Afghanistan: Building an inclusive coalition towards sustainable peace

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet concluded her visit to Afghanistan today that Afghanistan should build an inclusive coalition that leverages former government officials, civil society and the media, rather than treating them as part of the problem, in order to jointly This country builds sustainable peace.

On March 10, Bachelet made a brief visit to Kabul. During this time, she met with representatives of the de facto authorities, as well as representatives of civil society, including some prominent female teachers, doctors, journalists, civil servants and NGO staff.

Bachelet noted that the urgency of the situation on the ground was powerfully conveyed by civil society representatives. They implored to sit down with the de facto authorities as partners to help find a way out of this economic, humanitarian and human rights crisis in Afghanistan.

Women’s voice

During the meeting, female representatives expressed the hope to Bachelet that “one day, social justice in Afghanistan will be maintained as we emerge from the ashes of war.”

They pledged to continue to fight injustice, but stressed their need to restore their rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, the right to themselves and their families without fear of reprisal, the right to work and the right to participate.

Female delegates demanded “separation of politics and health“, training and use of female healthcare workers, and investment in healthcare infrastructure. They demanded that de facto authorities ensure protection of female activists and journalists from violence and reprisals, and re-establish mechanisms to prevent and address gender-based violence.

I strongly and unequivocally support their call.” Bachelet said.

Dangerous

Bachelet said that since the Taliban took over on August 15, 2021, Afghanistan has clearly undergone some drastic changes.

Since then, the number of conflict-related casualties has fallen sharply as hostilities have waned. But she said “we are concerned that the humanitarian and economic crisis could take many more lives”.

Today, one in three people in Afghanistan faces emergency or crisis-level food security, limited access to cash, high unemployment and massive displacement. Also, unfortunately, the risk of attacks by ISIL-Khorasan and other groups remains high.

“I believe we can all agree: the prospect of the Afghan people having to endure bombing or starvation, or both, is unacceptable and unconscionable.” Bachelet said.

The stories of mothers selling their children to feed their families are heartbreaking. Even in my brief interactions with civil society, I can see that competencies, experience and ambition are being wasted in Afghanistan as it sinks into deeper despair. Rapid progress is needed in a number of key areas. It’s especially heartbreaking to hear about mothers selling their children in these circumstances.”

Former government officials and members of the security forces should be pardoned

In meetings with the deputy prime minister of the de facto authority and the interior minister, among others, Bachelet stressed the importance of inclusivity to emerge from this crisis.

She noted the importance of granting amnesty to former government officials and members of the security forces involved in the conflict. This is an important step towards reconciliation after years of war. However, reports suggest that house-to-house searches continue, with OHCHR documenting public extrajudicial killings of former officials.

She said attacks on these former officials, including judges, as well as human rights defenders and journalists did continue. While the women protesters and their families who were arbitrarily arrested and detained in January have now been released, their treatment means there are no more public demonstrations of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Bachelet stressed that “civil society activists and leaders, former government employees including judges and prosecutors, and journalists can play a critical role in building a new Afghanistan and ensuring justice for human rights violations and abuses. But only if They can continue to work without fear of arrest, harassment, threats and violence.”

Respect for human rights and sustainable peace

Bachelet pointed out that a society would be better off if human rights were respected and all people in the country were represented, including religious and ethnic minorities, especially those who had historically faced discrimination, marginalization and violence. sustainable and more peaceful.

“It’s critical to have them be part of the solution and not be suppressed as part of the problem.”

Building an inclusive coalition

Bachelet called for an inclusive coalition to be crucial at a time of relative peace in Afghanistan.

“Inclusion is an important prerequisite for reconciliation and preventing future conflicts. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the wise thing to do. Failure to do so could lead to instability in Afghanistan and beyond its borders. Those most vulnerable need Ability to participate in discussions and decisions to address and mitigate risks.”

She said: “I urge de facto authorities to provide maximum space for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to respect the role of independent media and not to use any violence or punishment against those who may be critical. People need channels to express their anger, and they need to go to Help develop solutions.”

Re-establish an independent human rights mechanism

Bachelet also urged the re-establishment of an independent human rights mechanism, like the previous Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, to receive complaints from the public and bring issues to the attention of de facto authorities.

Universal education

She said with schools set to reopen on March 22, she looked forward to seeing the promise of education for all girls and boys fulfilled.

Girls and women need primary, secondary and tertiary education. Such a major step will go a long way in securing Afghanistan’s future.”

International support

Bachelet also noted that urgent response to the catastrophic impact of economic sanctions and asset freezes is also critical.

“I urge the international community to further ease sanctions and unfreeze assets, in addition to the steps already taken, to jumpstart the economy, support development and alleviate unnecessary human suffering.” she said.

“The spirit, tenacity and unquenchable desire of Afghans for the protection of their human rights, and their desire that their children will inherit a peaceful and law-abiding land, is evident. Afghans will determine their future, and we at the United Nations and the international community has a responsibility to support all efforts to promote all human rights for all people in Afghanistan.”

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