Historical National Peace Gathering for Inclusive Peace in Afghanistan
On 29 March 2021, the historical National Peace Gathering, the largest civil gathering in recent history of Afghanistan, was held by the Mechanism for Inclusive Peace. Afghan society including civil society organisations, community leaders, religious scholars, youth, women activists and networks, victims, professional organisations, religious scholars, Tribal/Community leaders, scholars and experts from every district and province of Afghanistan attended. Many more from the Afghan diaspora participated via Facebook livestream.
WJO's Executive Director, Humaira Rasuli, facilitated one group session during this historic gathering, leading discussions around peace amongst 50 people from 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
"It was an experience to bring together all Afghans in all our diversity in a green environment and to reflect on what peace means to us." - Humaira Rasuli
The Gathering was called for in order to urgently address the key issue of Inclusion in the Afghan Peace Process, including the “Accelerated Peace Talks” to take place in Istanbul, Turkey.
Afghan society feels that there is a real opportunity to work towards peace today, and Afghan society does not want to squander that opportunity. We as Afghan society demands that our leaders do not throw away this opportunity of coming to some agreement. Nonetheless, Afghan Society wants to explicitly make it clear to all sides to the conflict (including the International Community), that best practice conflict resolution experience from around the world, strongly demonstrates that the more inclusive peace negotiations are, the more sustainable the peace is likely to be. Thus, it would be a fatal mistake to exclude the independent voices of civil society from the peace talks.
"While the top priority for Afghanistan is ceasefire and the end of war, the women in Afghanistan are still fighting for a peace that is inclusive and sustainable. To us, this means, a peace centered around sustainable social justice and not just the end of the war" - WJO
Key Demands raised during the Gathering:
Recognising that peace talks are sensitive; that conducting them outside Afghanistan increases concerns about inclusivity, transparency and accountability; and that peace talks need the buy-in of the Afghan people. Recognising that Afghan society as a whole needs to be included, but that not everyone can be at the table, and that specific constituencies such as women, victims, minorities, youth and others may also need specific measures to facilitate their inclusion.
We demand an inclusive process and an inclusive outcome. Inclusive means involving all segments of society, especially vulnerable and marginalized groups, young people, women, victims, and representatives of all ethnic and religious communities. The people, and not only the political elites, represent Afghan society.
We demand that an independent civil society mechanism is integrated into the formal peace architecture to provide for the systematic inclusion of Afghan society, and to ensure the inclusivity and sustainability of the peace process.
Recognising that the ongoing violence and targeted civilian casualties in Afghanistan is totally unacceptable; that people on all sides suffer from this violence; that a safer and secure environment is needed for Afghan society to rebuilt their lives.
Ceasefire negotiations should include the perspective of victims, women and all ordinary Afghans. Afghan society should have a neutral role in the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism of any Ceasefire.
Recognising that the continued development of Afghanistan requires a stable government that is committed to national unity, upholding the rule of law, and the protection of fundamental rights as well as strong economic development policies.
Negotiations on the constitution and future governance structures must include the perspective and expertise of Afghan society.
Ethnic and religious discrimination as well as moral and institutional corruption should be eliminated.
A Commission to compensate victims and ensure Justice should be established during the peace negotiations.
The future government must provide security, employment, education and preserve the rights of women and minority groups.
To read the full Declaration in English, Dari and Pashto, see links below: