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Afghan Women Must Participate Fully in Peace Process: Statement by Global Leaders and Foreign Policy Experts

September 10, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. | September 10, 2020 – Over 100 global leaders and foreign policy experts emphatically state that peace cannot be made on the backs of Afghan women.

The following statement—signed by 26 former presidents and prime ministers, and 34 foreign ministers including 5 former U.S. Secretaries of State—calls for Afghan women’s full participation in the intra-Afghan peace process to “help obtain the long-term security goals we have been working toward for decades.”

It recommends specific measures for the international community to support Afghan women’s involvement in the peace process, including persuading negotiators to preserve equal rights for all citizens as guaranteed by the constitution; conditioning international aid on the preservation of the rights and liberties currently enjoyed by Afghan citizens, especially women’s rights; and establishing monitoring mechanisms to ensure the maintenance of rights.

The statement calls upon “all relevant national, regional and international actors to pursue a peaceful, stable Afghanistan by ensuring women’s full participation in the peace process. After 40 years of conflict, there may finally be an opportunity for peace. The international community has an obligation to assist with ensuring that the peace forged is durable and this opportunity is not squandered.”

The statement was led by Secretary Madeleine Albright and coordinated by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

An Open Letter from World Leaders Calling for Afghan Women’s Meaningful Participation in the Peace Process

We call upon all relevant national, regional and international actors to pursue a peaceful, stable Afghanistan by ensuring women’s full participation in the peace process. After 40 years of conflict, there may finally be an opportunity for peace. The international community has an obligation to assist with ensuring that the peace forged is durable and this opportunity is not squandered.

As global leaders and foreign policy experts, we have seen clear proof that women’s involvement is key to establishing a lasting and sustainable peace. The substantive involvement of women in peace talks makes agreements more likely to be attained and upheld. We have seen evidence of women’s powerful influence in peace processes in recent times, from Colombia to the Philippines. The direct impact women’s participation has on ensuring stability makes their inclusion an international security issue, which the UN Security Council recognized when it adopted the landmark resolution on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325) twenty years ago this fall.

In the peace process underway in Afghanistan, the international community should prioritize women’s meaningful inclusion in order to help obtain the long-term security goals we have been working toward for decades. We have already seen enormous progress in Afghanistan since women have begun to be integrated into society as equal citizens. The Taliban banned girls from schooling and today over 3.5 million girls are enrolled. Women went from being virtually erased under Taliban rule to becoming policewomen, teachers, public officials, mayors and entrepreneurs. In 2019, women accounted for 28% of the Afghan parliament – a proportion higher than 67% of countries tracked by the World Bank. They will not surrender these gains. Peace cannot be made on the backs of Afghan women.

Guaranteeing the preservation of equality, democracy, and inclusivity will promote stability and help to protect future generations from the threat of extremism. Afghanistan, the region, and the world would all be safer as a result.

 

Given the key role of women in ensuring a durable peace, the following measures are necessary:

  • Women need to be party to the negotiations, not just an issue to be discussed.
  • Women must be involved throughout every step of the process.
  • The perspective of women and youth must be reflected in any agreement.

 

To ensure these goals are met, we call on the international community to do the following:

  • Persuade negotiators to preserve equal rights for all its citizens as guaranteed by the Afghan constitution.
  • Condition international aid on the preservation of the rights and liberties currently enjoyed by Afghan citizens, especially women’s rights.
  • Implement legitimate and established monitoring mechanisms for ensuring the maintenance of rights. Ensure these mechanisms are outlined in the peace agreement and that women are part of the development, implementation and monitoring of such mechanisms.

 

An oppressive Afghanistan will not be stable, safe or prosperous. In order to honor the sacrifices and investments that have been made over many years, we must prioritize the future role of women in Afghanistan – which starts with their substantive involvement in the peace process.

 

Signatories

 

Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner of the UN Inquiry on Syria and Former Commissioner-General of UNRWA

María Elena Agüero, Secretary-General of the Club de Madrid

Shamshad Akhtar, Former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates

Madeleine Albright, Former United States Secretary of State

Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, Yemen’s Former Minister for Human Rights, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator

Valerie Amos, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

Mayu Ávila, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador

Lloyd Axworthy, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada

Ali Babacan, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey

Jan Peter Balkenende, Former Prime Minister of The Netherlands

Carol Bellamy, Former Executive Director of UNICEF

Mohamed Benaissa, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco

Catherine Bertini, Former Executive Director of the UN World Food Program

Carl Bildt, Former Prime Minister of Sweden

Julie Bishop, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia

Irina Bokova, Former Director-General of UNESCO

Lakhdar Brahimi, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria and UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway

Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States

Margaret Chan, Former Director-General of the World Health Organization

Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of UNDP

Joe Clark, Former Prime Minister of Canada

Sean Cleary, Chief Director of the Office of the Administrator General of Namibia

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State

Kathleen Cravero, Former UNDP Assistant Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention and Recovery

Staffan de Mistura, Former Under Secretary-General and UN Special Envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria

Isabel de Saint Malo, Former Vice President of Panama

Erik Derycke, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium

Rut Diamint, Chief of Cabinet and Advisor to the Argentine Ministry of Defense

Lamberto Dini, Former Prime Minister of Italy

Paula J. Dobriansky, Former United States Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Alexander Downer, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia

Mikuláš Dzurinda, Former Prime Minister of Slovakia

Jan Eliasson, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden

María Fernanda Espinosa, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Ecuador

Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Joschka Fischer, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Chancellor of Germany

Louise Fréchette, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

Robert Gates, Former United States Secretary of Defense

Rose Gottemoeller, Former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO

Dalia Grybauskaitė, Former President of Lithuania

Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary-General and Former Vice President of Costa Rica

Geeta Rao Gupta, Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF

Stephen Hadley, Former United States National Security Advisor

Chuck Hagel, Former United States Secretary of Defense

Lord William Hague, Former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom

Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland

Ameerah Haq, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support

Stephen J. Harper, Former Prime Minister of Canada

Noeleen Heyzer, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

John Howard, Former Prime Minister of Australia

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Former President of Estonia

Igor Ivanov, Former Foreign Minister of Russia

Atifete Jahjaga , Former President of Kosovo

Angelina Jolie , Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Medhi Jomaa, Former Prime Minister of Tunisia

Ivo Josipović , Former President of Croatia

Marina Kaljurand, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia

John Kerry, Former United States Secretary of State

Rima Khalaf, Former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA

Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations

Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Former President of Poland

Rachel Kyte, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All

Zlatko Lagumdžija , Former Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tzipi Livni, Former Foreign Minister, Vice Prime Minister, and Minister of Justice of Israel

Jessie Rose Mabutas, Former Assistant President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development

Peter MacKay, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Canada

Susana Malcorra, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina

Purnima Mane, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA

Mara Marinaki, EEAS Principal Adviser on Gender and on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

Cindy McCain, Chair of the McCain Institute Board of Trustees

Sir Donald McKinnon, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand

Monica McWilliams, Former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Signatory to the Northern Ireland Good Friday Peace Agreement

David Miliband, Former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom

Laura Chinchilla Miranda, Former President of Costa Rica

Amr Moussa, Former Secretary-General of the Arab League and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt

Marwan al-Muasher, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan

Roza Otunbayeva, Former President of Kyrgyzstan

Ana Palacio, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain

Leon Panetta, Former United States Secretary of Defense

George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece

Colin L. Powell, Former United States Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Former Prime Minister of Denmark and Secretary-General of NATO

Òscar Ribas Reig, Former Prime Minister of Andorra

Condoleezza Rice, Former United States Secretary of State

Malcolm Rifkind, Former Secretary of State for Scotland, Defence Secretary, and Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom

Lord George Robertson, Former NATO Secretary General and UK Defense Secretary

Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland

Fatiha Serour, UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia

Karin Sham Poo, Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF

Natan Sharansky, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and Political Prisoner of the Soviet Union

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia

Gillian Sorensen, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations

Cassam Uteem, Former President of Mauritius

Jozias van Aartsen, Former Mayor of Amsterdam and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Hubert Védrine, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France

Ann Veneman, Former Executive Director of UNICEF

Melanne Verveer, Former United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues

Knut Vollebæk , Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway

Alexandr “Sasha” Vondra, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic

Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Former Prime Minister of Spain

Miomir Žužul, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia

 

 

 

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