(New York) - One year after the signing of the Bonn Agreement, Afghanistan continues to face serious obstacles in protecting human rights and establishing basic security, Human Rights Watch said today.
A 12-page briefing paper, "Afghanistan's Bonn Agreement: A Catalog of Missed Opportunities," released today by Human Rights Watch, analyzes conditions in the country one year after the agreement that formalized the end of the Taliban's rule. The briefing paper outlines a number of areas in which the Afghan government and international actors have missed opportunities to improve security and protect human rights. Human Rights Watch makes several recommendations to international and Afghan actors to help realize key provisions in the agreement.
The Bonn Agreement was signed on December 5, 2001 by representatives of several different anti-Taliban factions and political groups. It established a roadmap and timetable for establishing peace and security, reconstructing the country, reestablishing some key institutions, and protecting human rights. The agreement contains provisions addressing military demobilization and integration, international peacekeeping, and human rights monitoring.
"One year later, the Bonn Agreement still embodies Afghanistan's best chance for putting an end to chronic instability, violence and a history of massive human rights abuses," said Brad Adams, executive director of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch. "Yet many of the agreement's promises have not been fulfilled in the last year. The international community has missed several good opportunities to sideline local military rulers and to better promote security and the protection of human rights."
Human Rights Watch noted that little progress has been made in establishing better security and protection of human rights outside the capital, Kabul. Currently, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the international peacekeeping force for Afghanistan, is only stationed in and around Kabul. The United States and United Kingdom promised recently to deploy small numbers of troops in enclaves in other parts of the nation. Human Rights Watch said that a greater international military presence is needed to establish security throughout the country to protect ordinary Afghans.
Human Rights Watch also noted that no serious efforts have been made to demobilize and integrate Afghanistan's military in the last year. Human Rights Watch called on nations involved in security issues in Afghanistan, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands, to place more emphasis on disarmament and demobilization efforts, and to devote more forces and monitors to the task. Human Rights Watch welcomed President Hamid Karzai's announcement of new plans for demobilization and establishment of a national army and the news that the government of Japan plans to assist in monitoring future disarmament efforts.
Human Rights Watch also urged the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to increase human rights monitors in Afghanistan and publish more reports about human rights conditions within the country.
"Many of the difficulties in the last year in implementing the Bonn Agreement are the result of the disastrous state of Afghanistan's civil and governmental institutions after two decades of war," said Adams. "But Afghanistan's warlords are primarily to blame for sabotaging the agreement. The international community is also at fault for not providing the necessary assistance to those Afghans who are trying to make the agreement a success."
Human Rights Watch said that much had been accomplished in the last year in reestablishing institutions and general reconstruction in Afghanistan, but noted that many Afghans are disillusioned with the lack of political progress. The June loya jirga (grand council), which reappointed President Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan, was marked by threats and abuses by military commanders and warlords.
"Afghanistan is a long way away from meeting conditions for free and fair elections, called for in 2004 by the Bonn Agreement," Adams said. "But there is still time for the Afghan government, with greater help from the international community, to get things on track."
Human Rights Watch made a number of recommendations in the briefing paper, including:
ISAF should be expanded as soon as possible. The United States, EU nations, Iran, Pakistan, Central Asian states, and other nations involved in Afghanistan should assist in all efforts to expand ISAF. The United States and its coalition partners should offer necessary assistance to enable future ISAF expansion, including supplying necessary intelligence, logistical support, and assistance in emergency evacuations. Germany and the Netherlands should take the lead in lobbying other nations to contribute troops to an expanded ISAF when they take command of ISAF in early 2003.
Donors and nations involved in security issues should fully support President Karzai's plans for military demobilization and integration and creation of an Afghan national army.
The United States and other nations with a military presence in Afghanistan should stop arming regional and local military commanders or allow such forces to seize discovered arms caches. All outside states should cease the provision of arms, ammunition, equipment, funds and other material support to regional and local military commanders. All military assistance should go through the Ministry of Defense in Kabul in a coordinated manner.
UNAMA should substantially increase its human rights monitoring presence around the country to act as both a deterrent and to help break Afghanistan's cycle of impunity. UNAMA should create a trust fund for human rights to finance this initiative.
Donors should offer appropriate training, seconding of staff, all necessary financial support, and strong political support to the National Human Rights Commission. The National Human Rights Commission should expand monitoring efforts and issue reports and findings in areas in which it can safely operate.