The active participation of the Afghan civil society at the conference in the Netherlands shows the coordination among Afghan civil society in addressing the current situation in Afghanistan

April 2009

This report has been written by Naim Nazari, the executive coordinator of the Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN)

(Translation of the Dari text)

Afghan civil society organizations such as ASCF, OSI, CSHRN, AHIRC, AWN, and FCCS conducted many meetings with the coordination of ACBAR. As a result of these meetings, a delegation of representatives of civil society was elected to participate in the conference about Afghanistan in The Hague. This delegation had the responsibility to convey the view and the message of the Afghan civil society to the participants of the conference. It had also the task to raise the interest of the international community for supporting the Afghan civil society.

The Afghan civil society delegation consisted of the following members: Mr. Ingenieur Javez, Mr. Nahim Salimi, Ms. Palvasha, Mr. Pascale from ACBAR, Mr. Orzala Asharaf from the Afghan Women Network, and Mr. Malek Sitez from CSHRN collaborating with ACSF and AIHRC.

On Monday 30. of March 2009, the delegation of the Afghan civil society participated in a program in The Hague , organized by the Center for Strategic Studies of Netherlands. In this program, the Afghan delegation discussed the situation in Afghanistan with representatives of civil society of the Netherlands, the parliament, and the government. In this meeting, the Afghan civil society delegation played a very active role besides the international experts. This became evident by the broadcastings of national and international media. Mr. Nahim Salimi focused on the role of civil society and social services, Mrs. Orzala Asharaf on the role of women and Mr. Malek Sitez on human rights and humanitarian law. The presentation of Afghan civil society was warmly accepted.

The message of the Afghan delegation was discussed by international experts, among them Alexander Their from the Peace Institute of the United States, Michael Sample, expert on Afghanistan of Ireland, Bibi Huan Ginkel, researcher of the Strategic Study Center of the Netherlands and Mrs. Orzala Ashraf and Muzadeq, Amnesty International. These experts found the message very interesting and fruitful.

Following, the Afghan delegation answered the questions of the international participants and informed them about the human rights situation in Afghanistan and emphasized the need that the international community should include these issues into their agenda.

The Afghan delegation had also a meeting with the chairpersons and key staff from ICCO, Oxfam, NOVIB, where they talked about joint activities for supporting human rights in Afghanistan.

The delegation equally participated in a media program organized by NOVIB and OXFAM, which had as objective to create awareness among the people of Europe regarding the human rights situation in Afghanistan and to raise interest with the national and international media for supporting civil society in Afghanistan.

On the last day of the program, which was conducted and supported by many human rights organizations, the participants flew kites. The Afghan civil society wrote messages on their kites like: “Security without justice is nonsense”, and “The People of Afghanistan should be of greatest importance for the conference”. A lot of people accepted and appreciated the message of these banners.

On 31. of March, the Afghan delegation participated in the official conference day regarding the situation of Afghanistan , in which the presidents of more than 70 countries participated. The delegation presented the following official message, representing the view of the Afghan civil society:

Respect the values of humanitarian law

•  The Afghan civil society delegation criticized the lack of the respect for the international humanitarian law. The delegation asks the international community to respect the four Geneva Conventions which talk about the decrease of violence against innocent people during conflicts. The Geneva Conventions emphasize that innocent people should not be under violation during the conflict.

The commitment of the Afghan state towards human rights

•  There exists a lack of commitment to human rights values by some persons in key positions in the Afghan government, who say that human rights are nonsense. Therefore, the Afghan delegation requests from the Afghan state and the international community to respect the values of human rights, which are part of the Afghan constitution.

Freedom of expression and citizen rights

•  The Afghan civil society delegation emphasized the value of citizen rights, such as freedom and right to social security. They also emphasized that the freedom of expression has recently been limited. Therefore, they requested that the world pays attention to this issue. Civil and political rights are a big achievement in the Afghanistan state after the fall of the Taliban, so there is an important need to maintain this achievement for the future.

Economic, social and cultural rights

•  The delegation requested that the economic support should be efficient and benefiting for all people of Afghanistan in a fair manner.

The message of the Afghan civil society was very interesting for the international community, especially for the international media, which broadcasted the conference. Besides this conference, the delegation had a lot of meetings with others and played an active role. Members of the delegation met during the conference with the foreign ministries of the Netherlands, Afghanistan, Norway, Hungary, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, the director of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the deputy prime minister of India, the deputy foreign minister of Germany, the foreign minister of Denmark, the representative of the delegation of Canada, the ambassadors of Egypt and the Netherlands and requested them to support the message of the Afghan civil society.

The Afghan delegation could meet with different international organizations such as Amnesty International, the Strategic Study Center of the Netherlands, the International Organization for the Rights of Children, the Committee to Defend Human Rights and other organizations supporting women rights from different countries and organizations in the field of condition of displaced people.

Mr. Kai Eide, the special representative of the UN in Afghanistan, appreciated the active role of the Afghan civil society on behalf of all participants.

The Afghan civil society delegation came back to Afghanistan on the first of April.

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