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Holding The Taliban Accountable: Utilizing International Leverage to Stop Rights Abuses

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Taliban continue to engage with impunity in serious human rights violations against the Afghan people. The Taliban have been particularly active in rolling back the rights of women and girls; erasing them from education, the workplace, and public life; and regulating every aspect of their lives from mandating the burqa to ending driver’s licenses for women. International sources of leverage have not been effectively tapped and have failed to change the Taliban’s behavior.

The upcoming 50th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council provides a critical opportunity to address the dire human rights situation in Afghanistan by identifying the most effective sources of international leverage against the Taliban. Join Afghan women experts and leading policymakers on Afghanistan for a discussion on urgent, concrete recommendations that the international community can deploy to chart a better path for the Afghan people.

Participating experts included Ambassador Adela Raz, Horia Mosadiq, Ambassador Earl Anthony WayneAnnie Pforzheimer, Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Upholding Women’s Rights as Human Rights in Afghanistan: An Urgent Moment for UNAMA Renewal

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Download a summary of recommendations for UNAMA mandate renewal

The UNAMA mandate renewal on March 16, 2022 and the appointment of a new Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan offered a critical opportunity to address the dire human rights situation and enhance protection and security measures for women, girls, and marginalized groups. Afghan women experts and leading policymakers gathered to discuss the urgency of this moment, addressed key areas of concern, and recommended actions for UN and multilateral organizations to ensure international mechanisms remained effective in upholding human rights for women and girls in Afghanistan.

Leading Afghan women experts who briefed the UN included Horia Mosadiq, Fatima Faizi, Najla Ayoubi, and Yalda Royan. Remarks were delivered by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO, H.E. Rosemary DiCarlo, H.E. Alya Al-Thani, H.E. Barbara Woodward, Rina Amiri, Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, and Amb. Melanne Verveer. 

The event was hosted by the Permanent Missions of the United Kingdom and Qatar, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan, with UN Women and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of the United States, Canada, Ireland, France, and Indonesia.

The State of Women’s Rights as Human Rights in Afghanistan

Friday, March 4, 2022

Afghanistan is facing a dire human rights crisis. Since the fall of Kabul in August, the Taliban have threatened basic rights and fundamental freedoms, with women, girls, and civil society among those most affected. Recent reports showed the escalation of extrajudicial killings, targeted attacks on peaceful protesters, the suppression of independent media, and the detention of women’s rights activists, including ethnic and religious minorities.

It is crucial to ensure that international mechanisms are effective in protecting human rights and holding human rights abusers to account. In this expert discussion, leading Afghan women and global human rights advocates shared their recommendations for preserving and advancing women’s rights as human rights in Afghanistan.

Participating experts included Hoda Khamosh, Spozhmai Wardak, Najiba Ayubi, Heather Barr, and Ambassador Roya Rahmani.

A virtual event with U.S. policymakers to debrief the discussions at the Oslo Afghan Talks

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Amid a deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Afghanistan, representatives of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Oslo on January 24 at the invitation of the Norwegian government for a round of meetings that included the Taliban, civil society actors, and Afghan women leaders. Rina Amiri, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights and Maria Longi, Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Asia Bureau, who were part of the U.S. delegation to the talks, held a debrief of their discussions in this virtual event.

Afghanistan’s Education Crisis Under the Taliban: Ensuring Access for Women and Girls

Tuesday, February 8

Download the Event Transcript

Download a summary of recommendations from the panelists

Over the last two decades, Afghan women and girls made tremendous gains in education, making up almost 38 percent of the students in the country by 2018 and increasingly pursuing higher education. In a consequential reversal, the Taliban have severely restricted education for women and girls – barring women from universities, banning girls’ secondary schooling, and preventing even younger girls from attending school in many provinces. Despite claims that schooling will eventually resume, the quality and type of education under their extreme Islamic views remains an open question.

Restoring education for women and girls is an urgent priority in the global response to the crisis in Afghanistan. Leading Afghan women on the frontlines of education shared their top recommendations and innovative models for ensuring a future for Afghan girls’ education.

Participating experts included Shabana Basij-Rasikh, Pashtana Durrani, Deema Hiram, Maria Raheen, and Palwasha Hassan.

Solutions for Addressing the Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan

Thursday, January 20

Read policy recommendations from on humanitarian aid from event.

More than twenty million Afghans are on the brink of famine and the country faces near universal poverty in the next six months. The financial system has collapsed, with healthcare and education soon to follow. Afghan women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately.

This humanitarian emergency demands action. Leading Afghan women and U.S. policymakers discussed strategies for overcoming challenges and ensuring adequate assistance reaches all Afghans.

Participating experts included Rina Amiri, Mahbouba Seraj, Shaharzad Akbar, Muqaddesa Yourish, Maryam Rahmani, Dr. Suraya Dalil, and Palwasha Hassan.

A New Chapter in Afghanistan: Ensuring International Cooperation in Support of Afghan Women & Girls

Thursday, October 21

On the sidelines of the 2021 United Nations Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, this urgent conversation on ensuring international cooperation in response to the crisis in Afghanistan gave specific attention to the plight of Afghan women and girls. Leading Afghan women and policymakers discussed the urgency of this moment, addressed critical questions, and recommended actions for a more cooperative, effective, and inclusive response to the developing situation in Afghanistan.

Participating Afghan women experts included Fawzia Koofi, Naheed Farid, Anisa Shaheed, Mariam Safi, and Asila Wardak. Remarks were delivered by Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, H.E. Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani, H.E. Jacqueline O’Neill, H.E. Mette Knudsen, and Dr. Sima Sami Bahous. 

Standing With Afghan Women: Ensuring Meaningful Inclusion in the Intra-Afghan Peace Talks

Tuesday, July 28

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and Cordaid, a leading Dutch relief and development organization, hosted a high-level virtual discussion on Afghan women’s role in the upcoming intra-Afghan talks. The participants called for national and international officials to ensure Afghan women’s meaningful participation in an inclusive peace process and to preserve Afghan women’s rights. Read the event press release for a summary of their proposals.

Distinguished speakers included the Hon. Madeleine K. Albright, H.E. Staffan de Mistura, Amb. Marriët Schuurman, H.E. Shukria Barakzai, and Nargis Nehan.