Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Afghan law worries Nato chief

Nato’s head says it could be difficult to persuade European countries to contribute more troops to Afghanistan because of controversial new laws.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the planned laws violated human rights and were unjustifiable when Nato troops were dying to protect universal values.

Critics say the law limits the rights of women from the Shia minority and authorises rape within marriage.

Aides to President Karzai insist the law provides more protection for women.

Permission

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told the BBC’s Mark Mardell: “We are there to defend universal values and when I see, at the moment, a law threatening to come into effect which fundamentally violates women’s rights and human rights, that worries me.”

He added: “I have a problem to explain and President Karzai knows this, because I discussed it with him. I have a problem to explain to a critical public audience in Europe, be it the UK or elsewhere, why I’m sending the guys to the Hindu Kush.”

France’s Human Rights Minister Rama Yade also expressed her “sharp concern” at the law, saying it “recalls the darkest hours of Afghanistan’s history”.

The UN earlier said it was seriously concerned about the potential impact of the law.

Human rights activists say it reverses many of the freedoms won by Afghan women in the seven years since the Taleban were driven from power.

They say it removes the right of women to refuse their husbands sex, unless they are ill.

Women will also need to get permission from their husbands if they want to leave their homes, unless there is an emergency.

The law covers members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority, who make up 10% of the population.

It was rushed through parliament in February and was backed by influential Shia clerics and Shia political parties.

Defenders of the law say it is an improvement on the customary laws which normally decide family matters.

A separate family law for the Sunni majority is now also being drawn up.

Nato is holding its annual summit in Strasbourg.

President Obama is to present his new Afghan strategy to his allies.

Ahead of the meeting, a number of leading charities warned that an increase in military deployments in Afghanistan could lead to a rise in civilian casualties.

They called on Nato leaders gathering in Strasbourg to do more to protect the population.

Last year more than 2,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan.

In a report titled Caught in the Conflict, 11 aid groups including Oxfam, ActionAid and Care called on Nato to change the way it operates.

“The troop surge will fail to achieve greater overall security and stability unless the military prioritise the protection of Afghan civilians,” Matt Waldman, head of policy for Oxfam International on Afghanistan, said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

International Conference on Afghanistan 2009

A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context

Under the auspices of the United Nations and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a high-level conference on the future of Afghanistan will be held in The Hague on 31 March 2009.

Left to right: Maxime Verhagen, Ban ki moon, President Karzai and Prime Minister Balkenende. Photo: Cynthia Boll

Left to right: the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Maxime Verhagen, Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Building on the achievements of earlier conferences held in Bonn, London and Paris, this conference reaffirms the solid and long-term political commitment of the international community in assisting the Afghan government in building a better future for Afghanistan and its people.

The attendees will include delegates from countries that border Afghanistan or are part of the wider region, countries that are part of the International Security Assistance Force and other countries and organisations that are contributing to reconstruction in Afghanistan. The conference provides a platform for political discussion on the current state of affairs and future perspectives, acknowledging the importance of regional aspects of these issues.

The conference will be co-chaired by Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Kai Eide, Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Ranghin Dadfar Spanta and the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen.

For further information please visit the official website, which will be opened on Monday march 16.Welcoming remarks by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende

Conference Details:

1. Welcoming remarks by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
2. Statement by the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai
3. Statement by Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon
4. Statement by Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta
5. Statement by UN Special representative for Afghanistan Kai Eide
6. Read the final declaration.

Please check special Conference on Afghanistan convened under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization :

1. Foreign Minister Spanta addresses Special SCO Meeting on Afghanistan

2. Declaration of the special Conference on Afghanistan convened under the
auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, 27 March 2009

Moscow Special Conference on Afghanistan

The participants in the Conference welcomed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) initiative to organize this forum, expressed their satisfaction with results and noted that the outcome was in line with the efforts of the international community, namely the United Nations, North-Atlantic Treaty Organization, European Union, Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Organization of Islamic Conference and Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, other international and regional organizations and individual states to counteract threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crimes.

The participants also

Recognized the interconnected nature of the challenges in Afghanistan and the region and underscored the importance of sustained international efforts to achieve a stable, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan and stressed that such assistance should be comprehensive under the leadership of Afghanistan and the central role of the UN in coordinating international assistance and based on strict adherence of the UN Charter;

Emphasized the need for sustained international support to strengthen Afghan security institutions to effectively combat the scourge of terrorism and production and trafficking of narcotics;

Acknowledged the important role of the International Security Assistance Force and coalition forces to help the Government of Afghanistan provide security to Afghanistan and, in that regard, welcomed the measures adopted by international forces, in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan to ensure closer coordination of operations with Afghan authorities, which inter alia is of special significance for increasing effectiveness of counteracting illegal production and drug trafficking;

Acknowledged the progress of the Afghan Government in reducing the cultivation of poppy, despite limited resources at its disposal, and stressed the need for enhanced regional and international efforts to combat narcotics effectively and resolutely, including provision of alternative means of livelihood for farmers through development of regional markets and transit arrangements, international support for law enforcement and criminal justice agencies of Afghanistan, elimination of drug-laboratories, strengthening anti-narcotics control to curb the flow of precursors and reducing demand and consumption;

Stressed the importance of concerted and combined efforts in the region to counter terrorism, illicit narcotics and organized crime, in particular coordination and cooperation of Afghanistan and its neighbours.

Were encouraged by growing dialogue between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan aimed at strengthening of mutual trust, as well as by the Joint Declaration on Directions of Bilateral Cooperation, signed on January 6, 2009 in Kabul, and at finding effective means to combat the menace of terrorism, including denying sanctuaries and dismantling the extremist and terrorist network and ideological centers;

Expressed conviction that the successful combat against terrorism, production and trafficking of narcotics and organized crime in Afghanistan and the region requires a due combination of enforcement and administrative methods, accompanied by targeted social and economic programs;

Underlined the need for sustained joint efforts to train Afghan experts in the field of countering drug trafficking, customs service and police;

Called for a full operationalization of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) as an important tool in combating illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors;

Welcomed the initiative of G8 to facilitate development projects aimed at social and economic development in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the context of cooperation with all neighboring States, as well as the enhancement of counter-narcotics’ regional dimension by reaching out, at the next G8 meeting on June 26 and 27, 2009 in Trieste, to the interested Countries and relevant Organizations; and in the same vein, commended the Ankara Trilateral Summit Process;

Supported transregional projects, aimed at comprehensive regional development, in particular construction of a united infrastructure network and energy corridor, transportation and transit, with consideration of activities of relevant regional organizations.

Noted that the SCO was one of the appropriate fora for a wide dialogue with participation of partners on the Afghanistan-related issues in the context of joint efforts of the international community and Afghanistan and for practical interaction between Afghanistan and its neighboring states in combating terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime;

Supported the need for close cooperation and coordination among international and regional organizations under UN coordination, in particular through United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, in joint response to those threats and challenges, and in this regard welcomed adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1868 on March 23, 2009;

Considered the view contained in the Statement and Plan of Action of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and organized crime and expressed the intent to explore the possibility of aiding their implementation.
1. Foreign Minister Spanta addresses Special SCO Meeting on Afghanistan

2. Declaration of the special Conference on Afghanistan convened under the
auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, 27 March 2009