Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 24th, 2017

The Outcome of Afghanistan’s Membership in UNHRC

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The Outcome of Afghanistan’s Membership in UNHRC

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China in the far northeast. Its territory covers 650,000 square kilometers. With this geographical location, Afghanistan has a particular strategic importance – which drew the attention and intervention of some countries in the past. It is for many decades that Afghanistan is wrestling with civil conflicts and militancy. For many years, Afghan children have been born and bred up amidst war and violence. Hence, the heavy burden of challenges will put pressure on Afghans and put them in unwanted path. Afghan people are traumatized by the deadly nightmare of war. Within the past seventeen years, the violation of people’s rights was widespread.  
Within the past years, one would hardly ever hear good news. The news were replete with doleful episodes and tragic issues. Despite this fact, it is believed that we are in the right path since we carry out our daily activities hopefully in a time that terrorist groups create catastrophe everyday – inflicting indescribable suffering upon the people of this land – and seek to pose challenges before the National Unity Government (NUG) at national and international level. The membership of Afghanistan in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a major achievement for Afghan nation and state. In short, it is a good news for a country where people’s rights were disregarded and violated for many years by powerful individuals. The country’s membership in UNHRC has many advantages which will be explained shortly.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) have stressed the rights of mankind such as right to property, education, work, marriage, etc. Human rights include the basic and fundamental rights of mankind that all mankind are entitled inherently on the basis of being human.
It can be said that if the international community debates through the means of a common, moral language in a peaceful atmosphere, this moral language will be human rights.
Considering the activities of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan, a question will arise in one’s mind that what is the UNHRC and why Afghanistan has just got its membership?
The UNHRC is a United Nations System and responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world. The UNHRC is the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). Its 47 seats are filled by member states elected for three-year terms. The UN General Assembly established the UNHRC by adopting a resolution on March 15, 2016 in order to replace the previous CHR. The UNHRC addresses human rights-related situations in all UN member states. The UNHRC also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities. Afghanistan’s membership was discussed at the UN General Assembly last year by Afghan Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, and this year, our country gained the membership by winning 130 votes in favor.
Gaining a positive vote on Afghanistan’s membership in the council indicates that the human rights situation in Afghanistan has improved dramatically comparing to previous years.
Distribution of seats in the UNHRC is equal on the basis of geographical presence. Accordingly, there are 13 seats for the African continent, 13 for Asia, 6 for Eastern Europe, 8 for Latin America and the Caribbean, and eight for Western Europe and other states.
The next questions is why membership in this council is important for Afghanistan and what are the benefits?
With the creation of this council and the abolition of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the jurisdiction and work area of the UNHRC increased. Members of this council are elected by the General Assembly and enjoy greater legitimacy and transparency. The council is universal and can better reflect human rights issues. If necessary and important, it will form a special extraordinary session with a majority vote and deal with it seriously. In fact, this council is highly qualified and prevention from human rights violation is also in the realm of its authority.
Each year, the UNHRC holds three sessions in 10 weeks examining human rights situation in the world. Taking into account that investigating human rights violation is the top priority of member states, the membership of Afghanistan in this council will be a great support in terms of ending this issue in the country.
By gaining membership, Afghanistan will be under the scrutiny of this council more than ever before. Hence, the cases of human rights violation will be investigated by UNHRC and I am optimist enough that an appropriate solution will be found out.
In Afghanistan, we have witnessed and will continue to witness widespread violation of human rights. For example, the right to education, right to freedom of expression, right to life, right to marriage, etc. were violated in the country. Girls are forced to get married, the life of innocent people are lost easily, and millions of children; mainly girls; are deprived from getting education. Thus, Afghanistan’s membership in UNHRC will reduce human rights violation. On the other hand, Afghan government will be committed and responsible in protecting human rights.

Abdul Nasir Mowahhidi is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at the outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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