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UNforgetting Afghanistan

Observations and tips concerning the limited attention to the human rights situation in Afghanistan

Afghanistan was initially well-placed to receive significant attention, as the enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, Mr. Richard Bennett, took place on the first day of the session. To recall, our summary of States' positions in that discussion is available here.

Unfortunately, later on in the session, few actors referred to Afghanistan, even in some of the most relevant discussions:

  • Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls [thematic report focused on prostitution]: Only addressed by the Special Rapporteur herself, the US and Afghanistan.

  • Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on education [thematic report focused on academic freedom]: Not even the Special Rapporteur addressed Afghanistan. Only its Permanent Mission did.

  • Working Group on discrimination against women and girls [thematic report focused on backlash and stocktaking]: Only addressed by the Working Group, the US, Israel, France and Malaysia.

  • Panel discussion on economic violence against women and girls: No reference to Afghanistan.

  • Panel discussion on human rights economy and women’s rights: Only addressed by Afghanistan itself.

In a modest effort at remedy, let us offer talking points for at least four remaining relevant discussions:

  1. [Today, 1 July] Panel discussion on climate change.

  2. [Tomorrow, 2 July] Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on climate change.

  3. [Tomorrow, 2 July] Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty.

  4. [Monday, 8 July, TBC] Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on racism.

The following talking points on Afghanistan relevant to those topics are quoted from UN sources:

Climate change: “Afghanistan has an almost zero carbon footprint but is the sixth most vulnerable country to climate change and the least prepared to address climate shock. International assistance resources are, unfortunately, decreasing, in part due to competing global demands on diminishing donor resources. The 2024 appeal of some three billion dollars is only 20 per cent funded. Donors would be more assured of the effectiveness of their assistance if the de facto authorities removed restrictions on women working for NGOs and the UN and provided greater transparency on how much revenue they are raising and what it is being spent on.” [SRSG and Head of UNAMA, Briefing to Security Council, 21 June 2024]

Extreme poverty: “Without the benefit of women’s income, families have plunged deeper into poverty. The resulting financial strife, affecting whole families, carries distinct risks to children, including child labour and forced marriage of girls and women. The dependence on male relatives orchestrated by the Taliban’s violation of women’s right to work has particularly devastating effects on unmarried and separated women and girls, widows and women-headed households. Dependent on the benevolence of male relatives, they are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and abandonment. Unsupported women are pushed into extreme poverty, which may include acute food insecurity, contravening their rights to food and health. Those who beg to survive risk arrest for their presence in public spaces without a mahram.” [Report of SR Afghanistan, A/HRC/56/25, paras 31-32]

Racism: “Ethnic and religious minorities are under more pressure. An increase in targeted attacks on the Hazara Shia community during the reporting period, often claimed by Islamic State KP, has reinforced the climate of fear among religious and ethnic minorities. Many feel vulnerable, discriminated against, underrepresented and treated unfairly by the de facto authorities, including in terms of land disputes.” [SR Afghanistan, statement in HRC55, 29 February 2024]


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