The NCPD was invited to contribute to the Norwegian Governmental hearing on Afghanistan, and our Afghanistan expert Norunn Grande acted as our spokeswoman. This is her speech:
We are grateful for this opportunity to share observations from our numerous dialogue fieldwork trips to Afghanistan, as well as observations made working with Afghans in Norway.
All peace processes springs from a hope and a belief in the fact that peace can be achieved. And we believe peace can be achieved in Afghanistan.
Encouraging and building trust between people, and between people and the government, is vital if we are to construct a society where conflicts can be resolved without the use of violence. Basic human rights need to be secured. This is the only way to ensure that everybody can participate on equal footing, without fear of reprisals.
We must put our efforts into protecting the peace, and not the war
Time and time again we at the centre have been told by Afghans that they feel that the war, not peace, is the centre of attention and the priority.
During my visit to Kabul of November last year civil unrest was at a peak. The dangers people faced were greater than they had been since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. We had several bombings with many casualties, and numerous kidnappings during the weeks I spent there. But despite of this life continued pretty much as normal, and within the walls, and the house and garden, people were safe.
Last year we had a workshop on dialogue and peaceful conflict resolution in Kabul. We had participants from Faryab, Mazar, Badakshan and Ghazni. These women and men spend their days working for sustainable development within their local communities.
Many Afghans firmly believe that their country can be developed, and that they can contribute towards this goal. This is very encouraging, and speaks to their resilience as a people. It also shows that they still hope for peace, and that they work to achieve it.
Most people living in Afghanistan live in rural areas, and not in big cities such as Kabul. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked when it comes to peace building and achieving change. The ongoing poverty and war makes life a misery for millions of people.
Afghan democratic development
There does however exist pockets of peace and traditions in Afghanistan, which can be developed and built upon.
Afghanistan has a traditional dialogue platform called the shura. This is a council which traditionally consists of older men. We have seen that in some cases the shura is expanded to include women and young people. This local democracy development should be supported and encouraged.
Applying political will to secure and strengthen institutions where people can report rape and violent attacks, and where perpetrators can be prosecuted is also needed.
Afghanistan did not volunteer for 10 years of brutal violence and war, but there is a will for peace. We must be there for them, and join them in working towards peace and development.