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Tue, Sep

Human rights must be central in peace negotiations, civil society activists say at UN-backed event

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Calling for the views of Afghans and the principles of human rights to be central to any peace negotiations, civil society leaders have outlined their concerns and objectives in Kabul.

At today’s event, the activists, all members of the Afghan People’s Dialogue steering committee, highlighted the latest People’s Dialogue reports, which have been delivered to government officials and to representatives of the Taliban, asking them to consider the needs of the people, including women and youth, in any negotiations.

Mary Akrami, a civil society leader and steering committee member who spoke at the press conference today, said the committee not only supports the demands of Afghans for peace negotiations, but also welcomes the willingness of the parties to the conflict to conduct them.

Ms. Akrami stressed the integral role of women in the peace process. “Without women’s participation, the peace process is incomplete and unacceptable,” she said. “Afghan women should be part of the process from beginning until the end, and women should represent the women of this country, not any faction, group or party.”

Calling for an end to the violence in Afghanistan, Ms. Akrami also stressed the need for a cessation of hostilities, given the dire implications for innocent civilians. “We wish for both parties to take practical steps to reduce civilian casualties and to avoid killing innocent people, such as in the incidents that occurred during the latest days, which are clear violations of international humanitarian law,” she said.

Supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Afghan People’s Dialogue consists of more than one dozen civil society organizations and members from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. The People’s Dialogue steering committee oversees and sponsors public discussions across the country, ensuring that Afghan voices are reflected in sets of province-level recommendations for peace.

Two phases of the People’s Dialogue took place in the last three years, while the third phase is ongoing. To date, more than 6,000 Afghans – men, women and young people – have taken part in the People’s Dialogue in all 34 provinces, including in remote, rural areas.

The findings of the earlier phase of the People’s Dialogue were published in the form of a summary report in June 2014, entitled “Afghan People’s Dialogue on Peace: Building the Foundations for an Inclusive Peace Process.” A national conference held on 15 January 2015 in Kabul provided a chance for Afghan leaders to develop national advocacy strategies as part of the many province-level recommendations.