Immediately after the fall of the USSR, the ethnic divides within the new republic of Azerbaijan became apparent. The Nagorno-Karabakh region of the country is mainly populated by Armenians, and declared itself independent with the support of Armenia soon after the establishment of Azerbaijan. The separatists maintain de-facto control of nearly 16 percent of Azerbaijan. During the war, which lasted from 1988 to 1994, the Republic of Armenia supported the Armenian separatist movement of Karabakh, and fought directly with Azerbaijani forces.
Despite a 1994 cease fire, the peace process is by no means complete. To this day deadly skirmishes plague the border of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and the rhetoric of all parties involved is becoming increasingly aggressive. This posses a dire threat to peace in the region, and would constitute a major setback in the reconciliation process of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In September 2004, Karuna Center led workshops on conflict management both for the staff of Catholic Relief Services in Azerbaijan and for their NGO partners, who came from Baku as well as outlying regions and whose missions varied from human rights education to agricultural development. The workshops offered a general introduction to conflict analysis and intervention, and focused on the management of both community-based and organizational conflicts.
In December 1999, Karuna Center led a training for student leaders focusing on transforming conflict and building peace. Following a brief introduction of some key concepts of conflict transformation, students had the opportunity to practice and role-play conflict interventions such as negotiation and mediation. The workshop engaged students in a variety of learning activities, group work, reflections, and discussions.