The High Commissioner is represented in Afghanistan by the Director of the UNAMA Human Rights Unit. The mandate of UNAMA Human Rights Unit under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2096 (2013) is to "monitor the situation of civilians, to coordinate efforts to ensure their protection, to promote accountability, and to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights."
To this end, the UNAMA Human Rights Unit monitors, analyzes and reports on the human rights situation in Afghanistan and engages in protection, advocacy and capacity building activities. Through regular updates and thematic reports, UNAMA Human Rights Unit provides stakeholders, including the Government, the Afghan people, the international community, civil society and media with a substantive analysis of the human rights situation, raises issues of concern and proposes and advocates for measures to improve promotion and protection of human rights throughout Afghanistan.
Priority Areas of Work
UNAMA Human Rights Unit is pursuing an overall strategy of “embedding human rights in Afghanistan” or “human rights everywhere all the time for everyone” in support of all Afghan people. The UNAMA Human Rights team implements this strategy through targeted research, reporting, advocacy and engagement in strategic partnerships and dialogue with Government, military, international and civil society actors, and communities across Afghanistan in four priority areas: protection of civilians, violence against women, peace and reconciliation and detention.
Protection of Civilians: UNAMA Human Rights Unit undertakes a range of activities aimed at minimizing the impact of the armed conflict on civilians; this includes independent and impartial monitoring, documentation and reporting of incidents involving loss of life or injury to civilians; advocacy activities to strengthen protection of civilians affected by the armed conflict; and initiatives to promote respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and the Afghan Constitution among all parties to the conflict. UNAMA Human Rights Unit systematically documents and releases statements and public reports on protection of civilians and civilian casualties.
In addition, UNAMA Human Rights is participating with other parts of UNAMA and external stakeholders in actively observing the current Afghan government-led and NATO/ISAF process of “Transition” (transfer of lead security responsibilities from international military forces to Afghan security forces). UNAMA Human Rights Unit’s focus is on ensuring that “Transition” does not result in a reduction of protection for civilians, encompasses the broader human security agenda and fully protects women’s rights.
Violence against Women: UNAMA Human Rights Unit’s focus is on combating violence against women and enabling their participation in the public sphere. On 11 December 2012, UNAMA Human Rights Unit released its latest public report documenting harmful traditional practices against women and girls and implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Law (EVAW law) by the Afghan government. The report, based on extensive country-wide research, found that despite some progress in implementing the EVAW law designed to protect Afghan women from violence, application of the landmark law continued to be hampered by “dramatic under reporting” and lack of investigations into most incidents of violence targeting women. The report recommends measures to end such practices. UNAMA Human Rights Unit is engaged in intensive advocacy on the report’s findings and recommendations, monitoring and reporting on implementation of the EVAW law and is supporting provincial departments’ of women’s affairs and women’s NGOs throughout the country.
UNAMA Human Rights Unit also provides technical support to legislative developments (for example the draft law on traditional dispute resolution and regulation on women’s shelters) that affect women and girl’s rights. Human Rights works with Afghan partners to promote and guarantee women’s representation in Government, elections and peace, reconciliation and reintegration processes.
Peace and Reconciliation (Transitional Justice and Impunity): UNAMA Human Rights Unit supports initiatives to mobilize and strengthen women’s and civil society organizations, victims’ groups, the media, Government and the international community to pursue processes aimed at ending impunity. UNAMA Human Rights Unit works with Afghan civil society to strengthen their effective participation in major political dialogues and in the current peace, reconciliation and reintegration process (Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program-APRP).
Detention: UNAMA Human Rights Unit documents and advocates on conflict and non-conflict related detention issues involving Afghan authorities and international military forces. Human Rights is advocating for implementation of recommendations to end widespread arbitrary detention documented in UNAMA's major reports on arbitrary detention. UNAMA Human Rights unit is also monitoring detention in National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Ministry of Justice detention facilities throughout the country and is using findings in advocacy, focusing on treatment and due process rights of detainees.
Together with other parts of UNAMA, Human Rights Unit provides technical assistance to the APRP, the High Peace Council and other relevant actors. The Human Rights Unit aims to integrate human rights in the peace and reconciliation process through promoting the meaningful inclusion of civil society, women’s and victims’ groups in the peace and reintegration process (through facilitation of the Afghan People’s Dialogue on Peace) and through ensuring that issues of justice, accountability (particularly for serious human rights crimes), grievance resolution, vetting and amnesty are addressed in line with Afghan law and the Government’s obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.