GWS Statement on Afghanistan

Sep 03 2021 Posted: 13:09 IST

The US and NATO forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan with no semblance of peace or safety for those who remain. We have watched the ill-fated 20-year US military intervention in Afghanistan, along with the Doha agreement, end in Taliban-reinstated rule. The repeated promises of democracy- building lie in tatters. amidst the fall of the Afghan government. We have watched the chaotic withdrawal of troops and documented civilians culminate in bombings, injuries and fatalities. The eyes of the world are watching, but for how long?

Once the global focus shifts, as it inevitably does, the Taliban will have free reign. Even now, reports are emerging about harassment, threats and murder of dissidents. In addition, religious leaders in Badakhshan and Takhar provinces have been requested to supply the Taliban with lists of girls over the age of 15 and widows under 45 for so-called ‘marriage’ with Taliban fighters.

It has been 43 years since the fighting began in Afghanistan and there is currently conflict between the Taliban and ISIS-K. The people of Afghanistan, once again, have no security, particularly those who aided the US and women, girls and sexual minorities. The violent and patriarchal regime enforced by the Taliban will destroy any positive changes achieved in the country, pushing those still marginalised back into darkness and rendering many of them victims of gender-based violence.

The UN must respond decisively to prevent further atrocities against the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls. We call on the Irish government, now sharing the presidency of the Security Council with India, to lead sustained and comprehensive action. We endorse the following recommendations by Vrinda Narain, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism; Max Bell School of Public Policy, McGill University and board member of Women Living Under Muslim Laws.

These four policy actions for the international community to bring about sustainable peace are guided by Resolution 1820 ‘that underscores the importance of including women as equal participants in the peace process and condemns all forms of gendered violence against civilians in armed conflict’:

1) Calling for an immediate ceasefire to ensure the peace process can proceed in good faith.

2) Ensuring that women’s rights — enshrined in Afghanistan’s Constitution, national legislation and international law — are respected.

3 Insisting that peace negotiations continue with meaningful participation of Afghan women. Currently, there are only four women peace negotiators on the Afghan government’s team and none on the Taliban’s.

4) Lifting sanctions against the Taliban must be conditional on their commitment to uphold women’s rights. The European Union and the United States, currently the largest donors to Afghanistan, must make aid conditional upon women’s rights and their access to education and employment.