Central Asia

Archive Profile

2014 Country/Region Profile:

During 2013, Central Asia continued to face both internal and external challenges to stability. Trans-boundary threats, regional instability, inter-ethnic tensions, poor management of water and energy resources and environmental degradation continue to be important factors that threaten the fragility in the region. The planned withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) during the course of 2014 was also a major development as the mission began withdrawing its forces, thereby, increasing the threat of security challenges. 

Inter-ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010 resulted in the deaths of over 400 people.  While reconciliation efforts in affected areas are being carried out by international and regional organization, tensions among ethnic groups continue to remain high with low intensity clashes occurring often.

The lack of demarcated state borders between neighboring countries in the region is also a cause for high tensions and strained relations. Border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, occurred several times during 2013 and 2014.

The tensions in the region are exacerbated by disputes over shared water resources. The region suffers from water shortages and competing water and energy needs especially among the three riparian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.


Established in December 2007 as a special political mission, the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) is based in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The mission aims to assist the region in building conflict-prevention capacities by working with the governments of the region and other parties on issues relevant to preventive diplomacy. It works towards maintaining relationships with regional organizations and encouraging their peace-making efforts, and providing a political Read More...

Key developments

Violent confrontation between Kyrgyz citizens and residents of Uzbekistan’s largest exclave, Sokh, in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken province in Ferghana Valley in January 2013 resulted in several wounded Kyrgyz policemen and Sokh residents. Relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan were strained as latter blamed Kyrgyz border officials for provoking violence. While Kyrgyzstan experienced protests demanding nationalization of mines during most of the year, Tajikistan held presidential electi Read More...


The presence of UN, EU, and OSCE in the region is instrumental in fostering positive interaction and promoting dialogue among the countries on issues such as drug, trafficking, illegal immigration, resource management, and violent extremism. The missions are important tools for preventive diplomacy as they continue to assist in peaceful settlement of disputes and foster regional cooperation. Beginning 2015, UNRCCA will be working with a new program of action for 2015-17. They will continue to pl Read More...

Central Asian states faced both domestic and regional challenges to security and stability in 2012. Authorities in the five Central Asian countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan— lack effective governance capacities. Corruption is widespread, the development of civil society is suppressed, and economic opportunities are rare. Violent responses to recent protests in some Central Asian countries and violent clashes in Tajikistan in 2012 underline the lack of capacity to manage internal conflict.

On a broader regional level fragility is exacerbated by a political environment of rivalry and mistrust among the five countries. Regional stability is further challenged through competition over water and energy issues as well as transnational threats such as terrorism and organized crime, compounded by the precarious security situation in Afghanistan. All of these regional challenges threaten to worsen as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan scales down its presence in advance of its withdrawal in 2014.

In recent years the five Central Asian states have shown limited readiness to develop joint approaches to tackle the challenges facing the region, despite persistent apprehensions and ongoing rivalries. To this end, the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the European Union Special Representative (EUSR) have striven to assist the various countries in developing joint solutions to their


UNRCCA was established in December 2007 at the decision of the governments of the five Central Asian states to address regional security threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, and environmental degradation. Headquartered in Ashgabat, Turkmeni stan, UNRCCA also maintains offices in each country’s capital in the region. The mission supports the five Central Asian governments in building their conflict prevention capacities through dialogue, confidence-building measures, an Read More...

Key developments

Violent clashes erupted in Tajikistan’s auton o mous region of Gorno-Badakhshan on 24 July 2012 when local opposition strongman Tolib Ayombekov refused to support government investigations into the murder of a Tajik security services general. The Tajik government responded by launching a military operation in the region. Fighting between government forces and Ayombekov’s armed followers ended the same day, but only after dozens of people were killed. The government and opposition forces bega Read More...


The common frameworks on regional cooperation regarding transboundary threats and the management of common natural resources— especially water—reflect an important foundation of coordination across multilateral missions, organizations, and UN agencies in Central Asia. Although outcomes reached thus far within these frameworks tend to be rather broad commitments on cooperation, the participation of representatives of Central Asia’s authorities through these mechanisms can be seen as a succe Read More...