The outbreak of the crisis in Chechnya during the late summer of 1999 is highly reminiscent of the previous conflict in the republic between 1994-96. The situation in Chechnya is above all a humanitarian disaster, representing the greatest incidence of suffering among the civilian population in the OSCE region since the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. On another level it is a case study for the principle of self-determination, which lies at the heart of the cause of the conflict and will inevitably play a role in its resolution.
The colloquium took place at a time when it was clear that the prospects for a political solution to the conflict were very limited. A major prerequisite for such a political solution - the necessary political will of both parties - was not present at the time of the colloquium. Much to the regret of the conference organizers, the Russian side declined to send representatives and hence several of the states in the region chose not to participate as well.