Spring 2016

03 May 2016
The Conflict of Nagorno Karabakh: Towards Independence
Aleksandr Grigoryan, MBA Program Chair, Ph.D, AUA

Observing the current disequilibrium state, there is no pure strategy equilibrium in solving the game for mixed strategies. During the seminar, Dr. Grigoryan will discuss how Armenia can control the probability of restarting war by Azerbaijan through properly choosing policy components of the payoffs, in addition to how Armenia should be more active in lobbying recognition of Nagorno Karabakh’s independence, as it makes the probability of military clash smaller, persuading that such an option will be too costly for Azerbaijan.

12 April 2016
Nagorno-Karabakh and Kosovo Conflicts: Similarities in International Law and Differences in Realpolitik
Arevik Anapiosyan, AUA PSIA Alumnus, Ph.D, Yerevan State University

There are a number of reasons why the international community perceives Nagorno-Karabakh and Kosovo conflicts differently. From international legal perspective both cases refer to de facto states seeking or having sought international recognition. The analysis of de facto states usually starts with the discussion on the criteria of statehood, including the evolution of those criteria since the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States. Still, understanding whether an entity is a state is crucial for promoting the case for international recognition. While recognition implies fulfillment of certain international legal criteria, it is a political decision. Hence, if legally speaking, the conflicts under discussion share a similar legal framework, the political context of the two conflicts varies considerably. The foreign policy, security and strategic interests of the countries involved in these conflicts locally, regionally or internationally determine the international political framework for the conflict resolution. Consequently, the peaceful resolution of these conflicts hinges on the interests and the willingness of the external actors related to the conflicts.

 29 March 2016
Civic Activism, Political Activism and Social Media in Armenia: Who is Active and Are They Online?
Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan, Assistant Professor, Ph.D, PSIA Program, AUA

Civic activism in Armenia is becoming more and more visible, but does it signal a change in political culture from passive and distrustful to more participatory? More and more people “get online,” but is internet a good tool for mobilizing potential activists? The talk will explore these questions through public opinion survey data, drawing on four data sets from 1997 to 2013. It will examine social and political participation (both actual and potential) among the Armenian population, and use of social media by various groups. The analysis presented is part of a larger ongoing research project on civic activism in Armenia.

16 February 2016
Introduction of Internet Voting in Armenia: A Solution or a Problem?
Hamazasp Danielyan, Assistant Professor, Yerevan State University, PhD in Political Science 

The upcoming electoral reforms seem to largely rely on the utilization of electronic means. Despite that the draft text has not been publicized yet, authors assume that the introduction of certain electronic component in the voting system of Armenia will solve most of the existing problems and guarantee free and fair elections. However, as both international and Armenian experiences have proved, electronic voting cannot be considered as a panacea, and can solve very specific issues at best. Most of the time introduction of a certain type of electronic component in the voting system brings new problems and difficulties, as has been the case with the introduction of internet voting in Armenia after 2011. This seminar will present the results of a research evaluating the existing internet voting regulation and implementation in Armenia, specifically concentrating on the three main aspects, including presentation of the problem which internet voting has been introduced to solve, namely to enable certain type of voters to cast their ballot while residing abroad; description of main features of adopted internet voting system and their shortcomings; and the impact of this innovation on the voting behavior and practices. The research is based on the analysis of legal regulations, and interviews with individuals who had the right to participate in the internet voting.

02 February 2016
Homeland and Diaspora: Connection through Spaces
Vahagn Vardanyan, Head of High School, IB Diploma Programme Coordinator (Hillside World Academy, Singapore). AUA Alumnus 

The talk will focus on the ‘diaspora return’ as the core of homeland’s inclusionary approach toward its diaspora, within the theoretical framework of key geographic concepts of ‘space’ and ‘place’. Definitions of ‘diaspora’ differ. However, one commonly accepted feature of the concept is that diaspora assumes return and return is permanent, even if it is virtual or metaphorical. This, probably, is the main aspect that distinguishes diasporans from migrants who carry ethnic heritage, without maintaining connections to the homeland. Diasporans maintain links to the homeland on a permanent basis, aimed at preserving the national identity and preventing assimilation. Diasporas, being physically in the host country, at the same time, maintain loyalty to the homeland, and loyalty to the non-territorial transnation prevails. Many nation-states, which have a diaspora abroad, are applying an inclusionary approach toward the latter, aimed at strengthening the power of the state and strengthening and promoting the national identity. The relationship between diaspora and the homeland is changing over time as a result of various processes and transformations, in particular, political, such as achieving political independence and establishment of a sovereign nation-state. With space interpreted in a different form, space as place is seen vital in homeland-diaspora relations. Place-centrism is emphasized as an essential condition for transforming the homeland into a specific place of return.

FALL 2015

11 November 2015
A Tale of Two Movements: Social Movement Mobilization in Southern Russia
Karena Avedissian, PhD in Contemporary Russian Studies from Birmingham University and Fellow at the University of Southern California 

This seminar will explore two interrelated phenomena. First, do social movement dynamics operate the same way in non-democratic contexts as in democratic contexts? Second, can the same methods developed in Western liberal democracies for studying social movements be applied to non-democratic settings? This talk focuses on southern Russia for a number of reasons. Putin’s tenure as president and premier from 1999 to the present has resulted in reassertion of government control on domestic mass media, the crackdown on dissenting elite, and repression of political opposition and independent civil society. These changes create an environment for social movements characterised by higher degrees of state coercion and more scarce opportunities for social movements to engage in open communication with constituencies. Another reason is that post-Soviet social movements have remained heavily understudied in the West. It focuses on the environmental movement in Krasnodar Krai and the ethno-national Balkar movement in Kabardino-Balkaria for the period between 2000 to the present.

28 October 2015
Government Failure, Atrocity Crimes and the Role of the International Criminal Court: Why Not Syria, But Libya?
Hovhannes Nikoghosyan, Adjunct Lecturer, PSIA Program, AUA

The Chapter VII resolutions on Libya by the United Nations Security Council (2011) and the UNSC-approved French-led intervention in Mali (2013) and the absence of a consensus on Syria ever since the popular uprising have reminded us of the ‘why-not-Rwanda-but-Kosovo’ type of a challenge used to identify the objective determinants for the trans-boundary use of force to stop mass atrocity crimes. The author adopts a legalistic approach in finding ways to pursue consensus on Responsibility to Protect Pillar Three operations; and through the available state practice and body of international law in general,  illustrates the normative progress to argue that a sound foundation has emerged to suggest that genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansings are of erga omnes character wherever they happen; whereas the International Criminal Court has been emerging as a capable and legitimate institution for bringing the most odious perpetrators to justice and providing legal background for the use of force against ‘manifestly failed’ governments.

21 October 2015
Capital in the 21st Century and Its Impact upon Governance
Donald Fuller, Senior Professor, PSIA Program, AUA

The talk addresses the social, economic and political implications that will largely concern governance in the near and intermediate future based on the Thomas Piketty’s path-breaking book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. The author of the book argues that over time, economic inequality exists since wealth exceeds the output of production, and the wealth is unevenly distributed in society throughout the world. The talk addresses the issues of inequality, struggles against supply and demand and the solution proposed by the author of the book. It also addresses the possible impact of Piketty’s hypothesis on governance, with a particular focus on examining the probable governing policies likely to be adopted in view of declining growth rates in most societies.

14 October 2015
Armenians and Jews: A Comparative Analysis of Diaspora-State relations
Vardan Marashlyan,  Co-founder and executive director of RepatArmenia Foundation

This seminar aims to explore the development and current state of affairs in Jewish and Armenian State-Diaspora relations and its implications on nation-state development. There are many similarities and differences when we talk about these Diasporas as well as their relations to nation-state and engagement in their respective nation building process. What are the key achievements and challenges that both nations are facing? What’s the role of the Diaspora in State-Diaspora relations particularly in tackling those issues? Why is it important to develop effective State-Diaspora relations and what are the key obstacles in doing that? The lecture is aimed at providing an analysis based on the lecturer’s experience in co-founding and managing an Armenian NGO, focused on brain-gain repatriation (RepatArmenia Foundation) as well as working at the Ministry of Diaspora and participating in a number of conferences in Yerevan and Budapest, dedicated to State-Diaspora relations.

09 September 2015
Police Reforms in Armenia
Nona Shahnazaryan, Research fellow at the Natonal Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology

The talk addresses current police reforms in the Republic of Armenia. It is based on research, analyzing these reforms’ origins, assessing their successes and failures, and comparing them with similar reforms in Georgia. Police reforms in Armenia, as in other post-Soviet states, have been highly state- dominated though not completely insulated from civil society. Although reforms have reduced some forms of graft, improved the technical capacity of the police, and reduced “red tape,” there has been less progress toward improving police accountability to citizens. Also, in contrast to Georgia’s police reform efforts, Armenia’s reforms have relied far less on personnel changes such as the dismissal and replacement of corrupt police officers.