For A Peaceful Future
For almost ten years, the overriding focus in Afghanistan has been on how to defeat the Taliban. While the military campaign still remains the top priority for NATO countries and the Afghan government, they have now also started to say there is a need for ‘reconciliation’ to bring in those Taliban willing to give up fighting. But their current approach isn’t working.
We believe we need a fresh approach. An approach that includes Afghans of all backgrounds in the peace and reconciliation process, not just the ruling elite, former warlords and leaders of the armed opposition groups. An approach that puts the fundamental rights of all Afghan women, men and children at the heart of any political process to end the conflict.
Fresh: guaranteeing rights
Finally, after over three decades of fighting in Afghanistan, some of the attention is beginning to focus on a possible future peace. The international community, along with the Afghan government, is now backing a process of ‘reconciliation’. Britain and other countries often describe this as being ‘Afghan-led’.
And so it should be. The process must be shaped and decided by Afghans. But the shaping of any future peace cannot just be confined to the ruling elite and leaders of the armed opposition groups: it has to include Afghans of all backgrounds and regions.
Nor does being ‘Afghan-led’ absolve Afghanistan’s international partners of their responsibility to ensure any peace process is founded on a framework guaranteeing the fundamental rights of all Afghans – women, men and children.
In particular, it has to protect the advances made by Afghan women and girls since 2001. Their rights to education, to healthcare, to being able to work, to move more freely and play their part in public life must be guaranteed in any peace agreement and upheld in practice.
And Afghan women must be equal partners in any process to agree such a settlement in words and practice, just as the United Nations agreed in 2000 through its landmark Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
For the peace process in Afghanistan to be successful, it also has to engage all those with responsibilities in the current conflict. It has to include all main parties to the conflict including NATO countries with troops on the ground. And, importantly, it has to involve Afghanistan’s neighbours, as well as other nations who could use their influence to bring about an inclusive, just and lasting peace.
After over three decades of war, we all have a duty to work together with the people of Afghanistan to achieve an inclusive and lasting peace.
It makes sense.