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Intra-Afghan talks: AIHRC floats proposals

Intra-Afghan talks: AIHRC floats proposals

Jun 02, 2020 - 13:13

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Afghanistaninfo-icon Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has offered four proposals for the involvement of victims, experts and the public in intra-Afghan peace talks.

The intra-Afghan negotiations will confront difficult issues in relation to victims, justice, recovery and rights. The issues will demand careful consideration, and there are no easy answers or outcomes that should be assumed from the start. 

AIHRC believes peace negotiations should take advantage of Afghanistan’s strong tradition of public input and consultations by formally engaging victims and the broader public. 

It would signal the parties’ awareness of all those who had suffered, the panel said, adding It would also allow new ideas to feed into discussions.

The four proposals would ensure the broader engagement on the difficult issue of conflict victims and human rights abuses.  The AIHRC said if requested by the parties concerned, it could offer models and options for implementation of each proposal.

Worried that the fundamental rights of citizens and lack of attention to them could lead to the conflict recurring, the commission urged the parties to begin to engage on these issues immediately.

1. Victim testimony

A number of victims across the country should be selected to speak directly to the parties about their experience of the conflict. The selection should be done through independent and impartial bodies agreed by the parties, perhaps together with the facilitator.

The purpose of these visits would be to highlight the importance of the victims’ issue for all members of the negotiating parties, and to give a number of representative victims a direct voice in the process.  It would signal to the public that the parties are committed to responding to the suffering of victims.

2. Consultation with reference group

AIHRC wants parties at the negotiating table to appoint a sub-committee (separately or jointly) to meet at regular intervals with a select reference group comprised of civil societyinfo-icon and human rights activists. 

The members would be selected from civil society through a fair process of consultation; they could put proposals to the subcommittee and respond to its questions on specific issues on the agenda, and should consult with their broader networks to offer ideas. 

The subcommittee would not be expected to share confidential information, but could brief generally and inquire on those matters where input and outside perspectives may be useful. Depending on the pace and focus at the table, regular meetings every two or three weeks may be appropriate.

 3. Specific proposals & expertise

Civil society and other independent entities and experts have given significant thought to many of the challenges that the parties will face during negotiations. They should be encouraged to submit written proposals on issues, with specific and practical solutions or policy proposals.

The parties may also find it useful to invite experts to present specific ideas and answer questions the parties are discussing, presumably in the plenary session with both parties together. 

Either party might invite and consult with experts separately, as well.  The facilitator of the process could help arrange expert visits.

 4. Nationwide consultation

When the national context allows post Covid-19), it would be ideal to hold a consultative jirgainfo-icon on issues of victims, justice, and reconciliation.  The jirga is not a decision-making mechanism, rather an opportunity to discuss various aspects of the victim issues.  

While not a replacement for the jirga, the parties should take advantage of existing networks, through civil society or other societal groupings, to invite public input from Afghans from all provinces. 

There may be mechanisms for online submissions or consultations to promote discussion of these difficult issues. Such efforts should ensure that they reach a wide range of individuals and communities that have suffered in the conflict, including those who might not always be heard.

These channels could also be used to explain some of the initial outcomes of talks and to receive feedback. While the parties at the negotiating table may not have the time to drive such consultations, they can help shape them.

The parties’ stated interests and commitment to receiving such public input would also be important. Independent actors in civil society or the private sector could be invited to develop creative consultation models.



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