In a May 30, 2019 joint statement, the two sides negotiating peace for Afghanistan in the latest round of discussions during May 28-29, stated that they had “productive and constructive talks focusing on a possible ceasefire, the strengthening of the Islamic system and women’s rights.” The statement further read “Both sides have had tremendous progress, but some issues require further discussions.” A Taliban spokesman stated that there had been “spectacular progress” during this latest round of talks, including on such sticky issues as the withdrawal of international forces. Although details of this latest development are scarce, there are signs that both the Taliban and the United States remain committed to continuing their dialogue, which started sometime in late 2018.
There are serious concerns about the transparency and accountability of these talks, which have consistently excluded representation from ordinary Afghans, as well as the Government of Afghanistan. The concerns center on worries that fundamental rights, particularly for women and ethnic and religious minorities, may be compromised in order to secure peace with the Taliban.
There is little clarity on how fundamental rights of ordinary Afghans can be protected within the current framework for peace negotiations. While civil society has little or no influence over the current proceedings, it can make its voice heard and its concerns about protecting fundamental rights articulated.
To this end, National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP), with support from Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) as its Secretariat, held an Open Forum on July 4, 2019 to discuss opinions, concerns and expectations of the current peace process with participation from various stakeholders.
The summary of the highlights of the event and its proceedings are available here.