Community leaders take stock of peace-building efforts in the southern region

15 Jan 2019

Community leaders take stock of peace-building efforts in the southern region

KANDAHAR - A group of community leaders from Kandahar and neighbouring districts came together to take stock of and draw lessons from past and on-going peace initiatives in the southern region.

In 2018, hundreds of community leaders; civil society, ulema, youth and women organizations participated in several UN-backed events and initiatives on peace across the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul.

During a recent event held in Kandahar to kick off discussions on local peace initiatives for 2019, participants reflected on key lessons learnt from past and on-going peace-building efforts. 

“Community involvement is key,” said Haji Sadullah Khan, a community leader from Khakrez district. “Decisions should not be imposed on communities, and instead they should be involved, consulted, and their views included in any peace efforts,” advised Khan.

Participants said that the major causes of local conflict in the region are underdevelopment, poverty and lack of job opportunities.

“We have consensus on factors leading to conflict in our communities, and we should work to solve them,” said Haji Gul Mohammad Khan, one of the participants and community elder from Kandahar. He underscored the importance of economic development, social justice, inclusion and good governance in averting local conflict and violent extremism.

Kandahar and other southern provinces are among the most troubled and restive in Afghanistan. Bordering Iran and Pakistan, the province is populated mainly by rural communities that have been heavily impacted by a protracted conflict and high insurgency activities.

At the event’s conclusion, participants agreed that participation, inclusion and dialogue are practical steps towards peace, and expressed optimism on current national and international efforts calling for intra-Afghan dialogue.

UNAMA regional office in Kandahar supported the event as part of a series of local peace initiatives from 2018 which were broadcast by local media to an estimated audience of 1.5 million across the region.

In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.

UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.