This letter is organized by a coalition of Afghan women and friends of Afghanistan. The Afghan Women’s Network together with a larger coalition of Our Voices – Our Future and Together Stronger work to achieve peace and demand an end to the conflict and an equal representation of women across fields in Afghanistan. We believe in inclusive, just, practical, and sustainable peace in which women are equal citizens of Afghanistan.
We are facing unprecedented times and this past year has been difficult for citizens globally. Today, no matter where we are in the world, we can all relate to feelings of loss, uncertainty and isolation. The pandemic has demonstrated irrefutably that we are all interconnected and that certain challenges can only be addressed if all allies collaborate and act jointly. During his recent visit to Europe, President Biden reaffirmed America’s commitment to NATO and stressed the importance of the trans-Atlantic alliance and capacities of democracies to meet new challenges and threats. Urgent support for our Afghan allies, who are fighting threats against human rights and democratic principles on multiple fronts, must remain a key priority.
Biden’s commitment to NATO comes at a pivotal moment. As US and NATO forces prepare to leave Afghanistan, it is the obligation of all NATO and European countries to continue to strongly stand by our Afghan partners. Our Afghan allies are standing against an emboldened Taliban and militant networks who are using violence to silence and oppress the Afghan people. They are assassinating school girls, women leaders, journalists, judges, doctors, charity workers, teachers, government officials, minorities and even religious scholars. The killing and destruction of the people and institutions that uphold our shared values is not only a threat to the Afghan people who have been our allies for twenty years, but also to our core principles, legitimacy and global security. The Afghan people, just as our other allies, deserve peace, justice, liberty and dignity. We must not abandon the Afghan people and their democratic republic at this critical moment.
EU and NATO countries must come together to demonstrate that we remain steadfast in our commitment to human rights and democracy in Afghanistan, including for Afghan women and minorities and that we will continue to support he Afghan National Security Forces (ANDSF) who are fighting to protect Afghan lives from terrorists as well as work towards our shared security interests. Together, we must:
- Re-affirm robust financial support to ANDSF which is the most popular and respected institution in Afghanistan. Technical and financial support, intelligence-sharing, and training and assistance programs are essential for ANDSF to effectively combat terrorism and defend their country. To address concerns around corruption, the international community must immediately develop a joint plan with the ANDSF on a framework that can mitigate corruption and ensure continued support as they work to fill the security vacuum catalysed by the withdrawal.
- Continue development assistance to key institutions that deliver basic services. With an emboldened Taliban and their affiliates threatening crucial institutions and civic spaces, it is imperative to support education, health, and community programmes.
- Reaffirm support for civil society and human rights. Women and human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, as well as civil society activists, are facing deadly violence daily. Increasing support for these actors is essential.
- Continue humanitarian assistance given through international organisations must include a human rights component as a condition. We must ensure that the rights of women, monitories and other vulnerable groups are upheld and protected at all times.
- Develop a transatlantic approach to a regional framework at the highest levels of leadership. This will allow for utilizing the full range of levers and bilateral relationships across allies to push regional countries to end ‘spoiler’ actions and influence their proxies.
- Support a strong UN role in the Intra-Afghan peace talks to ensure that the peace talks do not fail and will result in a sustainable, just, and inclusive outcome for the Afghan people. To achieve this, a strong and neutral mediator is critical. While the appointment of the personal envoy of the UNSG has been positive, it is paramount that the UN has more power to support the progress of the talks among the two parties in Doha.
The withdrawal of US and NATO troops is not only a defining moment for Afghanistan, it is a test for what our democracies are prepared to champion and can achieve together. Let us fulfill our obligations by preventing further chaos and violence and by making a powerful contribution to peace in Afghanistan and ultimately to our global community. We must keep our promise to the Afghan people and stand with them, shoulder to shoulder, and face what lies ahead together.
- Hafida Benchehida, Founding member, Mediterranean women mediators network; Founding member, Arab Women Parliamentarians Network for Equity
- Susana Malcorra, Former Foreign Minister of Argentina & Chief of Staff at the UN Secretary General
- Dr Emma Leslie,Executive Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
- Ambassador William (Bill) Crosbie, Former Ambassador to Afghanistan
- Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Guissou Jahangiri, Vice President, International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), Executive director of OPEN ASIA | Armanshahr Foundation
- Dr Antje Herrberg, Senior Mediation Advisor, European Union
- Federica Mogherini, Former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the European Commission
- Prof. Nathalie Tocci, Director, Instituto Affari Internazionali
- Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, Former Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Ambassador to USA and St. Court of James’s as well as EU ambassador to Afghanistan and Russia
- Dr Mariyam Shakeela, Chairperson of Addu Women’s Association (AWA); Former Cabinet Minister, Government of the Maldives
- Bert Koenders, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
- Amina Rasul Bernardo, Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID)
- Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of the Republic of Poland 1995 – 2005
- Ahmad Masood Amer, Executive Director, Centre for Afghanistan Policy Studies
- Lieutenant General Sir James Benjamin Dutton, Royal Marines Officer, former Governor of Gibraltar
- Lieutenant General Sir James Jeffrey Corfield Bucknall, KCB, CBE, Retired British Army officer and former Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
- Baroness Mary Goudie, Member of the House of Lords
- The Rt Hon Baroness Frances D’Souza, Member of the House of Lords
- The Rt Hon Baroness Fiona Hodgson OF Abinger, Member of the House of Lords
- Sahar Halaimzai, Time4Real Peace; Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
- The Rt Hon Baroness Arminka Helic, Member of the House of Lords
- Zainab Homam, CEO of Afghan Action U.K.
- Prof. Mary Kaldor, Director, Conflict and Civil Society Research Programme, LSE
- Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Cameron Maxwell Lamb KBE, CMG, DSO, Former Commander of the Field Army at Land Command
- General Sir John Chalmers McColl, KCB, CBE, DSO, KStJ, Senior British Army officer, former Lieutenant Governor of Jersey. Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2007-2011
- Homa Hoodfar, Interim International Director, Women living under Muslim Laws
- The Rt Hon John Montague, 11th Earl of Sandwich, Member of the House of Lords
- General Sir Nicholas Ralph Parker, KCB, CBE, Former Commander of Land Armies
- Sir William Patey KCMG, Former UK Ambassador to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Sudan
- General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, Former Chief of the Defence Staff
- Major General Andy Salmon, CMG, OBE, Retired Royal Marines officer, former Commandant General Royal Marines
- Marika Theros, Policy Fellow, LSE Ideas; Non-resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
- Tom Tugendhat, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee
- Dr Rim Turkmani, Research Director, Conflict Research Programme – Syria, LSE IDEAS
- Rahela Sidiqi, Founder & Director, Rahela Trust
- Sanam Anderlini, Women Alliance for Security Leadership
- Arash Azizzada, Afghans For A Better Tomorrow
- Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Former US ambassador to Afghanistan
- Ambassador James Cunningham, Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Israel, and the United Nations
- Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Secretary General, NATO
- Tanya Henderson, Executive Director, Mina’s List
- Ambassador Hugo Llorens, US Spécial Chargé D’Affaires Afghanistan 2016-17, and Assistant Chief of Mission in Kabul (2012-13)
- Ambassador P. Michael McKinley, Former US ambassador to Afghanistan
- Ambassador Ron Neumann, Former US ambassador to Afghanistan
- Annie Pforzheimer, Former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Afghanistan
- David Sedney, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, U.S. Department of Defense
- Ellie Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation
- Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security
- Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne, Formerly Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Ambassador to Argentina, Mexico, and Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan
- Afghan American Women Association (A-AWA)
- Afghan American Foundation
- Afghan Women’s Organization Refugee and Immigrant Services
- Alliance in Support of the Afghan People
- Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
- Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediators networks
- International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
- The Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL)
- Women for Peace and Participation, UK
United Women for Peace members, Network of women peacebuilders in the Diaspora and countries
- Women Mediators Across the Commonwealth (WMC) Network
- Women’s Regional Network, Rukshanda Naz, President (Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan)
The South Asia Center serves as the Atlantic Council’s focal point for work on greater South Asia as well as its relations between these countries, the neighboring regions, Europe, and the United States.