Towards a Political Settlement in Afghanistan

The Need to Protect Human Rights

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On May 21, 1991, the Secretary General of the United Nations issued a public statement outlining in very broad terms the framework for a political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. This statement reportedly reflects a consensus reached by the five countries involved in aiding various parties to that conflict: the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, all of which have provided assistance to the Islamic resistance fighters known collectively as the mujahidin (defenders of Islam), and the Soviet Union, which has assisted the Afghan government of President Najibullah. The Secretary General's plan calls for a settlement based on an internationally assisted "transitional mechanism." This mechanism would enable the Afghans to hold "free and fair elections, in accord with Afghan traditions," accompanied by a cessation of hostilities and an end to military assistance to all Afghan parties by all external parties.

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