Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan is transforming to the Central Asian analytical center CAPS Unlock

The organization plans to bring together researchers from the region to develop solutions to the problems of Central Asian countries.

After 28 years of work, the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan (SFK) is transforming into the CAPS Unlock (Central Asian Policy Studies) expert and analytical hub, designed to develop the best approaches to solving the problems of the region.

CAPS Unlock will conduct applied research and organize discussions on a wide range of issues, including socio-economic inequalities, challenges in digital democracy, education, climate change, and the geopolitical and geo-economic positioning of Central Asia. It will focus on identity, historical memory, and the lingering effects of the region’s colonial past issues. The Center intends to study and pay attention to technological trends and predict their impact on the most crucial areas.

The thematic research areas of the Center will be related to the development of an open society in the region.

CAPS Unlock sees its mission as supporting the formation of an open society in Central Asia through dialogue platform development, conducting high-quality research and developing recommendations, and strengthening the expert community in the region.

The regional think tank establishment is part of a global transformation of the Open Society Foundations network. Applied research and recommendations are designed to find the best practical solutions to the problems of the crisis and post-crisis period. The global crisis caused by the influence of the pandemic, war, and other factors will inevitably affect the standard of living of the population and, above all, the vulnerable. CAPS Unlock recommendations will account for the rights and interests of these segments of society.

The Center is ready to cooperate with international institutions, including the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

CAPS Unlock will form partnerships within the region and with leading think tanks in Europe, North America, and Asia.

The Board of Trustees of the organization includes authoritative experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan:

  • Gulnora Beknazarova, sociologist, Candidate of Philosophical Sciences, director of Zerkalo NGO, Tajikistan.
  • Zhuldyz Smagulova, Ph.D., candidate of Philological Sciences, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Humanities at KIMEP University, Kazakhstan;
  • Medet Tiulegenov, political scientist, senior researcher at the Civil Society Initiatives, University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan;
  • Yuliy Yusupov, economist, director of the Center for Economic Development, Uzbekistan.

Aida Aidarkulova, CAPS Unlock Executive Director:

  • As you know, all the countries of Central Asia are landlocked, but we would like researchers from our region to have access to progressive world thought, debate, and expert exchange. To this end, we will promote independent research on issues of concern to the region, bring together scientists and practitioners from our countries with their colleagues from other parts of the world, and organize expert discussions in online and offline formats.

Nargis Kassenova, co-founder of CAPS Unlock, international political scientist, Director of the Central Asian Studies Program at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University::

  • We want CAPS Unlock to become the leading Central Asian expert hub and space for the exchange of knowledge and ideas in the collective search for solutions to pressing problems. We aim to create a conceptually new analytical center in our region, open to dialogue, new ideas, and formats, and skillfully and effectively combining local and global expertise.

Medet Tiulegenov :

  • In our time of uncertainty and global challenges, the trend towards informed quality decision-making at all levels should be applied everywhere. The identifying of options for political and managerial decisions, and their discussion and promotion is of great importance for the entire region. In this sense, CAPS Unlock has its unique mission and niche.

For 28 years, Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan has allocated more than 100 million US dollars in grants to healthcare, education and science, protection of human rights, transparency and accountability of public finances, protection of the interests of vulnerable groups among the population, support for the media, and economic reforms. Details are available on the SFK website and in the “Facts about the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan” document.


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