UN-backed ‘local peace initiative’ culminates in pact to end longstanding land dispute in Kunar

10 Jul 2019

UN-backed ‘local peace initiative’ culminates in pact to end longstanding land dispute in Kunar

ASADABAD – A UN-backed ‘local peace initiative’ has helped two tribes reach agreement on ending a 40-year conflict over land in the eastern province of Kunar.

For almost four decades, the Salarzi and Mamund tribes have feuded over a piece of land in the Lahor Dack area of the Marawara District of Kunar.  The conflict has been a source of tension and violence, and has affected the lives of hundreds of people by disrupting social, economic and other activities.

"The conflict often erupts and heightens during the cultivation period," said Haji Shirzaman, a community elder from the Mamund tribe, adding that past efforts to bring peace to the two tribes have been short-lived and mostly unsuccessful.

UNAMA's regional office in Jalalabad, as part of its Local Peace Initiative programme helped facilitate a peaceful resolution to the Salarzi-Mamund dispute through collaboration with multiple partners, including tribal and community leaders, women, prominent religious leaders and peace activists in coordination with Kunar’s provincial government, including its Tribal Affairs Department.

After several weeks of UNAMA-arranged meetings, the two tribes agreed to a two-day Jirga, a traditional form of conflict resolution used across Afghanistan to resolve disputes. The Jirga, held in Asadabad, Kunar’s capital, was attended by the Kunar Province and Marawara District governors, led by tribal elders from Marawara district with the support of provincial department of tribal affairs and brought together more than 70 participants, including 15 women.

"We made tireless efforts for more than one year to hold the Jirga," said Farid Hisam, head of Kunar’s Tribal Affairs Department, "because peace and unity are what will help bring development."

Over the course of the Jirga, participants highlighted the negative impact of the feud, such as children being prevented from going to school or relatives visiting their families, as well as contributing to general destabilization and underdevelopment of the district.

Women representatives from both tribes played critical roles as organizers and participants, holding a separate discussion during the Jirga, with the inputs subsequently covered in the final agreement.

The Jirga culminated in a jointly-written peace resolution, a comprehensive pact on how to end the dispute with representatives of both tribes announcing that they would work with their communities to implement the decisions.

"We are happy, and we are lucky that we succeeded in this Jirga," commented Halim Gul, a community elder after the unanimous adoption of the "no revenge" resolution.

UNAMA supports Afghan-led and Afghan-owned local peace initiatives and mechanisms, and the role of women's participation in such processes as anticipated in UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other vital services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.