The Government of Afghanistan is signatory to numerous human rights conventions and treaties and continues to reaffirm the importance of institutionalizing and enforcing Afghanistan’s constitutional commitment to fundamental rights.
There is general admission and recognition, however, that progress towards meeting treaty obligations has been slow in such areas as violence against women, mistreatment of children, rights violations by security forces, unaccountability of formal authorities, neglect of protractedly displaced persons, limitations in freedom of speech and persecution of dissent, and ongoing impunity for former human rights violators, among others.
Weak governance mechanisms, inadequate access to formal justice, corruption in the formal justice system, insufficient institutionalization of various protective laws and gaps in knowledge of rights violations have been pointed to as the main drivers of Afghanistan’s failure to meet its human rights obligations. In addition, the few gains made since 2001, particularly in women’s rights, are increasingly under threat with a resurgence of violence in many parts of the country. The fall of Kunduz in late September 2015 and recent skirmishes in Farah and Nangarhar as a result of military assaults by Armed Opposition Groups are testaments to this changing situation.
The existing Afghan legislative framework, though necessary, is not sufficient for protecting and promoting human rights and human rights defenders. There is an urgent need to complement the regulatory and legal provisions with ongoing monitoring information, public discourse, and advocacy. A necessary component for reconciling rights according to the law and rights in practice is the role to be played by civil society and rights organizations in creating the crucial linkage between the state’s regulatory provisions and the basic rights of the general population. This linkage will set in motion a process of fostering the institutionalization of human rights protection in Afghanistan through ongoing, evidence-based interface between civil society and government.
Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) was designed in 2015 to support informed policy and action on fundamental rights protection and promotion through research, constructive advocacy, and increased capacity of public institutions. The project will be implemented between October 2015 and April 2018 by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) in ten provinces in Afghanistan with the following components:
- Component 1 will establish the current conditions of fundamental rights in 10 provinces in Afghanistan through a baseline assessment using internationally recognized standards for fundamental rights monitoring under the three pillars of Civic, Social, and Economic rights.
- Component 2 will build the capacity of civil society actors in monitoring fundamental rights and advocacy, through needs based and tailor made trainings and regular mentoring and follow up.
- Component 3 will enhance the capacity of public institutions in receiving advocacy messaging on fundamental rights and developing responsive, evidence-based policies to protect fundamental human rights in Afghanistan.
- Component 4 will strengthen and expand APPRO’s existing financial, administrative, and information management systems.
These are expected to contribute to good governance practices through informed and constructive engagement between civil society and government based on applied research, capacity development, and advocacy aimed at national and international stakeholders.