Situation of human rights in Afghanistan

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/13


The Commission on Human Rights,


Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and accepted humanitarian rules, as set out in the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of victims of war and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977,

Reaffirming that all Member States have an obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to fulfil the obligations they have freely undertaken under the various international instruments,

Recalling that Afghanistan is a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and that it has signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

Recalling also its previous resolutions, the most recent being resolution 2000/18 of 18 April 2000, the relevant General Assembly resolutions, as well as the relevant resolutions and presidential statements of the Security Council, decisions of the Economic and Social Council and resolutions of the Commission on the Status of Women,

Affirming its sympathy and solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in the ongoing humanitarian crisis,

Expressing its grave concern at the failure of all Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to put an end to the conflict, which seriously threatens stability and peace in the region, and at the ethnic nature of the conflict,

Deploring the deteriorating economic and social conditions of women and girls in all areas of Afghanistan, in particular in areas under Taliban control, as documented by the continued and substantiated reports of grave violations of the human rights of women and girls, including all forms of discrimination against them, such as restrictions on access to health care, to many levels and types of education, to employment outside the home and, at times, to humanitarian aid, as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement,

Deeply concerned that, notwithstanding the desperate humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, which demands urgent action by the international community in terms of provision of relief assistance, serious difficulties relating to security and access impede the delivery of humanitarian relief to large sections of the population,

Recalling the agreement between the Taliban and the United Nations, signed on 23 October 1998, on the security of United Nations personnel in Afghanistan and urging its full implementation, and deeply disturbed by the continuing security threat to United Nations personnel and other humanitarian personnel, including locally engaged staff, and by the fact that the authorities continue to limit their access to affected populations in certain areas,

Convinced that the major contribution to improving the human rights situation in Afghanistan would be an immediate ceasefire followed by a negotiated settlement in line with the efforts aimed at the establishment of a broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative Government, and the effective participation of the people of Afghanistan in the governance of their country through freely chosen representatives,

Noting that in November 2000 both warring sides expressed their willingness to consider a negotiated solution to the conflict, and urging them to implement their stated commitment,

Recalling that the United Nations continues to play its central and impartial role in international initiatives towards a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict, and encouraging all efforts at the national, regional and international levels, in particular those of the “six plus two” group and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the efforts by influential Afghan individuals and organizations, such as the “Rome process” launched by the former King, Zahir Shah, to convene a loya jirgah as a step in the process towards peace and a broad-based, multi-ethnic, fully representative government, all aimed at finding a comprehensive political solution to the continuing conflict through a broad-based dialogue involving all concerned actors,

Taking into account the report of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women on her visit to Afghanistan in November 1997,

Expressing deep concern at the lack of reconstruction in Afghanistan, at the serious deterioration of the situation of the country, in particular the grim situation in the health sector and the degradation of education standards, especially as far as women and girls are concerned, and at the deterioration of the situation with respect to agriculture and the food supply which threatens to lead to famine, caused by the continued conflict and the worst drought in three decades,

Taking note of General Assembly resolution 55/243 of 9 March 2001 and deeply concerned and appalled by the edict of 26 February 2001 issued by the Taliban, by the fact that the Taliban did not abide by its previous commitment to protect all of the Afghan cultural heritage and by the subsequent deliberate destruction of relics belonging to the common heritage of humankind, which is a grave violation of, inter alia, article 15, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and appreciating the efforts by various States and international organizations to prevent such destruction,

1. Takes note of the interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan (E/CN.4/2001/43 and Add.1) and the report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (E/CN.4/2000/68/Add.4) and the conclusions and recommendations contained therein, and encourages both Special Rapporteurs to continue to fulfil their mandates;

2. Strongly condemns the mass killings and systematic human rights violations against civilians and persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict, including in the areas of Mazar-e-Sharif, Bamian, Shiberghan and Maimana, as well as the reported massacre committed by the Taliban in January 2001 in Hazarajat, and notes with alarm the resumption by the Taliban of the wider conflict during the past summer, especially in the Taloqan area, resulting in the massive forced displacement of the civilian population, in particular women and children, in the Shamali Plains and north-eastern Afghanistan, and the indiscriminate destruction of their homes and agricultural land, thereby eliminating their source of income;

3. Condemns all interference with the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies and the substantial restrictions introduced by the Taliban on the operations of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, and calls on all Afghan parties to ensure safe and unimpeded access for and to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, in particular the supply of food, medicines, shelter and health care, throughout Afghanistan;

4. Notes with deep concern:

(a) The continuing pattern of human rights violations in Afghanistan and that the country is therefore in a deep human rights crisis affecting every aspect of life;

(b) The continuation of armed hostilities in Afghanistan and the complex nature of the conflict, including its ethnic, religious and political aspects, which have resulted in extensive human suffering and forced displacement, including on the grounds of ethnicity, and which hinder the return of the internally displaced to their homes;

(c) The markedly increased flow and the continued displacement of millions of Afghan refugees to Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and other countries, while recognizing with appreciation efforts undertaken in host countries to ease the plight of Afghan refugees, inter alia in the fields of health and education, underlining the importance of the fulfilment of obligations under international human rights law with regard to asylum-seekers, and urging the international community to make funds available, recognizing the scale and severity of the problem and host countries to create conditions in which the existing and additional funding secured by relief agencies and non-governmental organizations can be disbursed to the most needy and newly arrived refugees, while continuing to provide assistance to internally displaced persons within Afghanistan;

(d) The sharp deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, in particular in the Shamali Plains, the Panjshir Valley and the north-east of the country, and calls for the full implementation of the agreement on the security of United Nations personnel in Afghanistan;

(e) The recent reports, which have been denied by the Taliban, of summary executions of prisoners in areas held by the Taliban, in the north of Afghanistan and in Samangan Province, and calls upon the Taliban to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in fully investigating these allegations;

5. Condemns:

(a) The widespread violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the rights to life, liberty and security of person, freedom from torture and from other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, freedom of opinion, expression, religion, association and movement, and the conscription or enlistment of children or their use as participants in hostilities in violation of international standards;

(b) The continuing grave violations of the human rights of women and girls, including all forms of discrimination against them, in all areas of Afghanistan, particularly in areas under the control of the Taliban where findings of further gross violations of the human rights of women and girls include abductions and kidnappings, as well as accounts of many instances of forced marriage and of trafficking;

(c) The frequent practice of arbitrary arrest and detention and of summary trials, which have resulted in summary executions, throughout the country, and in particular the reported executions of civilians in Yakawlang by the Taliban forces;

(d) The violations by the Taliban in Kandahar of United Nations immunity granted by the 23 October 1998 agreement, which compelled the United Nations to stop work in the area;

(e) The delay in the trial of the alleged murderers of officials of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan killed in Afghanistan in 1998 while on duty, and urges the Taliban promptly to set up the relevant legal proceedings;

6. Reiterates its condemnation of the killing of Iranian diplomats and the correspondent of the Islamic Republic News Agency by the Taliban, which constituted flagrant violations of established international law, as well as of the attacks on and killing of United Nations personnel in Taliban-held territories of Afghanistan, and calls upon the Taliban to fulfil its stated commitment to cooperate in urgent investigations of these heinous crimes and to bring those responsible to justice;

7. Stresses:

(a) The need for national reconciliation and for the establishment of the rule of law, good governance and democracy in Afghanistan and, concurrently, the need for extensive rehabilitation and reconstruction;

(b) In the same context, the need for humanitarian assistance from the international community as a means of averting further deterioration of the humanitarian situation;

8. Urges all States to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs and to end immediately the supply of arms, ammunition, military equipment, fuel for military purposes, training or any other military support, including providing any foreign military personnel, to all parties to the conflict;

9. Urges all the Afghan parties:

(a) To respect fully all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion, in accordance with international human rights instruments;

(b) To cease hostilities immediately, to work and cooperate fully with the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and the Special Mission with a view to achieving a ceasefire and to implement the Tashkent Declaration on Fundamental Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict in Afghanistan of 19 July 1999, thus laying the foundation for a comprehensive political solution leading to the voluntary return of displaced persons to their homes in safety and with dignity and to the establishment of a broad-based, multi-ethnic, fully representative government through the full exercise by the Afghan people of the right to self-determination;

(c) To reaffirm publicly their commitment to international human rights and principles and to recognize, protect and promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(d) To respect fully international humanitarian law, to protect civilians, to halt the use of weapons against the civilian population, to refrain from the wanton destruction of food crops and civilian property, in particular homes, to stop the laying of landmines, especially anti-personnel mines, to fulfil their duty to cooperate with the United Nations mine action programme and to protect its personnel;

(e) To prohibit the conscription or enlistment of children or their use as participants in hostilities in violation of international standards and to ensure the disarming, demobilization and reintegration into society of children;

(f) To provide efficient and effective remedies to the victims of grave violations and abuses of human rights and of international humanitarian law and to bring the perpetrators to trial;

(g) To fulfil their obligations and commitments regarding the safety of all personnel of diplomatic missions, the United Nations and other international organizations and non-governmental organizations, as well as of their premises in Afghanistan, and to cooperate, fully and without discrimination on grounds of gender, nationality or religion, with the United Nations and associated bodies, as well as with other humanitarian organizations, agencies and non-governmental organizations, in order to facilitate full resumption of their cooperation;

(h) To treat all suspects and convicted or detained persons in accordance with relevant international instruments and to refrain from arbitrary detention of any person, including of civilian foreign nationals and non-criminal civilian and political prisoners, and urges their captors to release them;

10. Urges the Taliban to avoid any discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin against people wishing to leave the country and to seek asylum abroad;

11. Urges all the Afghan parties, and in particular the Taliban, to bring to an end without delay all violations of human rights of women and girls and to take urgent measures to ensure:

(a) The repeal of all legislative and other measures which discriminate against women and girls and those which impede the realization of all their human rights;

(b) The effective participation of women in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life throughout the country;

(c) Respect for the equal right of women to work, and their reintegration in employment, including in the specialized agencies of the United Nations system and human rights organizations;

(d) The equal right of women and girls to education without discrimination, the reopening of schools and the admission of women and girls to all levels of education;

(e) Respect for the equal right of women and girls to security of person and that those responsible for physical attacks on women and girls be brought to justice;

(f) Respect for the freedom of movement of women and girls;

(g) Respect for effective and equal access by women and girls to the facilities necessary to protect their right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;

12. Notes with appreciation the activities carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations throughout the territory of Afghanistan;

13. Recalls that it had invited the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to proceed without delay to investigate fully reports of mass killings of persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict and of civilians, and of rape and cruel treatment in Afghanistan, expresses deep regret for the lack of cooperation by Afghan parties, calls upon the United Front and the Taliban to fulfil their stated commitment to cooperate with such investigations and, noting the summary of the report on the investigations, as a preliminary response, expresses its deep regret to all the parties for the unsatisfactory results;

14. Welcomes the deployment of the Civil Affairs Unit of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan and its ongoing dialogue on political and human rights issues with high-ranking representatives of the local and regional authorities of both sides to the Afghan conflict;

15. Invites:

(a) The Secretary-General to exert efforts to ensure a gender perspective in the selection of the staff of the Special Mission in order to enhance the role of women in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping;

(b) The Special Rapporteur to continue to pay special attention to the human rights of women and children and to incorporate fully a gender perspective in his report to the Commission at its fifty-eighth session;

(c) The United Nations to offer, once national reconciliation is achieved and upon request of the governmental authorities, advisory services and technical assistance concerning, inter alia, the drafting of a constitution, which should embody internationally accepted human rights principles and provide for the holding of direct elections;

16. Appeals to Member States and to organizations and programmes of the United Nations system, specialized agencies and other international organizations, whenever the situation on the ground permits and as part of an overall effort to achieve peace:

(a) To consider responding positively to the United Nations appeal for Afghanistan for 2001 and to provide, on a non-discriminatory basis, humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and to the Afghan refugees in the neighbouring countries, in a spirit of burden-sharing, and to take special care to ensure that this assistance is provided evenly throughout Afghan territory;

(b) To intensify the programme for the removal of millions of anti-personnel mines laid in Afghanistan;

(c) To ensure that all United Nations-assisted programmes in Afghanistan are formulated and coordinated in such a way as to promote and ensure the participation of women in those programmes, and that women benefit equally with men from such programmes;

(d) To implement the recommendations of the inter-agency gender mission in Afghanistan under the leadership of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women;

17. Strongly calls upon the Taliban to abide by its previous commitments to protect Afghanistan’s cultural heritage from all acts of vandalism, damage and theft, to withdraw its edict and to take immediate action to prevent the further destruction of the irreplaceable relics, monuments and artefacts of this heritage;

18. Urges all the Afghan parties to extend their cooperation to the Commission and its Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and all those special rapporteurs who are seeking invitations, and to facilitate the access of the Special Rapporteur to all sectors of society and to all parts of the country;

19. Requests:

(a) The Secretary-General to give all necessary assistance to the Special Rapporteur and to give due consideration to his recommendations in the formulation of United Nations activities in Afghanistan;

(b) The High Commissioner to ensure a human rights presence in the context of the United Nations activities in Afghanistan in order to provide advice and training in the field of human rights to all the Afghan parties, as well as to the intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations active in the field;

20. Decides:

(a) To extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year and requests the Special Rapporteur to report on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session and to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-eighth session;

(b) To continue its consideration of the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, as a matter of high priority, at its fifty-eighth session under the same agenda item.


63rd meeting
18 April 2001
[Adopted without a vote..]


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