Leaders in Afghanistan’s south call for action following nationwide dialogue on peace
KANDAHAR - After nation-wide consultations on peace among ordinary Afghans from across the country, all documented in a new book, community leaders in Helmand and Nimroz gathered at UN-backed events to discuss possible next steps toward building a more stable and prosperous country.
The recently published book, titled “34 Roadmaps of the Afghan People’s Dialogue,” is a distillation of the consultations involving more than 6,000 people – a third of whom were women. It details Afghan views on peace, reconciliation, human rights, gender equality and economic development.
During the events in the provincial capitals of Lashkar Gah and Zaranj, participants discussed plans for implementing the recommendations made in the book.
The book details Afghan views about the drivers of conflict in Helmand and Nimroz, including corruption in the judicial system, the activities of illegal armed groups, disputes over land, widespread illiteracy and the absence of a formal peace and reintegration process.
Participants at the two events identified and agreed on the key first steps toward building peace and stability in the southern provinces: implementation of rule of law, addressing fraud and corruption, eliminating the illicit drug trade, protecting human rights and taking measures against the ongoing drought.
Helmand and Nimroz are located in Afghanistan’s southern region, which borders Iran and Pakistan, and is populated mainly by rural communities that rely on agriculture and animal husbandry as their primary source of income.
The book, “34 Roadmaps of the Afghan People’s Dialogue,” was produced by a steering committee of 11 civil society groups along and the High Peace Council, with the support of UNAMA’s Human Rights team.
In May, at the book’s launch in Kabul, Fahim Hakim, a steering committee member and adviser to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said that the book should serve as a benchmark for future peace planning and for policymakers.
“People from all walks of life participated in these dialogues, including teachers, farmers, religious leaders, commanders and youth,” said Hakim.
Speaking at the book’s launch event in Kabul, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said that the book conveys “a strong consensus” among people on the need for a political solution to ending the conflict and the critical role that civil society should play in peace mediation and reconciliation.
The events in Nimroz and Helmand were organized by UNAMA’s Kandahar regional office. Similar events are scheduled to take place across the country as part of a countrywide outreach programme to create platforms – using radio, television, and social media – for Afghans to engage in dialogue and discuss critical issues affecting their communities.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent national and international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.
UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.