A Call to Conscience on the Human Rights of the People of Afghanistan

A Call to Conscience on the Human Rights of the People of Afghanistan

Although world publics remained largely uninformed of it, a significant high-level international meeting on the situation in Afghanistan recently took place in Doha. It is to be followed by another after additional fact-finding. The letter below, for which signatures are requested, is addressed to what a group of civil society advocates of the human rights of Afghans call for as the substance of that meeting.

We, the original signers express support for the decisions of this first meeting not to give official recognition to the Taliban, and to maintain a UN presence in the country. We urge you to join us in supporting the requests we put forth here for the forthcoming meeting, especially the participation of Afghan women now living under the Taliban. Once you have read the appended list of edicts issued in the years of Taliban rule, compiled by the US Institute for Peace, you will understand the urgency of their inclusion not only in the next Doha session, but in all such meetings.

We ask all participants in the Global Campaign for Peace Education for your signature and for your support of all efforts to protect the human rights of the Afghan people.  (BAR, May 25, 2023)

Beyond Doha: Supporting Human Rights in Afghanistan

This letter endorses a recent statement issued by a group of women activists and representatives of organizations from all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.  Given the ban on Afghan women working for the UN as well as other NGOs, the alarming number of edicts infringing against the rights of Afghan women, the decision not to grant formal recognition to the De Facto authorities is valid. We trust that ways will be found for the reinstatement those of banned from UN employment, to assure that the voices of women will be heard as the UN and CSOs return to their aid work, and to take the necessary steps to assure the resources so vital to relieving the humanitarian crisis that now grips the country.

Click here to provide an endorsement of this statement created by Afghan NGOs

May 15, 2023

To: Excellencies,

Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations,
Ms. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations,
Ms. Sima Bahous, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women,
Ms. Roza Isakovna OtunbayevaSpecial Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Mr. Ramiz AlakbarovDeputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator,
Markus Potzel, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political),
The Honorable Joseph Biden, President of the United States
Mr. Thomas West, US Special Representative for Afghanistan
Ms. Rina Amiri, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights AmiriR@state.gov
Mr. Josh Dickson, White House Senior Advisor for Public Engagement and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

We are writing to express our full support of the outcomes of the recently concluded high level talks of  Afghanistan Special Envoys in Doha. Moving forward, we believe these are a basis for greater humanitarian assistance and  protection for the human rights of the Afghan people, particularly women.

In support of efforts to include women’s voices in Afghanistan policy planning, we endorse and attach below a recent statement issued by a group of women activists and representatives of organizations from all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.  Given the recent ban on Afghan women working for the UN, the alarming number of edicts infringing against the rights of Afghans and in particular women, the decision not to grant formal recognition to the Taliban defacto authorities is valid. We trust that ways will be found for the reinstatement those of banned from UN employment, to assure that the voices of women will be heard as the UN and CSOs return to their aid work, and to take the necessary steps to assure the resources so vital to relieving the humanitarian crisis that now grips the country.

We hope the points in the statement from activists will guide the work of Special Envoys and the UN representatives who gathered to discuss “the need for a strategic engagement that allows for the stabilization of Afghanistan but also allows for addressing important concerns.” These important concerns include the humanitarian crisis and the crisis concerning the rights of women and girls. As Secretary Guterres mentioned that he will be convening a similar meeting after a round of consultations, we urge the UN to include Afghan women representatives in the next meetings, particularly those women who are currently inside the country and who have been working to support women’s rights and peace.

As international civil society advocates–including leaders of US faith-based organizations–involved in Afghanistan for more than two decades, we endorse the recommendations outlined below and call on our own government and the international community to do more.

We call for UNAMA and other UN bodies to stay in Afghanistan, advocate for women’s fundamental rights and continue their assistance to the people while also paying salaries to Afghan women employees and contractors while still being in dialogue with the De Facto Authorities.

Lastly, we the undersigned add to this comprehensive list of requests that The United States Congress and World Bank must continue their aid to the Afghan people—especially in the form of salaries for teachers and health workers and other professions predominantly occupied by women even in light of the partial bans on girls education and women’s work.


Statement from Women rights activists and civil society representatives in Afghanistan on April 30, 2023

Dear Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, respected Representatives and Special Envoys for Afghanistan, and UN leadership in and out of Afghanistan,

We are an ad hoc group of in-country Afghans promoting dialogue and seeking long-term solutions for Afghanistan. We are comprised of Afghans living and working inside Afghanistan across a range of sectors and roles including human rights defenders, peacebuilders, civil society, humanitarians, media, and the private sector.

As you gather on May 1st and 2nd 2023 to discuss the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, we urge you to explore avenues of engagement and dialogue to resolve the impasse the people of Afghanistan and the international community have been in over the course of the last 19 months.

As you are well aware, Afghans are suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet driven by a weakened economy and a lack of a framework for political dialogue. Whilst humanitarian engagement has been an important necessity, we need the global community to recognize that this is neither sustainable nor optimal for alleviating the human condition in Afghanistan. A principled, pragmatic, and phased approach is needed to ensure the well-being of the Afghan people and to remove the roadblocks holding us back from pursuing the social and economic development of our country.

As such, we urge that you take into consideration the following:

Political track

  • With the recent renewal of the UNAMA mandate, the organization needs to be supported, strengthened, and empowered as the major political entity representative of the international community present inside Afghanistan.
  • International community should work with Afghans inside Afghanistan to develop Afghan solutions to Afghan problems. We encourage the creation of spaces to promote local peace building initiatives and dialogues that already exist, and support them to expand on their work.
  • Wide-range consultation with Afghans living inside Afghanistan including participation in international engagements taking place on Afghanistan.

Aid track

  • Ensure the effective and principled implementation of humanitarian assistance through I/NGOs and UN Agencies with routine monitoring and reevaluation of approach, commitment of timely and effective delivery of aid, and meaningful participation of women both as humanitarians and clients.
  • Flexibility in funding – with the changing nature of humanitarian aid delivery in the country, we urge donors to remain flexible in their support to national organizations, areas of operation, expansion of programing in areas where women can work.
  • Explore alternative modalities of funding including the expansion of development aid and increased support in particular to national organizations and civil society actors –
  • Repurpose and replenish ARTF funding to be fit-for-purpose in the current operational context through supporting locally-led mechanisms for delivery of aid and implementation of development programming.
  • Focus on funding women-led and owned organizations and explore opportunities of funding private sector to develop and expand their initiatives.
  • Support for local media, vocational institutes, cultural heritage preservation and arts programming where women and girls can meaningfully participate.
  • Fund initiatives tackling climate change in Afghanistan before it is too late– the effects of climate change are increasingly evident, putting millions of lives and economic livelihoods at risk.

Economic track

  • While the economy is no longer in freefall and there is evidence of a low-level stabilization, external obstacles continue to have significant detrimental effects on the Afghan economy. We urge for the lifting of sanctions on financial transactions that are crippling an already struggling private sector and leads to over-compliance of the international banking system.
  • Unfreezing of Central Bank of Afghanistan’s assets to improve the banking and liquidity crisis plaguing the country and restore the SWFIT system.
  • Technical support to the Central Bank of Afghanistan in the areas of Anti-Money Laundering, Countering Terrorist Financing, and relevant fiscal policy departments to build confidence in the banking sector and support economic activity.

Diplomatic track

  • In-country diplomatic presence to ensure direct engagement and dialogue without the reliance on intermediaries
  • Establishment of a clear roadmap for international dialogue with the IEA.
  • Launch informal working groups with the IEA on issues of common interests: Terrorism, illicit drugs, irregular migration, preservation of cultural heritage.

As Afghans living and working in Afghanistan, we are advocating on behalf of the 40 million people who remain here – suffering from a multitude of man-made crises. We urge you all to consider them when you meet [this week] to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. The current approach to Afghanistan has only increased the suffering in this country. Our people are innovative, determined, pioneering and resilient – let’s work towards lifting the barriers to our progress.

Sincerely,

 (Afghan Representatives from all 34 provinces)

Kabul, Samangan, Badakhshan, Kapisa, Helmand, Nimroz, Jawzjan, Kandahar , Herat, Farah, Ghor Nangarhar, Bamyan, Die – Kundi, Baglan, Kundoz, Logar, Wardak, Parwan, Khost, Paktika, Paktia, Ghazni, Laghman, Faryab, Badghes, Noristan, Panjshir, Kunar, Takhar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Sar -e-Pul.


The Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, The Interfaith Center of New York
Masuda Sultan, Unfreeze Coalition
Medea Benjamín, CODEPINK
Sunita Viswanath, Hindus for Human Rights
Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service, Global Ambassador
Dr. Tony Jenkins, Global Campaign for Peace Education
Daisy Khan, Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality
Dr. Betty Reardon, International Institute on Peace Education


Click here to provide an endorsement of this statement created by Afghan NGOs
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