In the name of Almighty Allah
Recommendations of the Afghan civil society at the
“The Hague Conference”
31st March, 2009 The Hague – Netherlands
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to express our warm gratitute and thanks for the inclusion of the NGO community and civil society in Afghanistan. It is a great honor to be part of this important conference and we expect that the presence of civil society remains an ongoing mechanism in the future.
As a result of a broad range of consultations among civil society and the NGO community, we have come up with the following recommendations for the International Conference on Afghanistan in The Hague about strategies for solidifying the peace process, which are grounded on the fundamental principles and values:
1. The concept of “Afghans in the lead” must shift from a mere rhetoric to a genuine principle guiding the strategic discussions on Afghanistan’s future. A broad range of Afghan actors, including civil society, must be part of these discussions.
2. While Afghans support a broad based and inclusive dialog and reconciliation efforts, these processes must be grounded in a non-negotiable position of respect and must be according to the Afghan Constitution and the fundamental values enshrined in it, including respect for human rights, women’s rights, the rule of law and the principles of democratic governance. Democratic principles, for which Afghans have sacrificed their lives and which they championed for the last century, cannot be negotiated away by the Afghan government and the international community under the guise of peace and security.
In the field of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
The Afghan Government and the international community must prioritize and take all necessary measures to minimize civilian casualties and to institutionalize mechanisms of accountability, transparency and systems of reparations for addressing the rights of victims. The Taliban must be equally held accountable for their role in causing civilian damages and casualties.
Human rights issues such as the culture of impunity must be brought to an end through concrete measures including support and political will for the advancement of the transitional justice process and the implementation of rule of law measures. The government of Afghanistan together with the international community should in accordance with the constitution of Afghanistan commit themselves to the values of human rights in Afghanistan without any compromise. More focus should be put on economic, social and cultural rights.
In the field of Women’s Rights
Women must be involved in all dialogues and political processes including negotiations and reconciliation efforts. A mechanism must be created which can ensure that women on sub-national as well as national level have an active political and economic participation.
In the field of Freedom of Expression and Media Rights
The role of an independent and impartial media should be strengthened and promoted in advance of the presidential election through political and financial support, the removal of government influence on the Media Complaints Commission and by ensuring that election monitoring and watchdog groups prioritize freedom of expression and the protection of journalists under threat.
In the field of Aid Effectiveness
The international community must improve coordination within the donor community and take strategic action to ensure that vital resources are committed to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans and to address extreme poverty.
We strongly recommend that the international community takes measures to distinguish humanitarian and development programs from military and security goals.