Participants at UN-backed event strategize on peace in Afghanistan’s north
MAZAR-E-SHARIF - Communities across Afghanistan must find ways to live in peace with each other, said participants at a UN-backed debate in the northern province of Balkh last week.
Some 30 representatives from Balkh’s Provincial Council, Peace Committee and civil society attended the event, which was backed by the Mazar regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to create a forum where Afghan community leaders could strategize about mediating local conflicts in the interest of promoting peace and stability across Balkh and the broader country.
In opening remarks, Peace Council Chair Baz Mohammad Gharibyar noted that Balkh has been resolving disputes through Council intervention. “We’ve solved more than 150 major disputes in Balkh since the establishment of Provincial Peace Council in 2011,” he said. “Almost all of them were solved in a traditional way through local Jirgas with representatives of the conflicting parties.”
Mr Gharibyar went on to highlight the specific strategies used to resolve disputes over land, irrigation and other resources, and stressed that in dealing with the issues, the principles of rule of law must not be compromised.
In the ensuing lively discussion, meeting participants discussed plans to revive their approach to rural disputes in the interest of building peace at the local level, and agreed on an action plan for mediation across the province. They also agreed to UNAMA’s proposal to establish a UN-supported working group consisting of representatives from government and civil society to harmonize efforts in managing conflict.
Balkh is located in Afghanistan’s northern region, with a population estimated at more than one million. Mazar-e-Sharif, which has an international airport, is the province’s capital. Balkh, a mostly rural province, shares international borders with Uzbekistan to the north and Tajikistan to the northeast.
The peace symposium was recorded by local media outlets, and later broadcast by radio and television to an audience estimated at 300,000 in and around Mazar.
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.