Incremental Peace in Afghanistan
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How have local peacebuilding initiatives contributed to inclusive peace in Afghanistan?
Local peace councils have played essential roles in resolving disputes and supporting justice, working with traditional jirgas and shuras to fill gaps in the formal justice architecture. Religious actors’ influence also has a key function to mediate local conflicts. Neither of these institutions should be idealised and both bring challenges, such as relating to representation, gender, conservatism and clientalism. But linking up with NGOs in joint peace initiatives has brought mutual benefits, for example in enhancing women’s involvement, and has helped to multiply gains in preventing local violence.
A question remains over the implications for peace beyond the local level. Community-based mechanisms used effectively can help link local agency to formal peace structures and processes – for example local peace councils sharing conflict analysis and mitigation planning with provincial and high peace councils. As well as providing a significant practical resource, such initiatives would also help to ground the national peace architecture, which at present is widely perceived as remote and ineffective.