Multi-Lateral Institutions and Conflict Resolution


The role of regional, international and transnational organizations in peacebuilding has seen a huge shift following the end of the Cold War. Analyzing the post-1990s trend, realists mention how a bipolar international system was more conducive to international peace rather than betting on an ambiguous collective security system. But with the arrival of ‘interventionism’ and the adoption of an anarchic political order around the world, the role of international organizations in conflict, institutionalists argue, has taken an even greater position to aid the growth of cooperative conflict resolution processes.

According to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 65/283, passed in 2011, cooperation and partnering with international, regional and sub-regional organizations by the UN will strengthen the role of mediation in the “peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution”. The then Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, developed the UN Guidance for international effective mediation through the establishment of eight core principles, namely; preparedness, consent, impartiality, inclusivity, national ownership, international law and normative frameworks, coherence, coordination and complementarity, and quality peace agreements.

The UNGA Resolution 66/291 of 2012 urged for the adoption of such a Guidance, and was meant as a resource for mediators, actors, States, not withholding other stakeholders such as conflict parties and civil societies. In Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, the emphasis on strong relationships with regional actors was included as a 2014 resolution to further develop non-UN actors’ capacity to mitigate conflict.

Some of the present day well-known regional organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), The Organization of American States (OAS), Organization of African Union (OAU), have no doubt, played an imperative role in determining high-crisis scenarios of escalating conflict. However, in my term paper, I will be analyzing the role of a lesser-known regional organization, technically a not-for-profit Non-Governmental Organization, Jalal Foundation in the peacebuilding process of Afghanistan. My hypothesis is that the NGO, housing former Ministers of State and tying with other regional organizations has led its status to acquire fluidity and thus, excel in the role of female empowerment and gender justice in ways the UN has not.

The Jalal Foundation: Background

The Jalal Foundation was established after a group of women-led and women-centric organizations approached former Minister of Women, Dr. Massouda Jalal, to establish a coherent web of councils working towards gender-based justice and empowerment. Established in 2006, it now boasts of an existing network of up to 50 NGOs and councils across the world.

The Foundation’s belief rests on the women’s quest for solidarity and participation in the peacemaking process of Afghan women in the region. Its network includes organizations such as Kabul Women Skills Development Society (KWSDS), Women’s Economic Capacity Building Organization (WECO), Legal Organization for Justice and Tolerance (LOJT), and Afghanistan Women and Children Socio Development Organization (AWCSDO).

It has underlined its mission as improving the lives of Afghan Women, facilitating their participation in national peace building and reconstruction and giving them the space to enjoy their rights. The Foundation’s main objectives include improving capacity building opportunities within women through actual training, strengthening accessibility to women in rural areas and decreasing structural restraint from government programs, services and budgets.

Apart from that, it has voiced its support for initiatives fostering young women leadership and political participation and has been successfully able to generate a consistent amount of attention and support from the international community towards the plight of Afghan women.

In the December 2011 Bonn International Conference in Brussels, hosted by NATO, Dr. Jalal was invited as guest speaker on “Seminar on Women’s Empowerment in the World through the Implementation of UNSCR 1325”. The landmark resolution, passed in 2000, reaffirmed the important role women played in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, including “peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction”.

During the seminar, Dr. Jalal referred to the phenomena of ‘Talibanization’; i.e., the ideological, structural and political policies of the militant outfit that would eventually influence the country in the process of ‘illusionary reconciliation’ by the Afghan government. According to her, the perpetrators of war crimes could only bring about peace through their prosecution to the full extent of international law.

In an interview given earlier in September 2010, while interacting with a group of college students from a facet of Delhi University, Dr. Jalal highlighted how local power in the region rested in the hands of extremist groups with patriarchal notions of participation in any arena. Observing the ‘female face’ of excessive poverty in Afghanistan, owing to lack of economic accessibility of resources and opportunities, she further mentioned how ‘women are the actual messengers of peace’ and that there can be no peacemaking without their support.

Interestingly, last year, the United States Institute of Peace Special Report on “Pathways for Post-Peace Development in Afghanistan” mentions the increasing role of female actors in the government as an insightful method of progress, bringing into focus the participation of women as highlighted by the Foundation.

Afghan Peace Process Dialogue

In September of 2020, the first round of direct peace talks between the Taliban and the US Government came into being in Doha, Qatar after two decades of declaring war against terrorism. The agreement led the US to declare its goal of removing combatant forces by May 2021, and the Taliban agreed to counter terrorism efforts including formal negotiations with the Afghan government for a ceasefire.

However, the agreement has barely mentioned the role of uplifting women and has instead, focused on balancing the power politics between the two warring parties. While it is noted that Taliban support in the region varies due to the citizens’ inherent ethnic diversity, it is disappointing to see that the international political stage clearly views itself to be patriarchally anarchic, with archaic notions of power and dominance over the vulnerable sections of the society.

In this regard, the Jalal Foundation has been gearing to launch an inter-regional dialogue between various representatives of different and under-reported provinces in Afghanistan to report nuanced and gendered discussions of the peace process. Speaking to the Project’s core member, Husna Jalal, the project aims to reform future policies and peace processes within the Afghan government, specifically with The Ministry of Women Affairs and The Ministry of Peace. The Project is currently at its initial stages and will be carried out over a stipulated period to ascertain dialogue and discussions around the topic.

The Foundation’s role as a Mediator

In its first five-year report as a foundation, the NGO noted its role in organizing conferences in three different provinces on bringing women into mainstream politics and creating ‘solidarity circles’ based on the notions of gender equality and democracy. The conferences were attended by 6,000 community leaders in Badakshan, Kabul and Kunduz. Apart from activists, intellectuals, teachers and noted civic officials, journalists and news organizations were part of the event.

During the conferences, Dr. Jalal focused on “the importance of fighting terrorism and extremism by coming together and adopting a community strategy that support the empowerment of women, human rights, elimination of violence against women, women’s reproductive health and rights, building women’s capacity, solidarity among women, and partnership with men”.

Later, the conferences resulted in resolutions urging the government to condemn terrorism, extremism, end gender-based discriminatory practices, violence against women, a culture of impunity and male-dominated political centers. The conferences were one of a kind in the sense that for the first time, both men and women were seated across each other and engaging in dialogue. For a traditional society like Afghanistan, this was deeply uncommon and earlier abhorred.

Similarly, the role of the Foundation in guaranteeing crucial international support for its cause is essential to discuss. The report states how in 2011, Dr. Jalal headed a women’s delegation in participating in the South Asian Regional Conference on the subject of “Promoting Gender Responsive Democratic Governance in South Asia”.

In her speech, while criticizing the Afghan government, she said,

“…religious ‘extremists’ foster masculine control over women’s lives to the point that the birthrights of women as human beings are trampled upon and eroded… Unfortunately, political and religious extremists have become strange bedfellows. And when deals are negotiated between themselves, women’s agenda inevitably become part of the bargaining chips.”

Furthermore, as part of her recommendations to the issue, she implored the administration to partake in the process of selecting ‘brilliant, young Afghan women’, provide them with training and resources for the election process and most interestingly, “making it mandatory that one of the two appointed vice Presidents is a woman”.

She also stressed on looking, in retrospect at the Middle Eastern conflicts and revolution to derive lessons on dictatorship and democracy, erode the influence of Taliban in national policymaking, support the work of UN Women and other international organizations for the upliftment of Afghan women, to further the growth of literacy, education, agricultural participation, and legal accessibility of national issues to women.

Working toward Women Empowerment

The report mentions the areas of interest where the Foundation has worked from a period of 2006-2011, ranging from cultivating life skills to vocational training. To give a brief picture, the areas include:

  1. International Scholarship for Brilliant Girls: Young, well-educated and qualified Afghan women are selected for this scholarship to study abroad with the help of the government. This has been done in partnership with National Institute for International Education Development (NIIED).
  2. Breaking Away from Extremism: International policies that are detrimental to women in Afghanistan are critically analyzed and reported for their potential negative impacts. The report cites,

“Foremost among these is the policy of the Afghan government to negotiate with the Taliban and bring their moderate members into the mainstream of democratic life.”

  1. Community-Based Vocational Trainings for Young Women: To address the 89% gap in female education, the Foundation held classes funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation and facilitated the graduation of up to 416 women. The training sessions were on developing skills in tailoring, knitting, sewing, basket designing, etc.
  2. Literacy for Women’s Empowerment: Community-Based Literacy for Young Women and Literacy Centers for Women are two components of this Project. These included literacy training of more than 1,000 Afghan women and adult girls focusing on reading, writing, numeracy, legal education, health education and civic education
  3. Securing Human Rights Defenders: With the region embroiled in conflict for over a lengthy interval, the Foundation has sought to impart professional knowledge on securing human rights defenders. With funding from the Frontline, International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, two staff members of the Foundation attended a workshop on Safety and Protection for Women Human Rights Defenders in Istanbul in June 2011, wherein they gained a higher understanding on maintaining mental health, assessing risks and increasing capacities to reduce vulnerabilities.
  4. Empowering Girls through Sports: Through physical activities, the women in Afghanistan were taught to function productively under conflict scenarios and find healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Due to promotion of interests, the country saw an increase in female participation of male-centered sports such as boxing.
  5. Computer Education: These included the components of Computer Education, English and Management Training and Civic Awareness and Legal Education. These components were aimed at building technical and management skills, and empowering young minds so as to resist psychological oppression.


Undoubtedly, the role of women empowerment is an important factor of peacebuilding. It is important to note that the UN has accepted the superiority of individual sovereignty over national sovereignty, leading such issues to be underlined by regional organizations such as the Jalal Foundation.

But can we call the NGO as regional organization? The establishment of peace dialogue among women, consistent non-diplomatic efforts to start a peace process dialogue and the overall formal nature of the organization gives it a similar look to what the UN has envisioned. Its mediation process has led to a cultural restructuring of freedom among women, and has empowered many poverty-stricken households to break from the cycle and uphold their rights.

While the peace process goes on, it is imperative to note the silent participation of women through protests of their absence- a highly integral movement in the history of the region.

Thus, through my paper, do I present the case study of this NGO with regards to its grass-roots and middle-out approach to peacebuilding.

Thank you for reading.



  1. Jalal Foundation, “5-year report (2006-2011): 5 years of transforming Afghan women’s lives”, pdf format.
  2. United States Institute of Peace, 2020, “Afghanistan Peace Process”, org
  3. Devi, Bula, The Hindu, “Afghanistan: ‘The state of women’s rights is still a concern”, September 13, 2010.
  4. Farahi et. Al, Special Report, November 2020, United States Institute of Peace, “Pathways for Post-Peace Development in Afghanistan”.
  5. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), 2016, “Regional Organizations in Conflict Mediation: Lessons of Experience and Cooperation with the United Nations”, pdf format.


About the Writer:
Hameeda Syed is currently pursuing her Masters in Conflict Analysis and Peacebuilding at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She has worked as a journalist for close to two years in Kashmir and in Delhi. Having graduated from Psychology, she has also spearheaded two-month online Zoom sessions imparting Mental Health to young Kashmiris. Her areas of interest include conflict analysis, mental well-being and building community-based informal spaces to re-invigorate youth. She is currently a Project Coordinator at Afghanistan-based women led NGO, The Jalal Foundation.