1. Legal basis of the armed forces
2. Conscription procedure
3. Responsible authorities for the conscription into compulsory military service and their functions
4. Procedure of medical examination of the conscripts
5. Grounds of exemption from conscription
6. Rights, obligations and liabilities of the servicemen in military service
7. Social work in the armed forces
Special attention was paid to the practice of civilian oversight over the armed forces. In the course of the research, the team implemented a mapping of the organizations carrying out civilian oversight and made a brief summary of their powers, activities, as well as suggested resources necessary for effective civilian oversight. The competence and functions of state authorities, as well as democratic mechanisms of civilian oversight have been analyzed as well. The handbook also provides a brief summary on a number of major issues, such as the RA legislation on the process of conscription into compulsory military unit, competences of conscription commission and rights and obligations of the conscripts. The experts studied various materials, such as periodicals and reports on the armed forces and used them to find effective solutions for the identified problems.
During interviews, the experts focused on a number of crucial problems, such as the deterioration of military discipline, intolerance and violence among soldiers, impunity of soldiers (specialists explained this by the great number of servicemen (30-40) living in the same barrack), insufficient measures for ensuring mental and physical health of the servicemen, as well as unlawful conscription of young people unfit for military service. ”Mapping of the Organizations Concerned with the Problems of the RA Military Forces and the Resources Necessary for their Functioning ” will enable you to get better insight into the above-stated issues.