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Legacies of Conflict: Justice, Reconciliation and Ways Forward

Founder(s): Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kabul
Status: Completed

“The government doesn’t investigate the abuses and other crimes that are happening in our country now…let alone those that occurred in the past. The government doesn’t listen to the voices of the people and so people don’t have any trust in the government.” – Respondent in Ghazni
New approaches to Afghanistan’s conflict and its potential resolution are being considered. When identifying ways forward, more Afghan voices need to be brought into the discussion—it is not enough to just consult Afghan and international actors who hold positions of power. More understanding is required about what Afghans have suffered, are continuing to experience, and what they really need and want.

AREU’s legacies of conflict research has focused on this goal. It took place in urban and rural areas in the provinces of Ghazni, Kabul and Bamiyan, and was designed to reach people and communities with a range of ethnic backgrounds and wartime experiences, to allow for comparisons across groups and across time.
A peaceful country was desired by all and a negotiated end to the violence was widely seen as necessary but not easy to achieve. For a just and durable settlement to occur and for people to feel “at peace,” it was also widely perceived that the legacies of past and present conflict will need to be addressed. It was found that justice holds a variety of meanings for people, who have experienced conflict in different ways. Justice in Afghanistan is often conflated to mean criminal trials only, but a broader perspective is necessary. These varied histories result in a wide variety of opinions and the research demonstrated that there is no one way to deal with the legacies of wartime violations or those held responsible for them.
However, across all research locations people were experiencing ongoing pain stemming from conflict and commonly expressed a need for closure. While demands for criminal-style justice for wartime violators are strong, people are pragmatic when it comes to ways to deal with the past and were willing to discuss other options. Overall, people commonly expressed a desire for some kind of recognition of the pain and suffering they have experienced, which was often more important than the process used to achieve it.

Case studies for each province as well as a paper identifying patterns of wartime violations are now available and a final report is due toward the end of 2011.

Publications from this research project:

Healing the Legacies of Conflict in Afghanistan: Community Voices on Justice, Peace and Reconciliation

This paper synthesises the findings from AREU’s Legacies of Conflect research project from across the Bamiyan, Ghazni and Kabul research sites, in search of broadly acceptable approaches to address the legacies of conflict and support reconciliation in the country. It Read More

Painful Steps: Justice, Forgiveness and Compromise in Afghanistan’s Peace Process

This paper places AREU’s legacies of conflict research into the context of ongoing peace efforts. It shows that Afghans are generally both pragmatic and principled in search of peace. During interviews, they maintained a keen sense of justice but usually Read More

Legacies of Conflict: Healing Complexes and Moving Forwards in Ghazni Province

The third written in the series, this paper presents findings from an urban area of Ghazni City and a rural community in Qarabagh District. The research aims to deepen understanding of the impact of past and present war crimes and Read More

Legacies of Conflict: Healing Complexes and Moving Forwards in Bamiyan Province

The second written in the series, this paper presents findings from an urban area of Bamiyan City and a rural community in Yakowlang District. The research aims to deepen understanding of the impact of past and present war crimes and Read More

Legacies of Conflict: Healing Complexes and Moving Forwards in Kabul Province

The first written in the series, this paper presents findings from an urban district of Kabul City and a rural community in Shakardara District. The research aims to deepen understanding of the impact of past and present war crimes and Read More

Wartime Suffering: Patterns of Violations in Afghanistan

This paper accompanies the Bamiyan, Ghazni and Kabul provincial case studies from AREU’s legacies of conflict research. It must be noted that the research was not designed to systematically document wartime experiences. However, a vast number of people gave up Read More

The State of Transitional Justice in Afghanistan

This discussion paper provides an overview of the current state of transitional justice in Afghanistan. It is not intended to be exhaustive but attempts to establish a picture of transitional justice activities in Afghanistan today, raising the key challenges and Read More

Ending Impunity and Building Justice in Afghanistan

In December 2001, the signatories to the Bonn Agreement pledged that they were “determined to end the tragic conflict and promote national reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights in the country.” The Bonn Conference was followed by Read More

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