United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed a petition, signed by nearly a quarter of a million Afghan women, calling for peace and a cease-fire in the country.
In a statement issued on Friday, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the UN chief had received the petition amidst last week’s string of terrorist attacks against civilian targets in three Afghan provinces, killing over 50 civilians.
“Afghans themselves demand an end to such violence,” the spokesperson said.
“The Secretary-General welcomes this peace campaign, which is in the spirit of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), and is another indication of the strong demands of the Afghan people for peace in their country,” the spokesperson continued, referring to the UN resolution that calls for greater participation of women in public life and political processes as an essential means to build peace, democracy and gender equality in a country recovering from armed conflict.
The women’s committee of the High Peace Council (HPC), an Afghan body leading the country’s peace efforts, had collected the signatures from most of the country’s 34 provinces in January and February.
In his briefing to the Security Council last week, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Ján Kubiš, commended the organizers of the petition, as well as the petitioners, “who have raised their voice – the voices of the majority of Afghans.”
“These women demand only the chance for a secure future for their families. It is a message of hope and resilience amidst the misery and death inflicted by terrorism, extremism, trans-national criminal networks, and local power-holders,” Mr. Kubiš said.
The petition had been received earlier this month by Mr. Ban’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, in the capital, Kabul. It was then shared with UN Headquarters in New York.
In accepting the petition in Kabul, Mr. Haysom had said that, “While I assure you that we in the United Nations will give serious consideration to this petition – it is also a hope that the leaders of Afghanistan and the leaders of the armed opposition groups will also hear the women through this petition.”
While submitting the petition, an HPC member and a Member of Parliament, Sediqa Balkhi, had called on the 15-member Security Council to do more “to fight against extremism and violence and bring the regional countries more towards cooperation for peace [in Afghanistan].”
The HPC said it presented the petition to President Hamid Karzai; the country's main armed opposition group, the Taliban; and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is a grouping of 56 Islamic states promoting Muslim solidarity in economic, social, and political affairs.