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Conference 34 June 2013 Peace for all Afghans 001Brussels, June 3, 2013 - Now that the official peace talks have started, provisionally only with the United States and the Taliban involved, the question is what the people of Afghanistan themselves are expecting from those negotiations, and if and how ordinary Afghans will be involved in the peace process.

 

 

Indeed, after more than three decades of violent conflict, the Afghans are longing for peace, that much is clear. But in order to achieve a sustainable peace the process leading to it has to be inclusive, with full respect of human and women’s rights. It means that Afghans themselves, civil society, should be involved at all stages of the peace process.

 

ENNA organized an international conference in the European Parliament, together with CMI (Crisis Management Initiative from Helsinki ) and  Heinrich Boll Stiftung from Berlin  and  ACBAR (Coordinating Agency for Afghan relief),  precisely to give a voice to those who want to be involved.

 

ENNA invited women and human rights activists and politicians from Afghanistan.

They came to Brussels with their courageous stories, with their optimistic, yet realistic view about the current situation and future prospects. They presented also the latest facts about the growing lack of security, especially for women.

But they all came with a very clear message : with the international military missions coming to an end, do not abandon us, not again. Stay involved in Afghanistan, for many more years, not with the intention to take it over from us,  but rather as mentors of the Afghan people.

They all asked for a continuous support from the EU for the difficult task they want to accomplish, to achieve peace and security in a functioning and stable state that represents their interests.

 

They confirmed that very important achievements have been made with international help, especially in the education and health sectors, in building an infrastructure and in strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights.

But those achievements would be in real danger if the international development resources were to decrease, as member states of the EU might consider. Especially women fear for their rights and for the future of their daughters.

 

A new study presented by Hasina Safi, of the Afghan Women’s Network, made clear that women’s security is rapidly deteriorating in several parts of Afghanistan, freedom of movement has become increasingly restricted, family pressure is growing to remain home. This means that women and girls are deprived of opportunities to empower them, including education and access to services and justice. However, people support the transfer of leadership to the own Afghan security forces and police. But those forces need more training and proper technical equipment.

 

The Afghans at the conference agreed it is up to them, representatives of civil society, to play a central role in preserving the gains that have been made and in making further progress in the country’s reconstruction.

They convinced us that many of them are prepared for this task, truly want to take their future in their own hands, but they need a long term mentorship from the international community.

 

 

Therefore, ENNA emphasizes in the policy recommendations, presented at the conference, that Afghan civil society and the international community are partners in fostering sustainable development for all in a stable Afghanistan.

 

 

Our 5 key recommendations to the European Union are :

-Funding for the peace process should be available to civil society organizations in order to provide a platform for dialogue.

-Support the capacity building of Afghan civil society organisations, as essential monitoring instances of Afghan governance

-Support especially women’s organizations, since they are crucial for a sustainable peace, implement programmes on women’s empowerment, security and rights awareness.

-Monitor the upcoming elections and the process leading to it, provide guidelines and tools for a functioning state.

-Do not forget the economy, work together with the Afghan government on job creation.

 

Meanwhile, the members of ENNA recommend to the Afghan government to engage in peace talks only with partners renouncing violence and respecting the Afghan Constitution. Human and women’s rights are not negotiable at any stage of the peace process. Instead women should be encouraged to participate and take leading positions .

Moreover, the Afghan government should recognize civil society as an important actor in the peace process and in Afghanistan’s long-term development.

 

 Policy_Recommendations_ENNA_ACBAR_-June_2013.pdf

 

ENNA was very pleased with the participation of European Commissioner Piebalgs, who made several important remarks on his future engagement in Afghanistan. He concluded : “We will find a way to help the Afghans, Afghanistan stays on the top of the agenda”.

 

 

SPEECH_Piegbals.docx