Civil Peace Service / Special Initiative on displacement: Afghan youth for peace
Title: Civil Peace Service: Afghan youth for peace
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2014 to 2019
In Afghanistan, the insurgency by radical Islamic groups continues even after 13 years of international military presence. Power struggles between former warlords and corruption are paralysing central government. In addition to serious human rights violations and to the lack of security, population growth poses a particular challenge.
Every year, 400,000 young people enter a shrinking labour market. A large number of young men and women still have inadequate schooling and vocational training. Many have suffered violence or are being used to perpetrate acts of violence. Neither their upbringing at home nor their time at school has equipped them to adopt a positive approach to social problems and conflicts. Many young people suffer from the consequences of the ubiquitous violence in the past and present. They do not understand the political causes of the civil war and believe that ethnic and religious differences are directly responsible for it. They are thus unable to break free of their prejudices and remain trapped by political manipulation.
Young people have few opportunities to voice their views and find little recognition in society, which is still dominated by traditional hierarchies. They are expected to remain silent in the presence of their elders. Many young Afghans are nevertheless looking for fresh prospects to cope with life together. They wish to contribute to peace and democratic change in their country.
Afghan youth contribute to finding peaceful solutions to problems encountered in the life and conflicts of their communities. They help restore the social fabric and have a voice in society.
The Civil Peace Service (CPS) strengthens the capacity for self-determination of Afghan youth (empowerment). Young men and women undergo training to promote the skills that are fundamental for the establishment of non-violent relations: active listening, forging trust, understanding one's own emotions such as anger and fear, and being able to learn new forms of behavior. They are supported in developing new concepts about the roles of the sexes.
Talented young people are encouraged to actively assume social responsibility and democratic leadership. Young people who stand up for the human rights of other individuals receive training on how to cooperate constructively with the authorities to advocate people's interests. Groups that aim to overcome ethnic and religious divides are supported in dialogue processes.
Awareness is being raised among local politicians, civil servants, police officers, community elders, mullahs and journalists about the rights and concerns of young people. CPS also promotes the nationwide networking of young people through social media. To implement these activities, CPS runs a program office in Mazar-e-Sharif. Teams of national CPS experts are based in these offices to advise and support Afghan organizations and youth groups.
The project is part of the BMZ Special Initiative on ‘Tackling the root causes of displacement, stabilising host regions, supporting refugees’.
Between 2004 and 2015, GIZ’s CPS programme for promoting peace and working towards peaceful conflict resolution in Afghanistan has achieved the following results:
- Theatre performances were used to refute enemy stereotypes between neighbouring ethnic and religious groups.
- Peace caravans brought together people from the north and south of the country.
- A curriculum for peace education that was created with support from CPS is now being introduced to teacher training programs for over 20,000 teachers.
- Activists at 20 Afghani universities have been linked with each other, and are working to establish ‘Peace’ as a subject for study.
- More than 500 young male and female activists received trainings on Life and Leadership Skills, many of them are still active in civil society organizations or their communities.
- Support for gender equality has become widespread, particularly in the young generation.
- Traditional community councils (shuras) have been trained in conflict resolution, and are promoting children's rights.
- Media professionals have a greater awareness of their influence on the course of conflicts. During the presidential elections of 2014, the mass media played a key role in encouraging high voter turnout and in easing conflicts between the political factions.