HRW director slams Khalilzad for ‘shrugging off’ issue of women’s rights

Heather Barr, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch, has accused former US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad of being “beyond dismissive” of the issue of women’s rights in Afghanistan during the Doha peace talks prior to the collapse of the former government.

Barr stated that Khalilzad was asked during his negotiations with the Taliban about the rights of Afghan women.

According to her, Khalilzad was “beyond dismissive—shrugged it off as a matter for Afghans to work out among themselves.”

“The US ignored [UN Security Council resolution] 1325 and washed its hands of women’s rights,” Barr tweeted on Saturday.

Barr’s comment comes a day after two UN experts, including UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett, published their report on the situation of Afghanistan women in Afghanistan.

The report stated that the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the United States of America and the Taliban (Doha Agreement) of 2020 exemplified the willingness of all actors to disregard women’s rights for the sake of political expediency.

“The process was neither transparent nor inclusive, and largely excluded women. The agreement, which paved the way for the return of the Taliban, did not contain a single reference to, or safeguard for, women’s rights,” the report said.

“Since the Taliban secured effective control of the country in August 2021, there have been egregious systematic violations of women’s rights. In the words of a woman inside Afghanistan, “we are alive, but not living,” the report added.

This is not the first time Khalilzad has faced such criticism.

During his tenure as the US Special Representative, Khalilzad played a significant role in the US-Taliban agreement under the Trump administration, which led to the withdrawal of US forces and the Taliban’s regained control of Afghanistan.

Heather Barr’s tweet raised concerns about the fate of Afghan women, suggesting that Khalilzad failed to provide satisfactory explanations regarding the United States’ diminishing interest in women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Fawzia Kofi, former member of the Doha Peace Talks Negotiating Team, also accused Khalilzad of concealing facts and decisions that could improve the human rights situation in Afghanistan.

Kofi stated that Khalilzad never prioritized the improvement of the situation or took actions that would benefit Afghan women.The Taliban’s spokesman, however, rejected the report, saying that “human trafficking takes place beyond the borders of Afghanistan, and preventing it is the responsibility of other countries.”