Traditional Dispute Resolution and Stability in Afghanistan

TitleTraditional Dispute Resolution and Stability in Afghanistan
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleUSIP Peace Brief (February 2010)
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsDempsey, J, Coburn, N
Volume10 / 2010
Number of Pages6 pp.
PublisherUnited States Institute of Peace (USIP)
CityWashington D.C.
Accession Number1440

How Traditional Justice Can Help Stabilize Afghanistan
A new USIP Peace Brief argues that stability in Afghanistan requires not only an increased troop presence but also traditional justice to counter anti-government insurgents.Summary
- Stability in Afghanistan will remain elusive unless disputes between individuals and among communities can be resolved through peaceful and equitable means.
- However, state justice institutions are barely functioning in much of the country and are incapable of meeting many justice and dispute resolution needs of Afghans.
- Instead, the majority of Afghans turn to traditional justice mechanisms - including tribal councils and village and religious leaders - to address both civil and criminal disputes.
- In many parts of the country, including areas recently cleared of insurgents, the best way to make significant, visible, short-term (12 to 18 months) gains in peacefully resolving disputes is to work with community-based structures.
- USIP has drawn important lessons from its work with Afghan partners to implement pilot programs exploring links between the state and traditional justice systems in four provinces across the country (in Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia and Herat).
- Programs designed to create or strengthen existing links between traditional justice bodies and state institutions can build mutual trust and harness the strengths of each.
- Donor-funded traditional justice programs need to involve the Afghan government while also accounting for the practical needs of communities to settle disputes in line with their own traditions and procedures, as well as Afghanistan's laws and human rights norms.

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