• Positive steps for civil society and peace building

Positive steps for civil society and peace building

03 October 2013

On 26th September 2013 a conference was held in Kabul between the High Peace Council (tasked with engaging all relevant actors, including the Taliban, in the development of a national peace resolution) and a group of Afghan civil society organisations (CSOs).  This conference was an important development in over a year of discussions between the two groups, and resulted in the approval of a joint cooperation and coordination framework and declaration.  These documents, which outline the critical roles suggested for Afghan CSOs in the peace process, can be read in full in the Resources pages of our website.

The Framework suggests cooperation between the High Peace Council and CSOs in outreach, demobilisation and community rehabilitation. Activities proposed for Afghan CSOs in the peace process include coordinating community consultations to ensure an inclusive approach, training in mediation and non-violent resolution skills to key provincial stakeholders and mapping conflicts in communities to identify dividers and connectors.

This cooperation is noteworthy for a number of reasons.  It demonstrates the recognition and acceptance by the Government of Afghanistan of the essential role performed by civil society.  The willingness of the High Peace Council to cooperate with Afghan CSOs, and to delegate important responsibilities to them, bodes well.  The Council recognises the unique link provided by CSOs to the broader population – a link that both allows citizen’s opinions to be heard and government decisions to be explained.

The important work done by the CSO groups in the build up to this conference, and the responsibilities they could assume under the Framework, reflect the impressive growth in capacity and reach of Afghan CSOs in recent years.  That passionate and informed Afghans have been able to formally organise themselves, establish effective organisations and deliver impactful programmes is testament to their resourcefulness and abilities, whilst also reflecting the work of international CSOs in supporting their Afghan counterparts.

And one of the responsibilities assigned to CSOs in the Framework demonstrates an increased awareness at government and CSO level of accountability and evidence-based programming.  The research and monitoring suggestions signal a joint commitment to standards set and monitored, of accountability to their public and responses to their needs and grievances, and of an ongoing learning and programme refinement approach. 

This cooperation is a positive step, not only for the success of the Afghan peace building initiative but also for the strengthening of Afghan CSOs as they take on a greater role in determining a positive future for Afghanistan.