April 3, 2017 ARM Presentation in Brussels: Fundamental Rights and Conflict in Afghanistan
On April 3, 2017, APPRO-Europe held an event in Brussels to present findings from Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM). The event brought together representatives from the European Union, EU Member States, Government of Afghanistan, INGOs active in Afghanistan and other stakeholders to discuss progress toward Afghanistan’s treaty obligations on fundamental rights, pathways forward, and implications for future development programming in Afghanistan and other conflict contexts.
The ARM project emerged with the observation that the most basic, fundamental rights of Afghan citizens could be under threat by instability and conflict. ARM was designed to:
1. Document the baseline conditions for fundamental rights as of 2015 and monitor how instability or conflict would impact the fundamental rights under the three pillars of Civic, Social, and Economic rights.
2. Ensure that government authorities and civil society actors have a shared understanding offundamental rights and the need to protect and expand them through changes in policy and development programming. To this end, a key component of the ARM project is to provide joint training for government authorities and civil society actors through a certified course on policy and institutional analysis. The Policy and Institutional Analysis course, certified by Gent University in Belgium, brings together government and civil society actors in a single space, equips them with systematic and systemic knowledge of the policy process, and creates opportunities for them to directly engage with each other based a shared appreciation of the constraints and limitations in effecting change to safeguard fundamental rights and a shared vocabulary in the discourse for devising policy options.
On the Event
The presentation opened with the following statement:
“Advocacy is not only flag waving, shouting and demonstrating. Constructive advocacy requires discourse, reasoning and the collection of evidence. There is no informed policy without mutual understanding. Government decision makers have to feel obligated not only to listen to civil society, but to seek its input for better and more successful policies.”
The presentation outlined key findings from Afghanistan Rights Monitor, including trends in access to fundamental rights, populations affected, causes identified, and areas for advocacy.
Presentation of findings was followed by a roundtable discussion on:
*The need for putting food security back on humanitarian and development agendas.
*Support for the agricultural sector to address food insecurity and employment.
*The need for a value chain approach in agricultural development and regional integration through trade.
*Support for building trust in the police and addressing gender inequality and discrimination within the police force.
*Social, economic, and political implications of forced return migration from Pakistan and Europe.
*The need for better communication from the government side on achievements, ongoing policy developments and efforts. This is notably the case with initiatives to combat corruption.
*Importance of continued engagement of local NGOs and civil society, and the collection of evidence from the field for policy making and implementation.
*Importance of international donor support for NGOs whose mandates include research, monitoring, and advocacy on fundamental rights so that independent insights continue to inform the policy process. Direct reference was made in the discussion to the recent sentiment, popular among the main donors, to dispense all funding through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).
*Alignment of assistance with the government’s reform program.
The ARM baseline and monitoring reports are available on the publication page of APPRO-Europe‘s website.
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