Afghanistan: Kabul Declaration on Women’s Rights

WLUML Networkers
Declaration of the Participants of the international conference “Family Law and Women’s Rights in Muslim Countries: Perspective and Lessons Learned”
Afghan Civil society has been in the forefront of women’s rights and human rights defense in Afghanistan throughout the decades of war. Since the new political arena in Afghanistan civil society organizations and institutions have actively lobbied other branches of the government and parliament on several laws concerning the rights of women and children.
These activities included working with the Constitution Commission and lobbying at constitution Loya Jirga, Eradicating violence against women law and Juvenile Justice codes. Taking the opportunity of the forum of today’s conference we declare the following:

We, the participants of the international conference “Family Law Reforms and Women’s Rights in Muslim Countries: Perspective and Lessons Learned”, held on April 6, 2009 in Kabul Afghanistan, support the decision of the government of Afghanistan to review the Shiite Personal Status Law in consultation with the Afghanistan Parliament. The Shiite Personal Status Law must include provisions for the protection and respect of women and children’s human rights, consistent with the Afghanistan Constitution and international commitments and [or obligations] and treaties ratified by Afghanistan.

We believe that while it is important to respect the human rights of all minorities, as enshrined in the Afghanistan Constitution, laws should protect the human rights of all Afghan women and children according to the principles and values stated in the Constitution.

We emphasize on the importance of the family in our society, we believe that:

• The family should establish a lawful and secure space for support and development of each member; therefore the relationships in the family should be centered on mutual respect based on Islamic values.
• Islamic and universal values such as: equity, tolerance, justice and human dignity should be the centre of all human relations in the family.
• The family environment should enable the full participation and enjoyment of rights of all members.

We urge the Ministry of Justice and the Afghanistan Parliament to take this opportunity to:

1. Include gender sensitive legal experts representing civil society in the processes of review and drafting of this law and all other laws concerning rights of the citizens of Afghanistan.

2. Consider the amendment of the Shiite Personal Law Status and other laws in accordance with more inclusive Shariah Jurisprudence corresponding to human rights values enshrined in the Afghan Constitution.

3. Consider the recommendations issued by the ‘Family Law Drafting Committee’ already submitted to the Afghanistan Parliament and the Ministry of Justice, which are the results of wide consultations with civil society and human rights experts.

4. Conduct inclusive, timely and transparent consultations on Shiite Family Law and on all other laws respecting legal democratic procedures.

We strongly urge the international community to continue to engage the government of Afghanistan and the Parliament on the human rights of women and children and to provide support to Afghan civil society advocacy efforts to develop a culture of human rights and promote democratic values.

We urge the wider Afghan civil society to actively engage in efforts to promote and protect the human rights of women and children, to ensure that these rights are guaranteed and codified in all Afghan laws, including the upcoming reform of the Family Law that is part of the civil code, and the Law for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. Civil society groups should also support the implementation of the marriage registration and the new Nikahnama.

06 April, 2009, Kabul - Afghanistan