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  • Author: Mallory Sutika Sipus
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: One of the contributing factors to Afghanistan’s civil conflict has been the fluidity within military alliances at the sub-national level. This brief examines the circumstances of military alliances between insurgent commanders—what factors play into an alliance and how they are maintained, with assessments resulting from research from the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies and supported by USIP.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Peyton Cooke, Eliza Urwin
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Long-standing social and political grievances, combined with an unresponsive, factionalized government and abusive militias, facilitated the Taliban’s capture of Kunduz in September 2015. The fall of Kunduz raised questions regarding future political and security implications across the northeast region of Afghanistan. This Peace Brief highlights findings from interviews with a range of actors comparing what the government’s political and security response should look like and what it’s expected to look like, as well as offering recommendations for government and civil society.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, War, Governance, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Scott S. Smith
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's democratic development has taken place within the tight embrace of international support and the conception of "free and fair" elections that comes with it, but Afghan and inter-national views on what to expect from elections have diverged in the past, leading to a deepening of distrust between the Karzai-led Afghan government and the international community. The run-up to the 2014 presidential elections has been shaped by this distrust. Nonetheless, with the breakdown of the reconciliation effort with the Taliban and uncertainty about the result of the transition process due to President Hamid Karzai's unexpected refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the April 5 election is the only remaining opportunity for a political resolution of the continuing crisis in Afghanistan. A more complete understanding of the 2009 elections—how they were and were not a disaster—can help to narrow the gap between Afghan and international expectations; and an understanding of some of the changes that have occurred in Afghan society since 2009 can offer reason for optimism that the election will at the least create space for political elites to address the root causes of the crisis.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Corruption, Democratization, Political Economy, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Deedee Derksen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A piecemeal approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in Afghanistan, with four DDR programs since 2001 each targeting specific groups, has yielded limited results, mostly due to an extremely adverse political environment. Comprehensive DDR is unlikely to work without a settlement that includes all armed groups. The success of such a deal would in turn hinge on the successful reintegration of commanders and fighters. Sequencing DDR in the conventional way may not work; reintegration might better precede disarmament.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Michelle Hughes
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan National Police (ANP) has made remarkable progress, but the challenges are urgent, and critical capabilities remain underdeveloped. Within the framework of the minister of interior's own Strategic Vision, opportunities will arise to close some of the capacity gaps in the coming years. Helping the ANP shift from a wartime footing to a contextually appropriate community policing model, and advancing professionalism within the ministry and the operating forces, is critical to sustainability. If a national police force is going to succeed, the linkage between policing and governance must be recognized and strengthened. Managing the expanding array of ANP donors and their activities poses a unique challenge that has yet to be addressed. It is an executive challenge for the Ministry of Interior and a coordination challenge for the international community. For both, it will require a long-term approach. To facilitate effective evidence-based operations (EvBO) and strengthen the relationship between the ANP and the communities it serves, U.S.-funded activities that build capacity for justice and governance need to be more closely aligned with ANP development.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Robert Perito, Tariq Parvez
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Terrorism, secessionist insurgency, sectarian conflict, and ethnic turf wars have convulsed both Pakistan's major cities and tribal areas along the Afghanistan border. The escalation in mega-urban centers in particular has increased the importance of the police in controlling the endemic violence. The police station retains both its historic role as the symbol of government authority and its position as the basic law enforcement institution responsible for public order, law enforcement, and police services. Yet police stations and personnel are ill prepared and poorly equipped to meet the challenges of the country's complex, urbanized, and increasingly violent society. Pakistani police have found themselves on the front lines, and a growing number have given their lives to protect others in the struggle against terrorist and criminal groups. The need is now urgent to empower the police through a program of positive reform that would begin with modernizing police stations and reorienting and retraining their personnel. An effective program for police station reform would begin with assigning primacy to the police for controlling terrorism. It would include developing new organizational struc¬tures, positions, and standard operating procedures to ensure that local police understand their enhanced role and mission. It would also include improving police-public relations and networking police stations into a national information-sharing network with anti-terrorist agencies. Creating high-profile specialized units appears to offer a quick fix to a complex and increas¬ingly pervasive problem. The real solution, however, lies in empowering Pakistan's police stations to protect their communities from criminal and extremist violence through modern¬ization and reform.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • Author: Muhammad Quraish Khan
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Former U.N. peacekeepers are an emerging cadre within Pakistan's police who are precursors of professionalization and other positive changes in police culture. Given their peacekeeping experience, they are torchbearers of human rights protection in policing, and believers in gender equality and the rule of law. They have also shown an ability to resist undue political pressure by government ministers, politicians and interest groups. They form a resilient force when it comes to fighting the tide of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. This pool of trained resources may be utilized by the United Nations Department of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO) for the quick start of new peacekeeping missions. The Government of Pakistan could also utilize them for police-reform initiatives, imparting training and demonstrating best practices. Given the potential gains from police participation in U.N. peacekeeping, Pakistan's recent, self-imposed ban on police joining peacekeeping deployments in the future should be reversed.
  • Topic: Security, Culture
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, United States
  • Author: Palwasha L. Kakar
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the economic, security and political transitions take place in Afghanistan, it is essential to work with religious leaders who have credibility and moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public. Religious leaders are among Afghanistan's traditional "gatekeepers" for making local decisions, especially on questions of women's rights, and they can be effectively engaged. Despite the very negative reactions by religious leaders to women's rights at the national political level, some at the local level have shown continuing interest in women's rights when they are involved within an Islamic framework and have participated in protecting such rights. Effective engagement with religious leaders starts with respecting their opinions and involving them directly in processes of changing strongly held social norms on women's rights and other sensitive topics, such as tolerance and peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa
  • Author: Antonio Giustozzi, Casey Garret Johnson
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Taliban have more resources and are better organized to disrupt Afghanistan's 2014 national elections than was the case in any of the country's last four elections. Still, there are disagreements between insurgent leaders about carrying out a campaign of violence and intimidation. One group, led by Akhtar Mansur and tied to the Quetta Shura, favored, at least for some time, a more conciliatory approach and in the spring met informally with Afghan government officials to discuss allowing the polls to go forward. Another Group, led by Taliban military commander Zakir and the Peshawar Shura, favors disrupting the election. These upper-level divisions may have little consequence on the ground since rank-and-file fighters are either vowing to carry out attacks regardless or, as has happened in the past, may strike local deals with political entities to look the other way and allow voting to take place.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Taliban
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report reflects the author's research interests and several publications on security sector reform from a financial and development perspective. It is intended to lay out key issues and trade-offs in this area, and brings in concepts and tools of public financial management which are applicable to the security sector. The views expressed in this brief do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Chicago
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2006, a day of deadly riots in Kabul dramatized the need for an Afghan constabulary force capable of controlling outbreaks of urban violence. In response, the U.S. military and Afghan authorities created an elite gendarmerie, the Afghanistan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP). Although ANCOP was conceived of as a riot control force, it was assigned to the Focused District Development Program to replace district-level Afghan Uniformed Police who were away for training. The high demand and constant transfers required by this duty resulted in rates of attrition among ANCOP units of 75 to 80 percent. In 2010, ANCOP's superior training, firepower, and mobility were recognized in its assignment, along with a “surge” of U.S. military forces, to reverse the Taliban's hold on key areas in southern Afghanistan. In heavy fighting in Marja, Helmand province, ANCOP was demonstrably unprepared to serve as a counterinsurgency force, particularly in areas that had not been cleared by coalition and Afghan military forces. Subsequent improvements in training and partnering with U.S. forces improved ANCOP's performance in Kandahar, where ANCOP was used to hold areas that had been cleared by the military. By 2011, ANCOP had firmly established its place as an elite rapid reaction and counterinsurgency force with a positive reputation among coalition troops and Afghan citizens.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: At the Tokyo conference on July 8, donors committed to provide massive civilian aid to Afghanistan and improve aid effectiveness, while the Afghan government committed to a number of governance and political benchmarks. The outcome at Tokyo exceeded expectations, but a review of Afghan and international experience suggests that implementing the Tokyo mutual accountability framework will be a major challenge. The multiplicity of donors could weaken coherence around targets and enforcing benchmarks, and undermine the accountability of the international community for overall funding levels. Uncertain political and security prospects raise doubts about the government's ability to meet its commitments, and political will for needed reforms understandably may decline as security transition proceeds and the next election cycle approaches. It is doubtful whether major political issues can be handled through an articulated mutual accountability framework with benchmarks and associated financial incentives. The civilian aid figure agreed upon at Tokyo ($16 billion over four years) is ambitious and exceeded expectations; if the international community falls short, this could be used to justify the Afghan government failing to achieve its benchmarks. Finally, given past experience there are doubts about how well the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) process (mandated to oversee implementation), and the series of further high-level meetings agreed at Tokyo, will work.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Development, Economics, Governance, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Caroline Hartzell
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program sought to enable the Afghan government to establish a monopoly on the use of force by helping break the linkages between former Afghan Military Forces (AMF) commanders and their troops, helping former combatants make the transition from military to civilian life, and collecting weapons in the possession of the AMF. Although Afghanistan presented an extremely challenging environment in which to implement DDR, a window for carrying out this task arguably existed for a couple of years after the signing of the Bonn Agreement. During this time the security situation throughout much of the country was relatively calm, the population generally supported efforts to establish peace, and the politicization of the security sector that began in the wake of the agreement was not yet entrenched. Unfortunately, the failure to include DDR in the Bonn settlement was the first in a series of missteps that limited the program's contributions to security sector reform. Delays in the design and initiation of a DDR process, combined with the international community's initial decision to leave only a light footprint in Afghanistan, left armed Afghan actors to contend with the type of security dilemma that has proven detrimental to other efforts to stabilize the peace. Competing militias' efforts to provide security as well as some groups' attempts to gain control of the security sector apparatus generated mistrust among the militias and reinforced the power of commanders and warlords. This situation was exacerbated by the coalition's reluctance to check the growing factionalization of the DDR process and a civilian-implemented DDR program that lacked the coercive capacity to contend with spoilers. DDR provisions should be part of a peace settlement. If armed groups prove unwilling to agree to such measures, their commitment to the settlement and to a durable peace must be considered suspect. Once such settlement measures have been agreed to, third-party actors—international or regional peacekeeping forces, third-party armies—should commit to providing security before, during, and after DDR; this sends a message to civilians and combatants that DDR will not endanger their safety.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Patricia Weiss Fagan
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Programs to return refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes after conflict, implemented by national authorities with international support, frequently leave far too many without viable futures. The measures are often inadequate for three reasons: a widely shared but flawed assumption that the need to create a future for returnees is satisfied by restoring them to their prior lives; a lack of long-term engagement by implementing authorities; and a focus on rural reintegration when many refugees and IDPs are returning to urban areas. These arguments are illustrated in four country cases—Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Burundi. In each case, the places that refugees and IDPs were forced to flee have been greatly reshaped. They often lack security and economic opportunities; governance is weak and services are inadequate. Returnees have made choices about their futures in large part on the basis of these factors. While reclaiming land or receiving compensation for losses is important, the challenge for many returnees is to settle where they can maintain sustainable livelihoods; find peaceful living conditions; have access to health care, education, and employment opportunities; and enjoy full rights of citizenship. This may mean a move from rural to urban areas and a change in the source of income generation that has to be accounted for in the design of reintegration programs. Returning refugees and IDPs should be assisted for a sufficient amount of time to determine which location and livelihood will suit them best. For international organizations, this may involve greater creativity and flexibility in supporting returnees in urban settings. To accommodate inflows of returnees and their general mobility, national and local governments should develop urban planning strategies to manage the growth of their cities, coupled with regional development plans in rural areas that may involve investment in commercial agriculture. Linking rural and urban areas by strengthening government institutions can also provide returnees with more livelihood options and promote development.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Refugee Issues, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Middle East, Balkans, Burundi
  • Author: Deedee Derksen
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) aims to reintegrate insurgents in return for security, jobs and other incentives, but has seen limited results. Rapid implementation of the program has failed to address adequately a variety of political, employment and security concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Hodei Sultan
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Istanbul Conference slated for November 2, 2011 aims to bring to the discussion table issues relating to the transition in Afghanistan, including Afghan security, recruitment, training and equipment of Afghan security forces, as well as the reconciliation process. The conference will also focus on regional economic cooperation.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Peace Studies, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: John K. Naland
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Embedded provincial reconstruction teams (ePRTs) were small State Department- led units inserted into U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 2007 to 2010 to support military counterinsurgency efforts at the local level. During major combat operations in 2007 and into 2008, ePRTs provided important support to military counterinsurgency efforts. As U.S. combat units wound down these efforts and withdrew from towns and cities, ePRTs did useful-but harder to quantify-work in mentoring local officials. Combat brigades and ePRTs generally worked well together. However, some units were unsure of how best to employ civilians. The military and civilians also sometimes had differing views on issues of short-term versus long-term goals. Despite problems, ePRT veterans believe that they had a positive effect in both supporting military counterinsurgency efforts and helping local Iraqi officials prepare for self-reliance. Interviewees identified a variety of operational problems that detracted from ePRT mission accomplishment. The Iraq ePRTs are now history, but as the United States continues to use civil-military teams in Afghanistan, these observed lessons need to be learned and acted upon.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Noah Coburn
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: There are numerous sources of local conflict in Afghanistan today, but the majority cluster around a few issues: disputes over land and water rights; family disputes, particularly inheritance; and disputes over control of local positions of authority. Lack of capacity or resources in the formal justice systems has been blamed for the lack of effective dispute resolution. But the fact that disputes were resolved more regularly in Afghanistan before the war years, when the formal justice system had even fewer resources, indicates that other causes are involved. Lack of political and personal security of dispute-resolution practitioners and the increased power of local commanders, whose authority is not community-based, have undermined the traditional dispute-resolution system. At the same time, corruption and inefficiency have delegitimized the formal justice system in the eyes of many disputants. Afghans and foreign donors alike note that Afghanistan has both state (court-based) and nonstate (based upon a combination of customary and religious law) justice sectors, and it is often assumed that these systems solely compete with each other for dispute-resolution authority. USIP research shows that, contrary to assumptions, successfully resolved disputes rely on a combination of formal and informal actors. Indeed, it is common for disputes to move between formal and informal venues and to be considered by a series of local elders and, more rarely, government officials.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Alison Laporte-Oshiro
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Consolidating the legitimate use of force in the hands of the state is a vital first step in post-conflict peacebuilding. Transitional governments must move quickly to neutralize rival armed groups and provide a basic level of security for citizens. Two processes are vital to securing a monopoly of force: disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration and security sector reform. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) involve disbanding armed groups that challenge the government's monopoly of force. Security sector reform (SSR) means reforming and rebuilding the national security forces so that they are professional and accountable. U.S. experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo yielded three crosscutting lessons: go in heavy, tackle DDR and SSR in tandem, and consolidate U.S. capacity to implement both tasks in a coordinated, scalable way.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Liberia
  • Author: Robert Perito, David Bayley
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Police corruption is an international problem. Historically, police misconduct has been a factor in the development of police institutions worldwide, but it is a particular problem in counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations, such as the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization police training program in Afghanistan. There, police abuse and corruption appear endemic and have caused some Afghans to seek the assistance of the Taliban against their own government. The most reliable and extensive knowledge about police corruption in the world's Englishspeaking countries is found in the reports of specially appointed blue-ribbon commissions, independent of government, created for the sole purpose of conducting investigations of police corruption. To reduce police corruption, the commissions recommend creating external oversight over the police with a special focus on integrity, improving recruitment and training, leadership from supervisors of all ranks about integrity, holding all commanders responsible for the misbehavior of subordinates, and changing the organization's culture to tolerate misbehavior less. The remedies proposed by the commissions, however, rely on a set of contextual conditions not commonly found in countries emerging from conflict or facing serious threats to their security. This report suggests triage and bootstraps as strategies for reducing police corruption in countries with security threats. Triage involves targeting assistance in countries where there are solid prospects for tipping police practice in the desired direction. Bootstraps involves using reform within the police itself as a lever to encourage systemic social and political reform in countries in crisis or emerging from conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Crime, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Legislative oversight of the security sector is crucial to ensure that security policies and expenditures are undertaken with full transparency, accountability and concern for other national priorities and popular attitudes. This is important in conflict states, particularly during peace or stability operations. Establishing legislative oversight is difficult in conflict countries because of the absence of historical tradition, the complexity of security agencies, the technical nature of the issues, secrecy laws and the lack of expertise among parliamentarians and their staffs. The U.S. Congress provides a model for effective legislative oversight of the security sector for other countries to emulate. Congress has developed the legal authorities and the traditions required to form an effective partnership with the Defense and Justice departments, the U.S. military forces and civilian security services. Due to the importance of legislative oversight of the security sector to the democratic process, the U.S. Congress provides advice and training to foreign parliaments and parliamentarians in security sector reform. Congress has important partnership arrangements with parliaments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, Kosovo and other conflict countries.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Georgia
  • Author: Leonard Rubenstein
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: An initiative by the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan to expand health services throughout the country, including rural communities, and supported by donors including USAID, has vastly expanded access to primary health care services, significantly reduced child mortality, and increased the capacity of the Afghan government to provide an essential service to its people. The program is based on principles of equity, national ownership, community engagement, and women's equality, and it warrants continued development. Many challenges remain, not least expanding services in insecure areas, and a more stable environment could better enable the Ministry of Public Health to achieve its goals. The U.S. military has supported health services development for the Afghan army and also offers significant emergency care services to civilians in insecure regions, training for health workers, construction of health facilities and other health-related programs. The military's civilian health initiatives, largely disconnected from the Ministry of Public Health, are short term, ad hoc, and unsustainable, and to date have lacked a consistent rationale or strategy, and have not been subject to evaluation. U.S. counterinsurgency strategy seeks to mesh development and security objectives through activities that enhance the legitimacy of the Afghan government in the eyes of its people. In the field of health, there are considerable tensions between counterinsurgency and development strategies, which must be addressed to increase the capacity of the government and meet health needs of the people.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Health, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: John Dempsey, Noah Coburn
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Faced with difficulties establishing legitimate, effective rule of law and the predominance of informal or traditional justice mechanisms in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and the international community have increasingly focused on engaging informal justice systems to resolve both civil and criminal disputes. While informal systems vary across the country, they are generally based upon restorative justice and the preservation of communal harmony. They currently resolve the vast majority of legal disputes and other conflicts in the country, particularly in rural areas. Engagement with informal systems and linking such systems to state institutions present some of the more effective opportunities for resolving conflicts and increasing access to justice for all Afghans because they are familiar, locally available, and involve relatively low costs. Such engagement, however, also faces significant logistical, cultural, political, and legal challenges. When engaging informal systems and/or implementing programs to link them to the state, it is important to have sound understanding of local power dynamics and how local dispute resolution systems function. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has been working on informal justice in Afghanistan since 2002 and has run pilot projects in six districts that test ways of designing or strengthening links between the state and informal systems to increase access to justice. Some of the best practices identified from the pilot projects include the importance of regular and substantive communication between informal and state justice actors, the promotion of the use of written records of decisions by informal systems, and the monitoring of decisions to ensure applicable Afghan laws and international human rights standards are upheld.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States