BAMYAN - Community elders, civil society activists, religious scholars and media representatives in the central highlands province gathered at a UN-backed symposium to strategize on ways to promote social cohesion, both locally and nationally, in the interest of advancing peace.
More than 20 community leaders attended the event, organized by UNAMA’s Bamyan regional office, to exchange ideas about the main factors affecting social cohesion in the province and across Afghanistan, and to chart out possible next steps toward peace.
Speaking at the event, Sadiq Aliyar, the head of the provincial peace committee in Bamyan, said that although the conflict in Afghanistan has affected social structures across the country, the people of Bamyan are overcoming their differences and joining hands against the common threat of insecurity.
“This is what needs to happen at the national level,” stressed Aliyar. “We must recognize the rights of each other and work together to end the conflict in our country.”
Other participants at the symposium offered similar perspectives as they discussed the need for more development initiatives, job opportunities and political solidarity to build community cohesion.
“Through promoting social justice for all members of society and the inclusion of women and youth in decision-making, we can improve social cohesion,” said Sayed Ali Hashimi, a provincial council member who urged all Afghans to overcome their differences in the interest of having a prosperous nation.
“Overcoming differences starts at school,” said Hashimi. “In our education curriculum, we need to have more content to promote national unity and cohesion among all Afghans.”
At the conclusion of the event, the participants jointly resolved to carry the discussion forward among their respective communities in future events and engagements.
The Bamyan symposium is one of many other similar programmes, events and initiatives resulting from UNAMA reaching out to a range of groups across the country to create spaces, both physical and on social media, for them to come together and discuss issues that are of critical importance to them, and to strategize on the best way forward.
At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.