Research on Nomad-Settler Conflict: The Afghan State Cannot Leave the Issue Unmanaged

Research on Nomad-Settler Conflict: The Afghan State Cannot Leave the Issue Unmanaged

The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) launched one of its recent research papers in a meeting attended by community representatives, civil society organizations, government officials and media at the AREU Office on 13 January 2018 in Kabul.

“The Role of the Afghan State in Managing Nomadism and Nomad-Settler Conflict” is the title of the paper written by AREU researcher, Dr. Antonio Giustozzi, and funded by the European Union. This three-pronged research project on natural resources management has consisted of a component about nomad-settler conflict.

For the enrichment of the report, interviews were conducted with government officials, community leaders and other conflict observers in Kabul, Bamyan, Khost, Ghazni, Farah, Logar and Wardak provinces. The paper illustrates the previous findings with regard to the role of the Afghan state in managing this conflict.

The paper discusses the role of the state before the ongoing series of wars in Afghanistan started in 1978. Its main focus, however, is on the role of the Afghan state today in managing conflict between nomads and settlers, and on how that role could evolve. Thus, the report briefly surveys the relevant legislation before discussing in detail the role of the state in dispute and conflict resolution.

“Inevitably, the persistent conflict in Afghanistan affects the ability of the state to mediate nomad-settler disputes, and, indeed, can exacerbate them,” the paper says. “In turn, these largely unmanaged local disputes contribute to the wider conflict and weaken state legitimacy. This means that the Afghan state can ill afford to leave the issue unmanaged.”

Along with 46 interviews conducted in eight case study locations where conflict between nomads and settlers occurred at one point or another, another 15 were conducted with elders of nomad and settler communities, along with four with MPs linked to the communities affected by the conflict, six with mediators in conflict resolution efforts or their close collaborators and 14 with government officials. In total, 85 interviews were carried out as of mid-June 2018.

According to the paper, pastureland was only defined as “state land” in the 1987 and 1990 constitutions, both of which have been repealed. “The laws of the 1960s and 1970s defined pastureland as public property,” the report states and adds that there is often nostalgia for those years, especially, but not only, among nomads, and for the strong and effective government believed to be managing things at that time.

AREU is an independent research institute based in Kabul that was established in 2002 by the assistance of the international community in Afghanistan. AREU’s mission is to inform and influence policy and practice by conducting high-quality, policy-relevant, evidence-based research and actively disseminating the results and promote a culture of research and learning.

AREU achieves its mission by engaging with policymakers, civil society, researchers and academics to promote their use of AREU’s research-based publications and its library, strengthening their research capacity and creating opportunities for analysis, reflection and debate.

AREU is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of representatives of donor organizations, embassies, the United Nations and other multilateral agencies, Afghan civil society and independent experts.

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