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UNAMAUnited Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
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 Human Rights
The mandate of UNAMA Human Rights 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, UNAMA Human Rights monitors, analyzes and reports on the human rights situation in Afghanistan and engages in protection, advocacy and capacity building activities. Through regular public updates (weekly code cables and monthly reports) and thematic reports, UNAMA Human Rights 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 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 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 systematically documents and releases statements and public reports on protection of civilians and civilian casualties. (Click here for UNAMA reports on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.)

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’ 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’ focus is on combating violence against women and enabling their participation in the public sphere. On 11 December 2012, UNAMA Human Rights 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 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. (Click here for all UNAMA reports on violence against women)

UNAMA Human Rights 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 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 HR 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).

Together with other parts of UNAMA, Human Rights provides technical assistance to the APRP, the High Peace Council and other relevant actors. Human Rights 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.

Detention: UNAMA Human Rights 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. (Click here for the latest UNAMA report on treatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan custody.) 

Partnering with National Institutions and Civil Society

UNAMA Human Rights works with the following actors to support national institution building and capacity development:

AIHRC (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission): UNAMA HR collaborates with the AIHRC on protection of civilians, violence against women, detention and impunity. UNAMA HR also supports the AIHRC in developing and implementing the National Priority Program for Human Rights and Civic Responsibility as part of Kabul Process.

Ministry of Justice: UNAMA HR provides technical support to the Human Rights Support Unit of the Ministry of Justice, which is working to facilitate comprehensive understanding and mainstreaming of human rights across ministries of the Afghan government.

Judicial and Law Enforcement Actors including Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Supreme Court and National Directorate of Security: UNAMA HR has worked with Afghan judicial and law enforcement actors since 2006 to address arbitrary detention, treatment of detainees/prisoners, violence against women and a range of rule of law concerns.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: UNAMA HR supports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its submissions under the Universal Periodic Review, and the Government in designing an action plan for implementation of UPR recommendations issued by the UN Human Rights Council. UNAMA HR provides technical support to Government committees that oversee drafting of country reports required under Afghanistan’s international treaty body reporting obligations.

Civil Society: UNAMA Human Rights supports and carries out joint activities with civil society organizations throughout Afghanistan and in Kabul. HR also closely monitors the situation of Afghan human rights defenders and takes appropriate action to assist and support them as necessary. 

Secretary-General's latest report 

The UN Secretary-General's quarterly report to the Security Council released on 7 March 2014 provides an update of UNAMA human right activities since 6 December 2013, listed below. For a full copy of the latest report, click here.

III. Human rights 

• In 2013, conflict-related violence killed 2,959 civilians and injured 5,656, a 14 percent increase in total civilian casualties compared with 2012. Anti-government elements were responsible for 2,311 civilian deaths and 4,063 injuries, an increase of 4 per cent compared with 2012. Pro-government forces were responsible for 341 civilian deaths and 615 injuries, a 59 per cent increase compared with 2012. Unattributed ground engagements between anti-government elements and pro-government forces resulted in 160 civilian deaths and 720 injuries, a 64 per cent increase compared with 2012

• In 2013, the United Nations-led Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Children and Armed Conflict documented 1,694 child casualties. A total of 545 children were killed and 1,149 children were injured, an overall increase of 42 per cent compared with 2012

• The Government continued the tracking of civilian casualties through the civilian casualties tracking cell in the Presidential Information Coordination Centre

• To reduce civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war, in December 2013 the International Security Assistance Force established procedures to support the marking and clearance of military installations, including firing ranges

• In 2013, the Taliban reported, in its regular monthly statements, 277 incidents of civilian casualties resulting from operations of pro-government forces. UNAMA was able to verify 174 of these incidents through its reporting on conflict-related violence

• The United Nations continued extensive monitoring and advocacy efforts to strengthen compliance with international law and UNAMA recorded a 39 per cent decrease in civilian casualties from pressure-plated improvised explosive devices in 2013 • Following the issuance of presidential decree No. 169 to address allegations of the torture and ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees, the Ministry of the Interior, the National Directorate of Security and the Attorney-General’s Office strengthened the training of their personnel, including the introduction of human rights modules at both the Directorate and Afghan National Police academies

• In 2013, UNAMA published four public reports: two on the protection of civilians, one on the implementation of the law on the elimination of violence against women and one on the treatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan custody. In conjunction with the reports, UNAMA carried out advocacy activities with various stakeholders and the media to raise awareness among the Afghan population

• The Government continued efforts to implement the action plan to protect children from the impact of the conflict and to prevent underage recruitment by armed forces. In May 2013, the United Nations submitted an official response to the Government’s annual progress report and assisted in the development of a 15-point plan to expedite the implementation of the action plan by the Government

• On 3 October 2013, the United Nations and UNAMA organized the “Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Security”, under the aegis of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). The event was focused on the theme “Political participation is everyone’s right: women as voters and candidates” • In 2013, both the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and UNAMA issued reports that addressed the implementation of the law on the elimination of violence against women. The reports noted progress and continuing gaps in the enforcement of the law by police, prosecutors and courts. The implementation of the law was discussed at the special meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board held in January 2014

• Commissions for the elimination of violence against women have been established in 32 provinces, in accordance with the provisions of the law on the elimination of violence against women, and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs worked with local authorities in 11 provinces to improve the implementation of the law, with United Nations technical support

• Beginning on 25 November 2013, as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, an initiative to raise awareness on ending violence against women, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled conducted, with United Nations support, a nationwide campaign on early and child marriage

• A coordinated multisectoral response to genderbased violence continued to be developed in 2013. The integration of professional assistance and referral services into the health sector has been initiated by the Ministry of Public Health, with support from the United Nations Population Fund

• In February 2013, civil society groups, supported by UNAMA, launched the second phase of the Afghan People’s Dialogue on Peace, which is aimed at supporting inclusive dialogue to produce local road maps for peace. By the end of 2013, the process had facilitated 187 focus group discussions with 4,572 people representing a broad social spectrum

• On 24 July 2013, the women’s committee of the High Peace Council held a conference for gender focal points from all ministries and directorates to discuss women’s political participation and their role in promoting the peace process

• In December 2013, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) released a report, entitled “Like a bird with broken wings: Afghan Women Oral History, 1978-2008”, on its Afghan Women Oral History initiative, covering 30 years of conflict. The testimonies of Afghan women contained in the report aim to provide a “voice to those denied a place in official history” and share their personal experiences, whether as victims or witnesses, to contribute to reconciliation and change

• In December 2012, the Government of Afghanistan, with United Nations support, successfully requested a 10-year extension of the time frame for meeting its obligations under article 5 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. The implementation of a 10-year action plan commenced in April 2013 to remove all known remaining landmine contamination by 2023

• On 10 July 2013, Afghanistan presented its combined initial and second periodic reports on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Government and civil society delegations, with
United Nations support, presented their findings and responded to the queries of the Convention’s Committee

• In November 2013, the Government submitted its second report to the universal periodic review mechanism of the Human Rights Council. The report addressed the Government’s progress in implementing the 117 recommendations made by the Council in 2009

• In December 2013, the Ministry of Justice, with United Nations support, conducted consultations with government ministries and institutions to prioritize the implementation of its commitments under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

• Following the five-year review of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions on 18 November 2013, the Subcommittee on Accreditation decided to defer the re-accreditation of the Commission until the Committee’s second session of 2014 to allow the Commission to address concerns raised regarding its appointment processes, gender staffing ratio and financing

• In 2013, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission published reports on violence against women, the situation of children, rape and honour killing, citizens’ access to justice and the conditions of the elderly in Afghanistan

• In 2013, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, with United Nations support, continued to enhance its efforts to monitor and address child rights violations. Following training for the Child Rights Unit undertaken in the first half of 2013, the number of child rights violations recorded by the Commission rose from 21 in the second quarter of 2013 to more than 200 by the end of 2013

KEY LINKS

UNAMA reports on the protection of civilians in armed conflict

UNAMA reports on women's rights

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights - Afghanistan pages

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict