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Human Rights Council Expresses Grave Concern at All Violations and Abuses of Human Rights in Afghanistan and Stresses the Need for Investigation into Reports of Such Violations by All Parties

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24 محرم, 1443

24 August 2021

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted a resolution on strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights in Afghanistan, in which it expressed grave concern at all violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan and called for full respect for the human rights of all individuals, including women, children and persons belonging to ethnic, religious and other minority groups. The Council stressed the need for transparent and prompt investigation into repots of all violations and abuses committed by all parties to the conflict, and to hold those responsible to account.

The resolution was adopted at the end of a one-day special session of the Human Rights Council on “the serious human rights concerns and situation in Afghanistan”.

In the resolution, adopted without a vote, the Council expressed grave concern at all violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan and called for full respect for the human rights of all individuals, including women, children and persons belonging to ethnic, religious and other minority groups. It strongly urged all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable, and further urged them to respect the right to liberty of movement and freedom to leave the country.

Calling for an immediate ceasefire, and urging all parties to cease violence and to refrain from any action that undermined the rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals in Afghanistan or violated international humanitarian law, the Council urged the international community, including donors and international humanitarian actors, to provide adequate urgent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and major refugee-hosting countries, including with regard to the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines in order to expedite the inoculation of Afghan refugees against the disease. The Council stressed the need for transparent and prompt investigation into reports of all violations and abuses of human right and international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict, and to hold those responsible to account.

The Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to present to the Human Rights Council, at its forty-eighth session, an oral update on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, and to present to the Council, at its forty-ninth session, a comprehensive written report, focusing on, inter alia, accountability for all perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in the conflict, to be followed by an interactive dialogue.

Pakistan introduced the draft resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Afghanistan spoke as a country concerned.

Speaking in general statements or in statements before or after the vote were Mexico, China, Russian Federation and Austria on behalf of the European Union.

At the beginning of the afternoon meeting, the Council concluded its discussion, which started in the morning meeting.

Speakers noted that in recent weeks, atrocities by the Taliban had escalated, restricting women’s ability to work. An international, independent monitoring and accounting mechanism had to be created to ensure that all violations and crimes were documented – this was the bare minimum of what the Council should do. Yet the tabled resolution failed to even do that and was more of an insult to the Afghan people than a response to the crisis. Before today, the Council had never held a single special session on Afghanistan and had never adopted a single resolution condemning the Taliban. The fact that the proposed resolution did not even mention the Taliban was unacceptable. The subdued response of the international community was condemned by speakers, who noted that giving the Taliban the benefit of the doubt was a recipe for disaster. The United Nations community had abandoned Afghan women human rights defenders – they felt betrayed, and they were right. Now was not the moment to leave Afghanistan and its people behind.

Speaking in the discussion was Timor-Leste. The following civil society organizations also took the floor: Human Rights Watch, Ingenieurs du Monde, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Humanist and Ethical Union, World Organization Against Torture, Amnesty International, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Alliance Defending Freedom, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Vision International, EMERGENCY – Life Support for Civilian War Victims, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Institute for NGO Research, and Program in International Human Rights Law.

This was the thirty-first special session of the Human Rights Council.

The forty-eighth regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 13 September to 8 October 2021.

Resolution on Strengthening the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Afghanistan

In the resolution on strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights in Afghanistan (A/HRC/S-31/L.1), adopted as orally revised and without a vote, the Council expressed grave concern at all violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan and called for full respect for the human rights of all individuals in Afghanistan, including women, children and persons belonging to ethnic, religious and other minority groups. The Council strongly urged all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable, and further urged them to respect the right to liberty of movement and freedom to leave the country. Calling for an immediate ceasefire, and urging all parties to cease violence and to refrain from any action that undermined the rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals in Afghanistan or violates international humanitarian law , the Council urged the international community, including donors and international humanitarian actors, to provide adequate urgent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and major refugee-hosting countries, including with regard to the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines in order to expedite the inoculation of Afghan refugees against the disease.

By the resolution, the Council stresses the need for transparent and prompt investigation into reports of all violations and abuses of human right and international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict, and to hold those responsible to account. The Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to present to the Human Rights Council, at its forty-eighth session, an oral update on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, and to present to the Council, at its forty-ninth session, a comprehensive written report, focusing on, inter alia, accountability for all perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in the conflict, to be followed by an interactive dialogue, deciding to remain seized of the matter.

Discussion

Speakers noted that in recent weeks, atrocities by the Taliban had escalated, restricting women’s ability to work. An international, independent monitoring and accounting mechanism had to be created to ensure that all violations and crimes were documented – this was the bare minimum of what the Council should do. Yet the tabled resolution failed to even do that and was more of an insult to the Afghan people than a response to the crisis. Before today, the Council had never held a single special session on Afghanistan and had never adopted a single resolution condemning the Taliban. The fact that the proposed resolution did not even mention the Taliban was unacceptable. The subdued response of the international community was condemned by speakers, who noted that giving the Taliban the benefit of the doubt was a recipe for disaster. The international community must act, otherwise vulnerable groups would be targeted for extensive human rights violations by the Taliban. Immediate and safe evacuation must be guaranteed for all Afghans who needed it. Systematic attacks and killings of human rights defenders were rampant even before the Taliban offensive – their lives were hanging by a thread.

States were urged to keep their borders open to all Afghans, and immediately bar forced returns to Afghanistan, ensuring respect for the principle of non-refoulement. Human rights defenders had fought for the human rights of all Afghanis for years – today States must not fail them. The world was watching this avoidable tragedy in horror; decisive action could not wait. Speakers highlighted that the Taliban had unlawfully taken over the country by force. The Taliban must be judged by their actions: reports of horrific abuses by the Taliban continued to emerge amid desperate scenes at Kabul airport. The Council’s credibility hinged on its ability to take swift and concrete action. Religious minority communities were already living in persecution and were now in immediate danger – countries must ensure they were able to leave the country, regardless of their administrative status. The United Nations community had abandoned Afghan women human rights defenders – they felt betrayed, and they were right. Now was not the moment to leave Afghanistan and its people behind.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/08/le-conseil-conclut-sa-session-extraordinaire-sur-lafghanistan-en

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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