Voices of both rural and urban civil society deserve to be heard when plans are made for the development of Afghanistan. Ensuring a comprehensive and participative engagement with Afghan civil society was crucial to the success of the 2020 Afghanistan Conference.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland supported the promotion and coordination civil society involvement and inclusive participation in the pledging conference on Afghanistan.
Civil Society Statement at the 2020 Afghanistan Conference
The civil society statement sets out a demand for peace in Afghanistan against a backdrop of the deaths of 100,000 civilians having been killed or injured in the last ten years and, more recently, a campaign of assassinations targeted at journalists, human rights workers, religious scholars and civil society activists.
Hope and fear are now intermingled; hope for continued international support and fear that Afghan citizens, especially those and their families, who write, teach or stand up for others, will pay a heavy price.
Afghan citizens have been under attack in a variety of ways, civil society delegates have received threats and were caught in rocket attacks on the way to record this statement.
Afghan Civil Society welcomes the core principles set out in the Afghanistan Partnership Framework agreed in Geneva at the 2020 Afghanistan conference between the Afghan government and its international partners. If these commitments are implemented then the lives of Afghan men, women and children will improve. The statement, and its accompanying position paper, describe how far there is to go, despite the very real achievements that have already been made.
Afghan civil society delegation to coordinate civil society statement to the 2020 Afghanistan Conference
Finland is committed to support inclusive participation of Afghan civil society in the 2020 Afghanistan Conference. Coordination of the civil society was awarded to BAAG the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) and its partner Civil Society Working Committee (CSWC) to advance this objective. The CSO statement presented by the official CSO delegation on 24th of November will be a synthesis of national discussions and provincial consultations conducted in Afghanistan.
The call for applications to become Afghan civil society delegates to the 2020 Afghanistan Conference was advertised and widely shared through civil society networks across Afghanistan. A ten person delegation was selected through a competitive process. , which was conducted by a panel of civil society actors with independent observers at every stage. The be eligible candidate, the applicant had to be more than 22 years, non-partisan, of good reputation, having no record of criminal or human rights violations, with a minimum of 5 years working experience within the civil society community, and an ability to present the views of Afghans in an articulate manner in English.
A delegation has been selected: five men and five women, diverse in age, regional origin and ethnicity, experience and knowledge. Their task is, following the results of provincial consultations and consultation with national and international civil society members, to produce a Position Paper, to be circulated in advance of the Conference. The key messages derived from the Position Paper will be conveyed in the civil society statement, which the two spokesperson from the delegation will present in the plenary on 24th of November.
BAAG has also produced a paper summarizing key views and recommendations made by Afghan NGOs and international civil society organizations in their position papers prepared for the Conference. The Afghan and international civil society draws attention to the main challenges faced by the development partners in achieving common sustainable goals and peace in Afghanistan and provides them several recommendations to address these issues. Improving meaningful participation of women in public sphere as well as supporting livelihood-generating activities are examples of how wellbeing of Afghan people could be better supported.
The Civil Society Working Committee, an umbrella group of civil society coordinating bodies and networks, and provincial facilitating organisations conducted consultations in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, Provincial organisations facilitated meetings of civil society men and women, which elicited peoples' views on development issues in Afghanistan and will inform the key advocacy messages for the 2020 Conference.