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Alternative Dispute Resolution Association - Paktia - Background Information
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers resolve the large majority of Afghanistan’s cases and conflict. At this time, most Afghans appear to prefer ADR systems to state courts and other government forums, especially for their speed, efficiency, and ability to maintain peace at the local level. However, ADR systems also have well-known problems, including, but not limited to, corruption and the issuing of decisions without sufficient documentation to forestall later disputes.
In light of these issues, numerous organizations have explored methodologies to link ADR systems with state capacities, and to help address ADR systems’ deficiencies. The Liaison Office (TLO) has been deeply engaged with ADR providers since the organization’s founding in 2003, and has undertaken dedicated work on ADR issues since 2007. In that year, having been approached by local community leaders, TLO agreed to facilitate a state-nonstate dispute resolution shura in Khost province, labelled a Commission for Conflict Mediation (CCM), with membership balanced by ethnicity and area of origin, and in collaboration with the Khost provincial governor. Since that time, while gradually developing its methodologies, TLO has facilitated CCM-type bodies throughout Southern, Eastern, and Southeastern Afghanistan.
Based on the apparent success of these projects, TLO in 2011 hosted a nationwide conference with roughly 100 ADR providers, to solicit their ideas on how to further improve the functioning of ADR systems, and promote their integration into the statebuilding process. Meeting over several days in Kabul, these key stakeholders suggested that facilitating associations of ADR providers to develop best-practices and promote their adoption could offer a viable path forward for both improving the functioning of ADR and bolstering its capacity for state interaction.
With funding from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), TLO in 2012 began the facilitation of a pilot Association of Alternative Dispute Resolution Providers in Paktia province. This Association is focusing on developing its own best practices, membership accreditation, capacity building/training of members and performance monitoring of members. The design of the Association specifically comes from consultations with Paktia elders in February and March of 2012. The Association has 20 members who hail from throughout Paktia, including numerous prominent ADR providers as well as state representatives, such as the President of Gardez University.
Between 2012 and the present, the Association has met 18 times. It has developed ADR Guidelines for land disputes and criminal disputes, and also including policy statements, the first self-generated history of ADR in Paktia province, and the history of Paktia’s major tribes. While TLO has aided the process, we are in no sense the author of the document: the ADR Association has either authored, or explicitly approved, each aspect of the Guidelines. The Guidelines have also been reviewed, and approved by, the government in Paktia province, with a particular contribution by Paktia’s Department of Tribal Affairs.
TLO hopes these Guidelines can serve as a model for other areas, and that the Association itself will demonstrate the capacities of ADR providers to come together for analysing, critiquing, and strengthening their own practices. In this way, entities such as the Association will not only improve dispute resolution outcomes, but also contribute to bottom-up and community-led statebuilding throughout Afghanistan.