Friday, 11 June 2010

How to build peace and reconciliation

Plans for reintegrating Taliban fighters must address the concerns of Afghan women

The Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia has published the first in a new series of papers called Afghan Voices.
Will the Afghan Government's reintegration and reconciliation efforts bring peace to Afghanistan? is written by Wazhma Frogh, a postgraduate Chevening Scholar studying International Development Law and Human Rights at Warwick University.
Frogh's paper looks at the background to reintegration programmes in Afghanistan, noting that previous efforts, such as the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Plan and the Afghanistan National Independent Peace and Reconciliation Commission, failed because they were not directed at the Taliban or they had insufficient authority.
At the Peace Jirga recently concluded in Kabul it seems that everyone was clear on the meaning of reintegration, but that reconciliation is a more difficult concept. Frogh says it has been defined as a dialogue with at least certain elements of the Taliban. However, this was not clarified at the Jirga - which instead asked the government to develop its own framework on both reintegration and reconciliation.
Two concrete proposals emerged: the removal of militants' names from blacklists and the prompt release of Taliban militants from Afghan and ISAF prisons.
Frogh says that to succeed the government's plans must address four key issues: first, the ongoing instability in the country, not all of which is due to the Taliban insurgency, but is also connected to the failure to reward loyal supporters of the regime and also the failure to offer anything to the huge numbers of young people in the country, where around 60 per cent are under 25 years old.
Second,the need to clarify the elements of any potential reconciliation programme. If it is based on financial incentives, what happens when the money stops? She also asks if reintegration can really happen before reconciliation.
Third, Frogh says the plans must address the concerns of Afghan women, many of whom fear that their minimal gains since the overthrow of the Taliban will be reversed. She points out that only one of the 28 committees formed at the Peace Jirga was chaired by a woman. In three days no plenary opportunity was offered to any woman to express their worries.
Finally, the plans should also provide incentives for Taliban leaders to join the process.
In summary, Frogh says: "What is required is a comprehensive approach that includes a genuinely national consultative and consensusbuilding process and efforts to address both broader governance failures and other threats to Afghan stability and security (not just the Taliban insurgency). A comprehensive approach needs to address past injustices inflicted on all Afghans if enduring peace and stability is to be achieved." She says justice was a casualty of the Peace Jirga: "There was no mention of the war crimes during the civil war, nor the injustices and violence inflicted on the Afghan nation in the past nine years."

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