Watchdogs: Women’s rights non-negotiable at Doha meeting on Afghanistan

Ahead of the upcoming Doha meeting, a coalition of human rights watchdogs has emphasized that the rights of Afghan women and girls are non-negotiable. In a joint letter, the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security, along with 11 other human rights organizations, stressed the need for unwavering support for women’s rights in Afghanistan.

The letter highlighted that many Afghan women in civil society have called for a boycott of negotiations with the Taliban until women’s rights are fully restored. “This meeting offers a decisive opportunity to demonstrate to all Afghans that their human rights are not a bargaining chip but the foundation on which the future of their country depends,” the letter stated.

The watchdogs argued that the success of the international community’s approach to Afghanistan, and the credibility of the Doha process, should be measured not by Taliban participation, but by whether the UN and Member States can unite around clear, transparent, and non-negotiable principles upholding human rights, particularly women’s rights and participation.

The coalition insisted that women’s rights must be a central topic of discussion in Doha. “Respect for women’s rights must be a core objective of the international community’s engagement on Afghanistan, and a standing agenda item at all upcoming and future discussions in Doha,” the letter stated. “Women’s rights must also be addressed in discussions on any other aspect of the situation in Afghanistan, such as the humanitarian crisis, political process, climate change, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, and economic development efforts.”

The groups urged Member States to establish clear safeguards to ensure the full spectrum of women’s human rights is respected, without exception, in accordance with Afghanistan’s international obligations. They noted that Afghan women have called on the international community to refrain from granting the Taliban a seat at the UN, inviting them to UN-convened meetings, reopening diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, or lifting sanctions—all actions that could legitimize a regime that continues to violate women’s human rights and international legal obligations.

The upcoming Doha meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan is scheduled to be held at the end of this month.