Statement of the Mission of Afghanistan on Urgent Debate On situation of Women and Girls and in Afghanistan 1st July 2022
First, we would like to thank the every member State and very individual who supported and worked tirelessly to make today’s Urgent Debate possible – this debate is about Afghanistan women’s rights activists and defenders, about each school girl, female teachers, judges, and journalists, and women in general who bravely asking for their rights to be respected. Speaking to you today, we speak for them.
Reports coming out of Afghanistan clearly indicate that situation of human rights, particularly those of women and girls in Afghanistan today is worse than anywhere else in the world. Standing in solidarity with the women and girls who do not have the opportunity to raise their voice to hope for better future is the job of this Council and a measure of its credibility.
When we were struggling to make this debate possible, I was wondering that if not now when will be the time to stand for the very basic human rights of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Today the contrast cannot be more daunting. This every moment that we speak here at the august council, in Kabul the Taliban have called a gathering of 3000 of their members ‘all men and all Talib’ and have assigned another 12000 armed men to guard this gathering. No independent media, no voice of descent and no women. Tomorrow they will issue an edict and will ask for international recognitions, more humanitarian and economic assistance and release of our central banks reserves. Taliban are under the view that the international community has forgotten the people of Afghanistan and their own principles, as they openly and insidiously disregards every obligation, commitment, and promise to uphold the human rights of women and girls.
For the majority of the people of Afghanistan, this situation is not normal, Afghanistan is country of rich culture and diversity. It was and remains a meeting point and microcosm all regional civilizations. The current temporary situation is an affront to our values, customs and the teaching of the holy religion of Islam— that 1.5 billion women and men, minutes few 1000s Taliban and their foreign sympathizers, know and believe. It is not normal or practiced in the majority Muslim states from Morocco to Indonesia, it is certainly not normal under international human rights law. So the marginal attempts to normalize is both impertinent and futile.
The women and girls of Afghanistan have shown us the meaning of courage - they refuse to allow fear to dictate their actions. They have displayed the meaning of strength - they keep going in the face of oppression. They have demonstrated the meaning of hope - they maintain the conviction that better days will come.
Until now, these women and girls have felt that their voices have gone unheard - not only in the country but beyond it, and that their calls to action were met with mere condemnation.
What we are witnessing is just the beginning. The Taliban will stop at nothing in their ruthless drive for control - to which equality, empowerment, and education present the most serious threat.
Systematic violations of the rights of women and girls in one corner of the world is an affront to the entire international community. Let us recall- recognition requires territory, population, government and above all- respect for human rights.
In a country with no National Independent Human Rights Commission, where UNAMA cannot operate as before, where the work of NGOs is severely restricted, where visits by mandate-holders and the OHCHR are limited, meaningful monitoring of human rights on the ground has become impossible.
The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan demands nothing less than a robust monitoring mechanism to collect, consolidate, and analyse evidence of violations, to document and verify information, to identify those responsible to promote accountability and remedies for victims, and to make recommendations for effective prevention of further violations.
We look forward to hearing from women’s rights defenders who will share their vision with the Council, and from States, international organizations, and civil society who have come together to generate an effective response to what can only be called a human rights crisis for women and girls in Afghanistan.
As long as girls and women are valued less, not schooled, and subjected to violence, discrimination, and erasure from public life, the potential to create a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan, where human rights are promoted and protected, will not be realized.
Mr. President, I thank you
Side-event on the Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan & Victims of Terrorism: Accountability to Safeguard the Rights of Victims of Terrorism and Human Rights Defenders
Side-event on the Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan & Victims of Terrorism: Accountability to Safeguard the Rights of Victims of Terrorism and Human Rights Defenders
On the margins of the 47th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council
VIDEO of the event (available until 30 July):
This event is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Geneva, the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations in Geneva, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, and the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and on the situation of human rights defenders. The event will be held on the margins of the 47th session of the Human Rights Council and seeks to address the imperative of accountability as a key component of the response to the ongoing violence, including the direct targeting of women and girls, women human rights defenders, civil society, and the promotion of human rights and the rights of victims and survivors of terrorism.
This event aims to address the linkages between the direct targeting of women and girls, women human rights defenders, civil society, and the overarching need to ensure the promotion and protection of their human rights, including as victims of terrorism. The event will bring focused attention to the scale and causalities of ongoing human rights violations in Afghanistan, including the grave impact of terrorism and the most recent incidents targeting right defenders, media workers, health workers, deminers, judges, civil servants, girls attending school and a maternity ward. The event builds upon Afghanistan’s leadership on each of these issues, highlighting the need for more sustained and proactive efforts to ensure accountability for such violations. For example, in 2019, in June in New York, a group of States led by Afghanistan and Spain launched a “Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism” with the aim of bringing additional focus and activity at the United Nations to this topic. Afghanistan also led a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for increased visibility of the rights of victims of terrorism in the work of the Council and its relevant mechanisms. This event will explore how the plight of human rights defenders and civil society is connected to the rights of victims of terrorism and explore new measures and modalities to advance human rights protection in this time of transition, including through the mandate of the Human Rights Council. The event will also highlight the Council’s important role in prevention, monitoring and addressing the situation of human rights violations and facilitating concrete action.
Member States, the United Nations, and Afghan leaders, human rights defenders and experts working at the international, national and local levels will engage in a dialogue to facilitate attention and momentum towards concrete commitments to act on the rights of victims of terrorism, civil society and human rights defenders and achieve accountability among stakeholders on all levels during this critical time.
Victims of terrorism continue to struggle to have their voices heard, have their needs supported and their rights upheld. Victims often feel forgotten and neglected once the 2 immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack fades, which can have profound consequences for them. Few Members States have the resources or the capacity to fulfill the medium and long-term needs required for victims to fully recover, rehabilitate and integrate back into society. Victims can only recover and cope with their trauma through long-term multi-dimensional support, including physical, psychological, social and financial, in order to heal and live with dignity. The primary responsibility to support victims of terrorism and uphold their rights rests with Member States. Since the appointment of the first Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin, the rights of victims of terrorism have been a concern for all holders of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism mandate. All previous Special Rapporteurs and the current office holder have been deeply committed to a human-rights-based approach to victims of terrorism. Efforts have been made to highlight victims of terrorism issues in UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, and Security Council resolutions, findings and recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, as well as other UN and regional sources. For instance, in its resolution 72/165 (2017), the General Assembly established 21 August as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism in order to honor and support the victims and survivors of terrorism and to promote and protect the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The NGO, International Commission of Jurists, has compiled a comprehensive compilation of these relevant past resolutions.
In 2011, a panel discussion focusing exclusively on the human rights of victims of terrorism took place at Human Rights Council. However, to date, no comprehensive instrument solely dedicated to the human rights of victims of terrorism has been adopted. As Special Rapporteur Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin states – “We do that best not only by respecting the dignity and humanity of victims but by ensuring their legal rights are protected. The first step to that end, is defining and making knowledge of their rights available to all victims.
” As such, one of the key expected outcomes will be the presentation and discussion of concrete recommendations to promote engagement of the monitoring of the current human rights situation and accountability, including consideration of how United Nations Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms can support the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s primary efforts on these pressing issues.
Agenda Date: 6 July 2021 Time: 15:00-16:30 (Geneva) | 17:30-19:00 (Kabul)
Welcoming Remarks and Chair
- Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
- H.E. Mr. Nasir Ahmad Andisha. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Geneva
- H.E. Ms. Tine Mørch Smith, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations, Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations in Geneva
- Ms. Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission
Panel Discussion Moderated by Mr. Saman Zarifi, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists
- Dr. Orzala Nemat, Director, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit
- Ms. Metra Mehran, co-Founder of Feminine Perspectives Campaign & women’s empowerment & education advocate
- Mr. Hadi Marifat, Executive Director, Afghanistan Rights and Democracy Organisation
Statements from the “floor”
- Member States, United Nations, civil society are invited to make statements on behalf of their entity at this time.
- Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
- Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
Establishment of a Joint Commission for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, chaired by Professor Danish, the Second Vice-President of Afghanistan
President Ashraf Ghani’s Keynote Address at the 2020 Afghanistan Conference
November 24, 2020
Ladies and Gentleman, Colleagues,
It is an honor to be here, virtually, with all of you.
Let me start with words of heartfelt thanks. Thanks firstly to the government of Finland for your exceptional stewardship of this process.
Let me thank the United Nations, His Excellency Gutteres for joining us today, Ambassador Lyons for co-chairing and Madam Valovaya for making the conference facilities available.
Let me thank the government of Switzerland, Minister. Cassis, you’re your historic and exceptional hospitality.
Mr. Borrell, thank you for honoring us for your presence and for the principled support of the European Union.
A series of principles and values that will guide the world and ensure Afghanistan’s stability and prosperity through the peace process.
Thank you, Vice-President Saleh, Thank you Vice-President Danish, members of the cabinet, the Supreme Court, Parliament, and Minister Arghandiwal and Minister Atmar for you and your colleagues at the two ministries for preparing the work of this conference to which all Afghan officials and stakeholders have been involved.
On behalf of the Afghan people, I would like to thank the international organizations who have worked with us over the years to advance our development agenda, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, the IMF, and the World Bank, and all of the bilateral donors for whom Afghanistan has consistently been among their top priorities, including our foundational partner, the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Denmark, The European Union, Finland, Germany, Japan, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
To the governments of Germany, the United Kingdom, the EU, France and Japan—thank you for partnering with us over the years to host and convene 12 conferences that have been critical to Afghanistan’s trajectory. Thank you, India, for the commitment of over 2 billion dollars during these years.
We are also grateful to our NATO partners for your consistent and principled support, and for standing shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in our shared fight against terrorism. Your continued support has never been more critical and we thank you.
We would like to thank all donor countries and bilateral partners—and particularly, your taxpayers. We pay tribute to your sons and daughters who have made the ultimate sacrifice over these 20 years, and their families.
To the millions of veterans who have served in Afghanistan—we thank you not only for your service to our country, but also for your deep understanding and friendship with the Afghan people.
And most importantly, I would like to thank my fellow Afghan citizens. I thank the brave men and women of our national defense and security forces who put their lives on the line every day to protect our hard-won gains. I thank their families for enduring the pain of loss and separation.
I thank our citizens for their courage in the face of suffering; their sense of hope in the face of uncertainty; and their belief and investment in the democratic republic we have built together as a nation. We are here today to honor your sacrifices with the promise of peace.
مننه کوم چې ماته مو دا فرصت راکړ چی ستاسو اول خادم واوسم.
تشکر ازینکه من و همکارانم را فرصت دادید که به حیث خادمین تان از شما نماینده گی کنم
And I would like to thank the First Lady of Afghanistan and all the women of Afghanistan for making history.
I would like to ask for a moment of silence in honor of victims of conflict, those men and women and children who senselessly been murdered, latest at Kabul University, the center of learning, hope and nurturing of our youth.
[A Moment of silence in honor of victims of conflict]
I hope you receive these words of thanks in the same spirit of sincerity in which I deliver them. We are living in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies of history—the COVID-19 pandemic. We are exceptionally grateful that at a time of such collective suffering and competing domestic priorities—now in the peak of the second wave—your commitment to Afghanistan remains strong.
This conference is the product of a one of the most interactive and collaborative processes to date shared between the government of Afghanistan and our partners.
Our three-pillar approach of peace, state and market-building presented in the second Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework were validated and further enriched through a series of workshops with our partners in a spirit of genuine openness from both sides, to reach common ground. It has set a precedent for collaboration that we would like to maintain and serve as standard for other countries.
The result is a framework that captures our core reform priorities and main development objectives. It is a plan that aligns our strategic principles, actions that are operationally measurable, and indicators that allow us to make fair judgements on progress.
Such a plan is critical in today’s world of turbulence, uncertainty and fast-changing realities. It allows us to look ahead.
I have spent the past several years of my presidency in listening-mode. My colleagues and I have traveled 85 times to the provinces where we have met citizens from all walks of life—men, women, and youth, working in all sectors of government and civil society across cities and villages. Prior to Covid-19, we hosted 5,000 Afghan citizens a month at the presidency in Kabul.
This national dialogue has been a participatory process, where we have understood our people’s expectations and tried to balance them with the realties we are facing today and the resources available to us. And we have also made significant time to include our international partners in this dialogue.
Our aim with this new framework was to distil that vast experience into three pillars that could be understood and effectively acted upon.
What did we hear during those consultations? What is the main priority of the Afghan people?
A demand for peace.
Today, we—the Afghan people, government and the international community—share a vision of a sovereign, unified, democratic Afghanistan at peace with itself, the region and the world, capable of preserving and expanding the gains of the past two decades.
This is not just the ultimate objective of our negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, but more importantly, it is also the ultimate goal of the work we do every day within the halls of government to meet our development objectives.
There are two channels we must simultaneously nurture in order to create peace—one is peace-making and one is peace-building.
In Doha, our negotiation team is working on making peace, and responsibility for ushering the peace-making process forward is now in the hands of the two negotiating teams at the table.
But before the negotiators got to the table, the Afghan government made huge contributions to furthering the peace-making process.
In February 2018, I made an unconditional offer to the Taliban, introducing the question of peace into the national and international dialogue. The Afghan people had not dared to think of peace as a possibility until the unprecedented 3-day ceasefire of June 2018. In 2019, the Loya Jirga on Peace created a framework and a mandate for negotiations, and this August, we hosted another Loya Jirga which allowed our people a say in deciding the future of the 400 contested Taliban prisoners.
Over the past two years, Afghans created a national consensus on the need to achieve an enduring peace via political settlement with the Taliban—a peace that is in line with the values of our Constitution and international standards of human rights.
We have shown commitment, courage and conviction. We have maintained our defensive positions on the battlefield, even in the face of a surge in violence against our people since February. We agreed to the release of over 5,000 Taliban prisoners, some of them guilty of crimes against humanity.
We have made sacrifices over and over again.
Despite our suffering, I want to be very clear that our commitment to negotiations with the Taliban remains firm. Our negotiating team remains steadfast in their commitment to talks in Doha. We must bring an end to the violence that is haunting our lives and robbing our children of the joys of childhood.
We once again repeat the call of His Excellency the Secretary General [of the UN], High Representative Borrell for an immediate ceasefire.
The peace-making process will, inshallah God Willing, result in an agreement on paper.
But peace-building is a multi-dimensional, cross-sectoral, long-term process that will allow us to actually implement the components of any peace agreement on paper.
That is our work. We—as a government, a civil society, and a people—along with you, our international partners—must now focus on implementing components of peace-building. The ANPDF II is a framework that shows us how to peace-build in the context of today’s Afghanistan.
We must create conditions of well-being. We must also create rules of the game, so that we do not find ourselves pulled backwards by vacuums of governance in which destructive forces can thrive, such as corruption, unequal distribution of resources, and internal conflict.
Poverty reduction, and the development of livelihoods, jobs and prosperity, are critical deliverables for sustaining a peace agreement.
Establishing rule of law and security, and providing services that build citizen’s trust in their government, is equally critical for sustaining a peace agreement.
In this way, market-building and state-building are inextricably linked to peace-building.
Our credibility comes from our citizen’s ability to trust their government, and that comes from rule of law. Thus, our state-building deliverables will continue to reform core state functions and institutions systematically, step up the fight against corruption, reform our courts, and make sure that ordinary citizens can exert their constitutional rights with confidence.
But the state alone cannot ensure well-being for our citizens. It needs a dynamic market to provide jobs and opportunities for the 400,000 Afghan youths who enter the labor market each year. Our market -building approach merges private sector collaboration, with the creation of freedoms, laws, institutions, and values to create predictability needed for markets to emerge and thrive.
Afghanistan’s goal of self-reliance is even more urgent in today’s context of having to do more with less. Amidst a pandemic, insecurity, and uncertainty, the critical goal for our market-building agenda will be to map our capitals and capabilities and galvanize them and attract national, regional and international investment.
And though that will be a great challenge, the pay-offs for Afghanistan and our people will be immense. We should not underestimate the exponential value of the assets that we have and the potential, if managed properly and strategically, to completely transform our market capital—-those include immense renewable energy sources such as wind, power, solar and water; unmatched reserves of metals and minerals; and huge potential in the sectors of reforestation and sustainable agriculture, and green industry and dynamic cities.
There is a key platform and also a key mechanism for unlocking the potential.
Number one, the key platform is the region in which we are located. If there is any short cut to bringing peace, prosperity and stability to Afghanistan, it would be through regional connectivity. Central Asia is looking south, and South Asia is looking north, East Asia is looking west and West Asia is looking east. This allows Afghanistan to play the role of a hub and intersection for four main forms of connectivity — transport, energy, industry and trade, and digital.
Regional connectivity is not only a key to our market and state building agenda, with major dividends for all of our neighbours, but also a key to our peace-building agenda. We need to create a strong regional consensus for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. Regional guarantees of the peace agreement would be crucial.
Number 2, the key mechanism for this framework is the national priority program. The NPPs are our tool for implementation, for making the reforms a reality and delivering on the expectations of our citizens.
Our national priority programs link our development priorities to the national budget, are national in scope, and are subject to a 360-degree monitoring and evaluation process.
Our on-going dialogue with you, our partners, is around these NPPs.
I want to go back for a moment to the consultations that informed this framework.
We developed it based on the expectations of the Afghan people. It’s important to note that those expectations are of a changed society—a society that is completely different and totally transformed from the remnants of the broken nation that the Taliban left behind as their legacy in 2001.
Last week, I myself was pleasantly surprised when I read the latest demographic statistics published by our National Statistics and Information Authority. Today, 74.6% of Afghans are under 30 years of age; and a staggering 48.5% are under the age of 15.
Almost half of our entire population has been born and raised in a young democracy. They have overcome the past divisions of older generations and have found unity of voice and purpose in our democracy.
Our youth have embraced freedom of expression to build one of the most free presses in the region; our youth have validated our electoral democracy with their individual votes; our youth have embraced entrepreneurship, education and creativity and taken active part in rebuilding our society. Our youth and women are changing history.
A new Afghanistan has emerged over the past two decades and with it, an entirely new set of expectations from our citizens.
Our vibrant Afghan civil society also has an important role to play here. The government is totally committed to continuing to create an enabling environment for civil society to operate and be part of our policy-making processes, but it must be based on lessons-learned from other countries on the ideal regulation of CSOs and NGOs.
I also would like to remind of the established Afghan forms of civil society—the networks and values that have kept us bound together as a nation for decades and centuries, even in the face of war and deprivation. These are families, households, friendships, and communities. The Ulama are a pillar of our society and one of the strongest voluntary networks in our country. We are not mere individuals; we are linked through these systems of support that keep us united and provide during times of hardship.
And that is why I have come back over the years to listen also to these more traditional forms of civil society, particularly in the provinces.
Because above all, the overreaching expectations of our people is that national unity is preserved and enhanced.
Preservation of our democracy and Constitution,
Accountability and services,
These are the expectations, and thus goals, in front of us.
But given that Afghanistan is a country with very limited, and declining, resources, and we are also in the middle of a war and a pandemic, it will be a huge challenge for us to deliver on these expectations.
The main theme of our development agenda is to meet these new expectations by doing much more with much less, in the face of daunting challenges. We need to deliver with quality, speed and efficiency, and this will require a very open dialogue with you, our partners, to ensure that when and if the context changes, we can adjust.
What is today’s context? What are the main challenges?
First of all, corruption. It’s a huge, systemic problem, on multiple levels.
We’ve made some progress over the past five years—all benchmarks, except for one that requires international cooperation have been met. This is of the current anti-corruption strategy have been met. The anti-corruption commission has been formed. We are working collaboratively on a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy to take us through 2024.
Second, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown us all into a state of global uncertainty. We were forced to back-bench development priorities and reallocate already limited resources to fighting the pandemic here. And we are still in the throes of it—a second wave, and potentially a third, could set us back again and again.
Third is poverty. Though recent figures from the NISA show that poverty has reduced by 7% during the last four years, it’s still a huge challenge that nearly half of Afghans deal with on a daily basis. And it’s further exacerbated by climate change and insecurity. We have had success with some programs, namely the Citizens’ Charter and the national meal program during the COVID-19 pandemic, but poverty will continue to be a cross-cutting goal and a major challenge.
And finally, of course, is conflict and uncertainty. Since February of this year, levels of violence have sky-rocketed across the country. Plans to achieve peace did not materialize as imagined. Suffering and killing continues to plague Afghans on a daily basis. It is unbearable. It is untenable. The uncertainty it has bred is tangible. We as partners need to confront this uncertainty, particularly in the light of a future political settlement with the Taliban. That agreement must be condition-based.
Moving forward, we will have to do more, meet higher expectations, and face challenges, but with much less.
But we know this is possible. We have done it before. We are doing it now. I would like to provide a few illustrations.
On the security front—When international forces reduced from 150,000 in 2011, to below 10,000 today, the ANDSF successfully took over responsibility for security and counter-terrorism operations in 2015. We have held the front line in the global fight against terrorism. We held our provinces. When the Taliban managed to take some districts, we took most of them back quickly.
We continue to scenario plan for multiple situations, and we have continuously pushed back Taliban advances over the past few months in Helmand, Kandahar, Badakhshan, and other parts of the country. Today, the ANDSF are independently carrying out 96% of operations.
On the economic development and regional connectivity front
We initiated dialogue with a range of world-class firms and signed MOUs on renewable energy generation, and investments in transmission lines and mining. The TAPI project will commence construction in Herat province of Afghanistan in 2021. A 1.3 billion USD investment in a 500-megawatt transmission line from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan will complete its first phase again in the southwest and other regional projects are underway.
With our central Asian neighbours, we are pursuing a plan to build railways that link us with Pakistan and India and Iran. The air corridor that started as an idea to get our fruits exported during a shutdown of our borders a few years ago is now connecting us to over 50 foreign export markets. The Port of Chabahar is now fully utilized for Afghanistan’s imports and exports as marked by the delivery of 176,000 tonnes of Indian wheat assistance coming through Zarang, centre of Nimruz province.
On public financial management—We have managed to increase budget performance to the 90th percentile. The process of budget allocation is now focused on needs of the citizens across provinces, and is a reflection of core national priorities.
We are now focusing on replicating self-reliance measures in the sectors of education, urban development, energy and infrastructure. All of these key sectors are low-hanging fruits for increasing efficiency and output relatively quickly by implementing cost-cutting measures and deflating bloated bureaucracies.
We ask you, our international partners, to help us do more with less.
Over the past several years, our population has changed; the capabilities and capacities of our people have developed; our challenges have changed; our access to resources have changed—so, too, the approach to our partnerships must evolve.
Financial resources—aid—will continue to be critical to our growth for the foreseeable future, even as we have balanced that dependency markedly over the past six years by substantially increasing government revenues that now constitutes around 15 percent of the GDP. We are grateful for your continued support and partnership.
Aside from conventional aid pledges, we are also focused on securing forms of financial insurances and guarantees that would help actualize our regional connectivity agenda, particularly in the energy and transport sectors.
But there are so many other ways that you can partner with us that do not require aid money, but instead creativity on how we can collaborate with your intellectual and technological assets; for example, we can leverage the connectivity that technology offers us to partner on internship, mentorship and other educational and knowledge-sharing programs.
We welcome technical assistance and partnerships with international research centres, think tanks, and organizations on data collection and research to better analyse the challenges and think through tested solutions; as well as to help us produce international-standard plans and offer guidance on best practice and lessons-learned.
We have two examples now of working with world-class technical firms—Sasaki, based in Boston, led on designs for our urban renewal programs and this was all done virtually. Siemens has partnered with us on energy production and distribution.
This shows that online communities have become a much more effective form of cooperation in our current context and we encourage more collaborations such as these. And the fields for partnership are endless—education, governance, design, economic development, trade and industry, energy, culture, health and telemedicine.
Lastly, I would like to once again thank you for your collaboration on this framework and the mutually-agreed upon outcomes. The Afghan government’s job now moving forward is to create the processes and deliver the outcomes. Our job now is to lead this agenda and deliver.
What we ask of you is support, technical assistance, as needed, that helps us improve efficiency; and a constructive, collaborative relationship that is focused on the outcomes.
I said at the beginning of my remarks today, that we are living in the midst of a tragic period in our history.
The real test of the strength of our partnership and the virtue of our shared vision is if we are able to avoid an even greater tragedy of our shared history. We must not let history repeat her tragedies here in Afghanistan.
The ultimate result of our work moving forward, and the ultimate benefit of our committed partnership, comes when we move past the war, the poverty, and the pandemic. I am confident that through our combined efforts, we will be able to manifest a positive, prosperous, peaceful future for Afghanistan.
I close by once again expressing my gratitude to you and your fellow countrymen and women for your continued principled commitment, support and your belief in a peaceful Afghanistan.
Communiqué 2020 Afghanistan Conference, 23-24 November Geneva Peace, Prosperity and Self-Reliance
November 24, 2020
The 2020 Afghanistan Conference took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva with participants from 66 countries and 32 international organisations. The Conference was held in a virtual format and it was cohosted by the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Government of Finland and the United Nations. The event took place under extraordinary circumstances, at the beginning of the final four-year cycle of the Transformation Decade, shortly after the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Conference, the participants renewed their long-term commitment to support Afghanistan in seizing this historic opportunity on its path towards peace, prosperity and self-reliance and to continue efforts for the benefit of all Afghans. The participants committed to reconvene to review progress and pledges at a Senior Officials Meeting in 2021 and in a Ministerial Meeting in 2022.
1. We, the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (hereafter called the Afghan Government) and the international community along with other partners underline our commitment to establish a renewed partnership to strengthen a sovereign, unified, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan that is on a path towards prosperity and self-reliance for the benefit of all Afghans. Under this partnership, we welcome the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework II and the Afghanistan Partnership Framework and undertake to be mutually accountable in supporting the efforts of the Afghan people to achieve tangible results in the field of peace-building, state-building and market-building.
2. We acknowledge the widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for lasting peace and an end to the war, and recognize that a sustainable peace can be achieved only through an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process that is internationally supported. We call for earnest efforts by all to realize lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
3. In keeping with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2513, we welcome the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations on September 12, 2020, aiming for an inclusive political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive peace. We further welcome the efforts of all regional and international partners of Afghanistan in this regard and recognize the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and of all other Afghan actors, including the two negotiating teams in facilitating the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations. We acknowledge that significant progress in the peace negotiations in the spirit of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2513 is a key factor for the delisting within the United Nations Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988(2011).
4. We call for an inclusive and meaningful peace process with the participation of women, youth and ethnic, religious and other minorities. We affirm that any political settlement must protect the rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and minorities. It should respect the strong desire of Afghans to achieve durable peace and prosperity, and must respond to the strong desire of Afghans to sustain and build on the economic, social, political and development gains achieved since 2001, including adherence to the rule of law, respect for Afghanistan’s international obligations, and improving inclusive and accountable governance.
5. We underscore the importance of the Afghan Government’s efforts, which the international community is committed to support, to fulfil its commitment to a unified, sovereign, peaceful and democratic Afghanistan. We emphasize the need for a meaningful role for civil society, including the independent media, in this process. While respecting the sovereign right of the Afghan people to decide on the nature of the future political settlement, we underscore that the outcome, as outlined in paragraph four, above, will shape the future of international support and assistance.
6. We highlight that international development assistance and South-South cooperation bear great importance to Afghanistan’s economic and social development. We call on the international community to continue their financial support to Afghanistan, with the aim of helping Afghan people to achieve peace, reconstruction and development at an early date.
7. We acknowledge that security and stability are vital to sustainable development. We express deep concern about the continuing high level of violence and the security situation in Afghanistan, especially the number of civilian casualties and call for an immediate permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, and full respect of International Humanitarian Law.
8. We further express deep concern about the threat posed by terrorism to Afghanistan and the region, express serious concern over the continuing presence of ISIL, Al-Qaida as well as other international terrorist organizations and their affiliated groups in Afghanistan. We condemn in the strongest terms all terrorist activity and all terrorist attacks and reaffirm the importance of ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used by ISIL, Al-Qaida or other international terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country, and that neither the Taliban nor any other Afghan entity, group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any country.
9. We emphasize the importance of supporting the Afghan Government in capacity building, in particular of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) including the Afghan National Police (ANP) in securing their country and in their fight against terrorism.
10. We stress the important role and long-term commitment of the United Nations in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and welcome UNAMA’s ongoing efforts in the implementation of mandated tasks.
11. In the spirit of mutual accountability, we underscore the importance of the Afghan Government’s actions and the commitment from the international community to support the efforts of the Government in fulfilling its commitments to improve governance and the rule of law, including transitional justice as an essential component of the ongoing peace process, budget execution and the fight against corruption throughout the country.
12. We highlight the importance of regional cooperation, with a view to promoting stability and peace, as well as assisting Afghanistan in utilizing its unique geopolitical and geographical position as a land bridge to promote regional cooperation and connectivity, based on transparency, openness and inclusiveness with the aim of enhancing dialogue and collaboration to advance shared goals of economic development across the region.
13. We express concern over the cultivation, production, trade and trafficking of illicit drugs in Afghanistan which continue to pose a threat to peace and stability in the region and beyond, and call upon the Afghan Government and the international community to strengthen efforts to counter this threat through international, regional and sub-regional cooperation.
14. We acknowledge the economic development achieved by Afghanistan with the support of the international community in the past years, notably through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and recall the critical role the private sector, revenue generation and a conducive business climate, that includes the participation of women, will continue to play in this regard. We highlight the need for renewed vigour in implementing economic reforms and undertake to renew our long-term support and assistance to the Afghan people in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
15. We call for all relevant parties to work closely to facilitate the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return, rehabilitation and reintegration of the Afghan refugees and express appreciation to those regional countries, in particular Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, that continue to host them.
16. We further call for continued cooperation between the Afghan Government, international partners, and neighbouring countries to stem irregular migration through enhanced collaborative efforts to fight migrants smuggling and human trafficking networks.
17. We note that humanitarian aid will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future and access of humanitarian actors must be ensured throughout the country in full abidance to humanitarian principles.
18. We recognize the profound challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, and their impact on Afghanistan and the well-being of its citizens, notably women, and express continued readiness to support the Afghan people towards a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable recovery.
19. We look forward to a Senior Officials Meeting in 2021 and a biennial ministerial meeting in 2022 to review progress as Afghanistan is approaching the end of its Transformation Decade.