Warning over human rights ahead of Tokyo conference on Afghanistan this weekend
Posted: 05 July 2012
‘The rights of women and girls must not be sold out for expedient peace deals with elements of the Taleban and other insurgent groups’ - Horia Mosadiq
Amnesty International has issue a warning over human rights ahead of a major conference on aid to Afghanistan this weekend.
Money earmarked for Afghanistan can make a lasting difference to Afghan people only if it tackles women’s rights, delivers human rights-based security and helps the hundreds of thousands of displaced people left in misery by years of conflict, Amnesty International has said ahead of Sunday’s conference.
The second Tokyo International Donors Conference on 8 July will see 70 international organisations and donors meeting to pledge funding to support sustainable development in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when transfer of security responsibility from US/ISAF forces to the Afghan government and withdrawal of NATO combat troops is set to be completed.
The meeting comes a decade on from the first such gathering in the Japanese capital.
The Afghan government is seeking financial, development and security assistance from the international community - and according to the World Bank, is expected to propose foreign assistance of up to $4 billion in development aid yearly to 2017.
But Amnesty is warning that this comes against the backdrop of slow progress on human rights. While there have been some improvements, including passing of human rights laws, improved rights for women and girls, increased access to education and primary healthcare and the development of a vibrant community of journalists - these gains are at risk, the organisation warned.
Amnesty International Afghanistan Researcher Horia Mosadiq, who is in Toyko and participating in the conference, said:
“This is a critical moment - money is being pledged, now we need confirmation it will be directed to human rights improvements that make a difference to Afghan lives.
“Human rights gains are being increasingly undermined by insecurity and lack of respect for the rule of law, a burgeoning narcotics trade, an inept justice system, poor governance, endemic corruption and systemic poverty.
“As the international military plan their withdrawal, we need guarantees to ensure the needs of half a million Afghans displaced by conflict are addressed, improvements to women’s rights continue, and that Afghan forces have the resources to investigate and compensate for civilian casualties.
“Tokyo participants must commit to credible and quantifiable benchmarks to monitor human rights progress such as freedom of expression and media, women’s political participation, the number of schools open in an area, school attendance, women’s access to healthcare and trends in maternal and infant mortality.
“The Afghan government and its donor partners must make Tokyo the turning point - they must fulfil their promises to the Afghan people and build on the hard-won and fragile human rights gains of the last decade.”
Internally displaced people
In February an Amnesty report documented how, as conflict and insecurity have intensified, the number of displaced Afghans has reached a record half a million. These people are being forced to subsist in dire conditions in urban slums, deprived of their right to adequate housing, food, water, health, and education. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that by the end of 2013 there will be 700,000 internally displaced persons in Afghanistan.
“The burgeoning problem of displacement is a human rights crisis and could lead to greater instability in the otherwise relatively stable urban areas - the Afghan government and its international partners must address this long-neglected issue,” said Horia Mosadiq.
Amnesty is calling for women’s rights and gender equality programmes to receive adequate funding at Tokyo, and for the Afghan government and its international supporters to ensure that Afghan women are both meaningfully represented and have their concerns reflected during reconciliation talks.
“The rights of women and girls must not be sold out for expedient peace deals with elements of the Taleban and other insurgent groups,” said Mosadiq.