Afghan President Hamid Karzai launched the “Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan,” on December 10, his announcement coinciding with the 59th Anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the celebration of Human Rights Day. The key elements of the plan are as follows:

1) Acknowledgment of the suffering of the Afghan people

2) The strengthening of state institutions

3) A commission on truth and justice

4) Promoting reconciliation among the Afghan people

5) Establishing a proper accountability mechanism for crimes committed

United Nations Envoy Tom Koenigs hailed the launch of the Plan, saying “This is a remarkable step, and especially so for a country that has suffered so much and in which conflict remains all too present. I applaud this courageous move.” He pledged the full support of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as he remembered the suffering caused by Afghanistan’s decades of human rights violations, “Launching an Action Plan is only a first step towards coming to terms with this legacy, but it shows that the dignity of victims is being respected,” he said. “It also gives hope that the truth may be established, that justice may be achieved, and that tolerance, solidarity, and trust may be restored.”

The plan was approved on December 12, but it’s implementation has been delayed due to concern that calling for justice would not help Afghanistan’s security situation. As Human Rights Watch has detailed in it’s 2005 report “Blood-Stained Hands: Past Atrocities in Kabul and Afghanistan’s Legacy of Impunity,” the Afghan government, United Nations, and international supporters including the United States (as part of it’s “war on terror”) have long supported human rights violators, war criminals, and drug-traffickers insteading of prosecuting them. Also, the report notes, the volatile situation and rise of the Taliban (given aid by President Bush as late as the summer of 2001) was fueled by Cold War policies under “The Reagan Doctrine” in the United States, which helped turn Afghanistan into a “failed state”. The report notes that:

“…the decision of the Soviet Union in 1979 to invade and suppress the mujahedin uprising, and the Soviet Union’s subsequent support for a series of brutal regimes through the 1980s, coupled with decisions by the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, and Pakistan to support the mujahedin, ultimately made Afghanistan one of the most unstable, fractured, and militarized places in the world…The governments of these seven countries today have an obligation to help Afghanistan rebuild and help it face its past. An important way to do so would be to forcefully and publicly press for justice for past crimes and support Afghan justice-building efforts.”

For more information from the Human Rights Watch report, see here.

Peter Broady

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