Second Round of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks: AIHRC’s Demands from the Negotiating Parties

Press Release 
January 4, 2021 
Second Round of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks: AIHRC’s Demands from the Negotiating Parties 
We congratulate you for the progress you have made and for finalizing the rules of procedure for the Afghanistan peace negotiations. We eagerly await your return to the negotiation table on January 5th, 2021. We are writing this letter to draw your attention to the need for an urgent ceasefire, the importance of victims’ participation, and the significance of human rights and victims’ rights in the agenda of the talks. This follows our previous letter and engagements as well as relevant public statements.  
The urgent need for a ceasefire:
The ongoing negotiations provide an historic opportunity for an end to war, and for lasting peace in Afghanistan. However, the hope for peace is overshadowed by the continued violence and loss of life and livelihoods.  The violence continues to harm civilians, including women and children, severely impacts public participation in the peace process, discourages public gatherings and active participation of women, media and religious scholars, and is draining public hope for the process. We thus renew our call for a ceasefire and call on you to appoint a joint committee to specifically discuss ceasefire, mechanisms for monitoring of ceasefire, as well as appointing a joint team to investigate any continuing incidents of violence, such as targeted attacks, including those against journalists and human rights defenders. Afghans should not have to wait for full agreement on a political roadmap to enjoy their rights to life, security and fundamental freedoms. 
A victim-centered process: 
The war in Afghanistan has victimized millions of civilians. We have widows, orphans and people with disabilities caused by the conflict in all our communities and villages across Afghanistan. The war has not left any community or area untouched.  Civilians have been harmed and continue to be harmed by suicide attacks, IEDs, targeted attacks, night raids and airstrikes. These victims are the reality of Afghanistan and they have legitimate rights and demands. We are encouraged to hear that both negotiation teams want to pay special attention to victims and their concerns. We once again call on you to agree on a mechanism to bring the victims and their voices to the table. The victims of war want to and deserve to be heard, and to have their pain and suffering acknowledged. Their main demand for ending the atrocities and ensuring they are not repeated needs to be respected by both sides now. 
Addressing victims’ rights help to solidify peace:
In addition to the presence and participation of victims, we urge the inclusion of victims’ rights in the agenda of the negotiations.  Victims will play an important role in reconciliation and healing; acknowledging the challenge of addressing these long-term needs, and the responsibility of the post-settlement state, will help to address the bitterness and pain of the past, and offer the possibility of peace at the community level.
As the national human rights institution, AIHRC strives to protect and promote human rights of all Afghans in every national process. We thus express again our readiness to provide expert advice on human rights as needed to both parties. We will additionally continue to monitor the process and advocate for a peace process centered on the human rights and dignity of all Afghans.