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Left to right: Dr. Kaveer Rahela, Representative, Afghan Peace Dialogue; Amb. Shukria Barakzai, former Afghan MP and Ambassador to Norway; Mr. Mohammad Alam Izdyar, Former Vice President of the Afghan Senate; Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, NGO Committee on the Status of Women at the UN in Geneva; Mr. Reza Jafari, President, Afghan Peace Dialogue; Mrs. Shah Gul Rezai, Former member of the Afghan Parliament; General Sami Sadat, President, United Afghanistan Front; Amb. China Musa Arefi, Former Acting Head, Afghan Embassy in China.
Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, President, NGO Committee on the Status of Women at the UN in Geneva (4th from left), moderated the conference.
Left to right: Dr. Kaveer Rahela; Amb. Shukria Barakzai; Mr. Mohammad Alam Izdyar; Mrs. Carolyn Handschin; Mr. Reza Jafari; Mrs. Shah Gul Rezai; General Sami Sadat; Amb. China Musa Arefi.
Approximately 45 people attended the side-event at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Left to right: Amb. Shukria Barakzai, former Afghan MP and Ambassador to Norway; Dr. Kaveer Rahela, Representative, Afghan Peace Dialogue; Mr. Mohammad Alam Izdyar, Former Vice President of the Afghan Senate; Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, NGO Committee on the Status of Women at the UN in Geneva; Mr. Reza Jafari, President, Afghan Peace Dialogue; General Sami Sadat, President, United Afghanistan Front; Mrs. Shah Gul Rezai, Former member of the Afghan Parliament; Amb. China Musa Arefi, Former Acting Head, Afghan Embassy in China.

Geneva - June 20, 2024 - A conference on the "Challenges and Perspectives for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan" was held as a side-event at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland.

This conference, jointly hosted by Universal Peace Federation and Afghan Peace Dialogue movement, brought together political figures and representatives of UPF to address current challenges faced by Afghanistan.

Forty-five people attended some or all of the event. In the given time, it was not possible to give a comprehensive view of the situation in Afghanistan, let alone to offer suggestions for change. But a willingness was expressed to meet the current government for discussion as to how best to lead the country and promote human rights at all levels of society. The citizens of Afghanistan long for real peace, a social life, economic development and the provision of good education for their children.

Carolyn Handschin, President, NGO Committee on the Status of Women at the United Nations in Geneva and Director, Office of UN Relations, Women’s Federation for World Peace International, moderated the conference.

The introductory presentation was delivered by Reza Jafari, President of the Afghan Peace Dialogue movement. In his talk entitled “Overview of the Current Situation in Afghanistan, Solutions for Peace, Stability, and Inclusive Governance”, he also discussed the rise of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and the globalization of terrorism.

Then followed contributions by six speakers:

Shah Gul Rezai, former member of the Afghan Parliament and participant in the Doha peace negotiations, delivered a speech on “The Crucial Role of Women in Afghan Governance and Lessons from Peace Negotiations.”  She emphasized the importance of women in Afghan governance and highlighted lessons learned from peace negotiations.

Mohammad Alam Izdyar, former Vice President of the Afghan Senate, spoke on “Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights Protection in Afghanistan”, stressing the importance of both these factors.

Shukria Barakzai, former Afghan MP and Ambassador to Norway, addressed the topic of “Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan,” denouncing gender-based segregation.

General Sami Sadat, former Commander of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Corps and President of the United Afghanistan Front, delivered a speech entitled “Youth as Agents of Change for Peace” in which he emphasized the role that youth have to play in shaping the future. He spoke of the abuse of children in madrasas under the Taliban regime and the consequences, not only for these children but also for Afghan society.

Dr. Rahela Kaveer, representative of the Afghan Peace Dialogue movement, spoke on “The Role of Women in Diplomacy, Education, and Women's Rights for Peace in Afghanistan.”

Musa Arefi, former Acting Head of the Afghan Embassy in China and representative of the Hazara Society Policy Center evaluated a transition in the Taliban: “From Taliban Ideology to Taliban Governance: The Transformation of Afghanistan.”

The conference touched on many challenges facing the people of Afghanistan such as: the repression of women (gender apartheid), children's rights, the rise of ISIS and Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the peace process, and the creation of an inclusive government. The Afghan Peace Dialogue movement strives to give voice to local activists in the country, prioritizing internal perspectives over external prescriptions and recommendations. By presenting a detailed roadmap to the United Nations, the movement emphasizes the importance of implementing fundamental and sustainable solutions to address Afghanistan's current challenges.

Proposals and Future Projects

In conclusion, Carolyn Handschin and Reza Jafari proposed a full-day event this autumn to be held in the same venue, the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Participants from all sectors of Afghan society would be invited to discuss solutions for peace, the creation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan and to implement the roadmap.

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