Community Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: the case for a national strategy
(February 28, 2008) An Oxfam International report released today shows that local disputes over water, land and other resources are a frequent cause of violence in Afghanistan, and are often exploited by anti-government groups.
Oxfam's reort calls on the international community to strengthen communities' capacity to resolve disputes and build a lasting peace.
Most efforts to build peace have been at a national level, where they have been stymied by warlords, corruption or criminality. The recent deterioration in security, particularly in the south and southeast, is evidence that top down approaches are by themselves inadequate without parallel nationwide, peace-work at ground level, Oxfam maintains.
For the vast majority of disputes, Afghans turn to local institutions to resolve them, the report says. Yet little has been to done to enhance communities' capabilities to resolve problems peacefully, reduce violence and resist militant interference.
Key elements of a national community peacebuilding strategy could include:
phased capacity building throughout the country;
peace-building taught in all schools and incorporated into teacher training;
awareness raising initiatives, at national and local levels;
mechanisms to monitor shuras' adherence to the Constitution and human rights;
measures to clarify the role of informal justice and the courts.