AIHRC calls for inclusion as a guiding principle in peace talks

Press release

September 12, 2020

AIHRC calls for inclusion as a guiding principle in peace talks

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) welcomes the start of the intra-Afghan peace talks between the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. These talks are a unique opportunity to end the war and suffering in the country.

AIHRC encourages the parties to agree on a set of principles to guide the negotiations.

‘An initial indicator of success in the talks would be for the parties to identify what we as Afghans have in common in a set of guiding principles. This will build confidence among the negotiators on both sides. I hope that there will be agreement that the main outcomes of the peace process should durable peace in which all Afghans enjoy dignified lives and expansion of opportunities”, said the Commission’s Chairperson, Shaharzad Akbar.

While it is for the negotiating teams to decide on the principles, AIHRC suggests that the following issues be among those considered:

  • The negotiations should recognize and reflect the diversity of Afghanistan and encourage mutual respect throughout society, restore the dignity of those harmed, and advance peace based on a mutual acknowledgement of the country’s past, and a shared vision for a better future.
  • Recognition of the expressed wishes of victims and the general population should be at the heart of the deliberations; victims’ voices  must be heard, their suffering acknowledged, and their humanitarian needs addressed.
  • Fundamental human rights for all should be recognized and preserved. Recovery will depend on reconciliation and development at the national and community level. The right to justice must be preserved for serious crimes that targeted civilians, including reparations for victims. Efforts should be made towards inclusive policies and institutions that are equitable. Protecting the lives and the personal integrity of civilians is the first step towards the satisfaction of their other rights. In the context of a peace agreement, Afghanistan should explore a range of measures to obtain truly victim-centered justice.
  • As the talks begin, AIHRC emphasizes, as a principle, the importance of inclusivity and broad and meaningful public participation in the process.

In June 2020, the AIHRC proposed four mechanisms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness and effectiveness. Reiterating its previous suggestions, the Commission, again urges the Government and the Taliban to endorse the suggested mechanisms and ensure a process that engages victims directly, enjoys greater public legitimacy, and represents the concerns and aspirations of all Afghans.

The four victims inclusion mechanisms are as follows:

  • Victims, from across the country, should be selected to speak directly to the parties about their experience in the conflict;
  • AIHRC recommends that the parties appoint a sub-committee (separately or jointly) to meet at regular intervals with a diverse reference group comprised of civil society and human rights activists who would be selected from civil society through an open and fair process of consultation; 
  • Members of civil society, other independent entities and experts should be encouraged to submit written proposals on issues identified by the parties - who may also find it useful to invite experts to present specific ideas in person or to respond to questions;
  • After the talks have progressed, a national victims’ Consultative Jirga should be held to discuss issues of victims, justice, and reconciliation. The jirga could also be used to explain some of the initial outcomes of the talks and to receive feedback. 

Finally, the AIHRC urges the international community to give its support to a victim-centred peace process, grounded in respect for Afghanistan’s people and Islamic traditions, including through supporting and fully resourcing the mechanisms outlined above.