USIP on Informal Dispute Resolution in Afghanistan

Aug. 13, 2010, 9:20 a.m.

The Democracy and Governance community is concerned with building functional, democratic institutions in developing societies.   Terms like "state-failure" are often used to describe areas where populations are failing to build, or maintain those institutions.  Western-style institutions, however, are not the only form of governance, and many societies use established forms of "informal institutions" to govern themselves and resolve conflict.  Practitioners in Afghanistan are increasingly finding it useful to work with these informal institutions to accomplish their objectives.  The United States Institute of Peace has released a policy brief, which explores its use of informal dispute resolution in Afghanistan, and how such practices can help establish security and the rule of law.

This report discusses informal justice in Afghanistan and its relationship to state institutions. It draws on a series of pilot projects sponsored and overseen by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and on work by other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), international donors, and the international military in Afghanistan, as well as on field visits by the authors. Over the past several years, the USIP team that oversaw the projects spoke with hundreds of Afghan government officials, community leaders, citizens, members of the NGO community, international government officials, and military personnel about informal justice issues. The report provides a summary of this research and a series of recommendations for the Afghan government and the international community engaged with rule of law in the country.

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