Ahead of a donors’ conference on Afghanistan next week, Amnesty International is urging the international community to remain “fully committed” to protecting human rights in the war-torn country and building on its “significant yet fragile human rights gains.”
“Afghanistan is at a critical moment. Even as there is talk of peace, violence continues to surge, claiming hundreds of civilian lives, the protection of human rights is nowhere on the political agenda, and COVID-19 continues to run rampant in a country with one of the weakest health systems in the world,” Omar Waraich, head of South Asia at the London-based human rights watchdog, said in a statement on November 18.
“Now is not the time for international donors to be scaling down or stepping back,” Waraich added.
Representatives of more than 70 countries and international organizations and agencies are set to gather in Geneva on November 23-24 for the Quadrennial Pledging Conference on Afghanistan.
The meeting, co-hosted by the United Nations and the Finnish and Afghan governments, is expected to set development objectives and secure funding commitments for Afghanistan for the period of 2021-2024.
Waraich said international funding has been “crucial to the limited but important progress we have witnessed on human rights in Afghanistan over the past two decades, but much more remains to be done.”
In order to ensure this progress is not reversed, the Geneva conference should maintain a focus on “human rights objectives.”
For its part, the Afghan government must “demonstrate its ongoing commitment to defending human rights, safeguarding freedom of expression, and protecting minority groups,” Waraich said.
Amnesty International is calling on participants at the Geneva conference to set “credible and measurable benchmarks” to monitor human rights progress and commit funding to key areas, including the rights of women and girls, civilian casualties, internally displaced people, human rights defenders, and access to justice.
The conference should also make clear to all parties to the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks in Qatar that human rights are “non-negotiable,” Waraich said.