Kabul, August 2016. Building peace in a country that has known more than four decades of armed conflict is undoubtedly a daunting a task – but that's exactly what 30 female Afghan police officers who attended a five-day peacebuilding workshop at EUPOL HQ are setting their sights on.
Conflict management, effective communication and mediation skills are some of the essential elements to peacebuilding which were explored during the course – organised exclusively for female ANP officers. The EUPOL Head of Mission, Ms. Pia Stjernvall cited Afghanistan's past and recent history as justification for the course. “Afghanistan has been at war for over 40 years and sometimes people forget how to solve problems without fighting," she said.
The workshop included lectures, group discussions, brainstorming and role play – with specific focus on the role of the individual in peacebuilding.
"Our aim is to bring about positive change with regard to knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that have been affected during periods of war and violence," said Mr. Habibullah Farhang, a master trainer of the peacebuilding course.
"Many societal problems will be brought to these police officers and it is our responsibility to ensure that they break the vicious cycle of conflict through a better understanding of and analysis of conflicts."
He emphasized that peacebuilding is a long-term process which requires raising awareness, building trust, teaching conflict resolution skills, exploring avenues for retribution for those who have committed crimes and promoting peaceful coexistence and the acceptance of diversity.
At the closure of the workshop, participants attested to an increased awareness of developing peace. The participants will, in their daily work, act as trainers on mediation and peacebuilding. Mika Noori, a Gender and Human Rights Advisor at EUPOL believes that this will ensure the sustainability.
“We learned that in order to understand peace, you have to understand the root causes of conflict and recognize how, for example, the use of negative words or body language can lead to a conflict or how a small communication problem can grow into a violent dispute or even turn into a war. When talking about conflict resolution, we as a law implementing body should make sure that conflicts are prevented,” said officer Arzoo Haidary.
Ms. Pia Stjernvall encouraged the police officers to share their experiences with EUPOL. “I hope that this workshop will not only enhance your abilities in your everyday work as police officers but also benefit the work of your male counterparts. Your feedback will certainly add value to the current discussion on the future of policing in Afghanistan, which EUPOL is strongly involved in,” she said.