The advance White House Statement (FACT SHEET: Continued U.S. Support for a Peaceful, Stable Afghanistan. White House, June 25, 2021) on the meeting of Presidents Biden and Ghani of Afghanistan reflected the administration’s attention to the concerns expressed in the letter to the President (Standing in Solidarity with Afghan Women: A Requisite of Transition toward Human Security) from civil society and faith leaders, apparently one of the first calls of attention to the threats to the security of Afghan women resulting from the withdrawal of US troops.
We read, as a commitment to assure women’s security, the statement in the second paragraph regarding “the protection of the rights of all, including women and minorities” as essential to peace. This point is further emphasized in the next to final paragraph, on “achieving a just and durable peace settlement that includes protection for the rights of……women.” The strength of the commitment is evidenced in the significant aid the US has pledged to work toward the conditions that would make such a settlement possible. This pledge follows on the significant amount of aid that private philanthropies have recently made to sustain and advance the social and economic gains achieved by Afghan women over the past 20 years.
Calling attention to the appointment of Jean Arnault as the personal representative of the UN Secretary-General on Afghanistan and regional issues, we see as a sign of the willingness by White House to make use of the peacemaking and security building capacities of the world organization. The civil society and faith leaders’ letter had requested UN Peacekeeping to provide security to the Afghan people during the transitional period of the withdrawal.
It is regrettable that the media reports on the meeting (See, for example, NYTimes: “Biden Says Afghans Must ‘Decide Their Future’ as U.S. Troops Withdraw“) made little or no mention of women’s security, nor of the possibilities for a more effective peace process that lies in the involvement of the United Nations. We hope that readers and members of the Global Campaign for Peace Education who share the hope for a humane peace in Afghanistan will urge the two governments and their own respective leaders to call the international community to their responsibilities as UN member states to protect the human rights of all.