Afghanistan/UN: Any agreement with Taliban must include women’s rights

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women said Friday that “any agreement reached with the Taliban in Afghanistan should include a clear commitment to respect and protect women’s human rights.” The Committee urged the Afghan government and its international allies “to ensure that women representatives are included in the upcoming peace and development dialogues and negotiations with the Taliban,”
The UN body, which consists of 23 experts on women’s rights, also expressed its deep concern at the exclusion of Afghan women from the high decision-making level of the 28 January London Conference, as well as at “the absence of clear strategies to protect women’s rights in the process of the discussions leading to negotiations with representatives of the Taliban.” The Committee pointed out that there are two Security Council Resolutions which underscore the importance of women’s active participation in all peace-building efforts and recovery.*
“Afghan women, who constitute the majority of the Afghan population, must be full and equal participants in decision-making, at all levels, in the process of peace-building, reconciliation, reconstruction and development of their country,” the Committee said. “Their voices and views, as well as capacities, are fundamental and necessary for the sustainable establishment of a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan, based on the rule of law, democracy, justice, human rights and gender equality.”
The Committee also urged the Afghan government to give special attention to a critical review of all discriminatory laws and provisions, based on the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against the Women (CEDAW). The women’s rights experts drew particular attention to the much-criticized new personal status law of the Shiite minorities, which is especially discriminatory against women.
While welcoming the current commitment and efforts of the government and its international allies to help secure a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future for Afghanistan, the Committee reminded the Afghan authorities of its obligations under the CEDAW Convention, and urged them to modify or repeal the discriminatory provisions in the personal status and other laws.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is the body that monitors the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which has been ratified by 186 States. A total of 104 experts have served as members of the Committee since 1982. The statement on Afghanistan was issued at the end its 45th session in Geneva on Friday.
(*) Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008)

GENEVA (5 February 2010)