Afghanistan

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Persistent violations
  • The high rate of malnutrition [1]
  • Forced marriage [2]
  • Barriers to justice [3]
  • Violence against children [4]
  • Corporal punishment[5]
  • The high number of children engaged in the worst forms of child labour [6]
  • Discrimination against women and girls, especially in access to education [7]
  • Trafficking of children [8]
  • Sexual exploitation and abuse [9]
  • Children affected by armed conflict [10]
  • The juvenile justice system is not in line with international standards[11]
  • The high rate of infant mortality [12]
  • Killings in the name of "honour" [13]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Independent Expert on Afghanistan, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Universal Periodic Review
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Afghanistan
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

Landlocked and mountainous, Afghanistan is at the crossroads between the Middle East and Central Asia. The country’s history has been marked by continuous war and political instability since at least as far back as the 1970s. The ongoing armed conflict in the country is perhaps the most pressing challenge to protecting human rights, and the creation of a legal framework for human rights is still very much in its infancy.


Geography

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located at the crossroads between the Middle East and Central Asia. It shares borders with Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China and Pakistan. The country's terrain combines mountains with vast plains making the climate highly variable. The capital city is Kabul.

Population and Language

The population of Afghanistan is 29 million. Available demographic statistics indicate that the Afghan population rose sharply (by 63 per cent) in the 1990s following the end of the Soviet occupation, a trend that continued as a result of the return of many expatriates in the years after the fall of the Taliban. Since 2005, the national population has increased by around 3.5 per cent annually, with estimates that it may rise by more than a third over the coming decade.[1]


However, the turbulent modern history of Afghanistan makes it difficult to ascertain precise demographic statistics. No census has been conducted in Afghanistan since a partial count in 1979. What is clear, however, is that Afghanistan has an ethnically diverse population, in which there are large communities of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Chahar, Aimaks and Turkmen.[2]

The main languages of the country are Dari - which is closely related to Farsi - and Pashto.

History and Politics

The recent history of Afghanistan is marked by continuous war and political instability that goes back at least as far as the 1970s. Between 1979 and 1989, Afghanistan was subject to an occupation by the USSR which formed one of the flash-points in the Cold War, with the USA funding paramilitary groups in opposition to the USSR's forces. Following the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan faced a period of civil war that ultimately led to the formation of a theocracy under the leadership of the Taliban.

Following the terrorist attacks on the USA in September 2001, a US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan, quickly deposing the Taliban but creating substantial civil unrest. A transitional government was in place by June 2002 leading to the election of Hamid Karzai as the President in the first post-war elections of 2004 and his re-election in 2009.

The political system currently takes the form of a bicameral legislature with an executive led by a President with the support of a cabinet. However, violence and civil unrest remain ongoing problems, as well as fractious relations within central government, with the postponement of Parliamentary elections, and a hostile relationship between the President and the legislature.

Economy

The economic situation in Afghanistan is very much tied to national security, something that has been variable since the fall of the Taliban. Such uncertainty has not been conducive to strong economic development. Nevertheless, macroeconomic conditions have been mostly favourable, with GDP growth reaching a historic high of 22.5 per cent in 2009/2010 alongside a declining debt burden and low levels of inflation. However, Afghanistan has high levels of poverty, with 36 per cent of the population living under the national poverty line in 2008.[3]

Agriculture is the dominant source of national labour, with 80 per cent of the population involved in subsistence and commercial farming. Afghanistan is also a dominant force in the drugs trade, as one of the worlds foremost exporters of opium.[4] Corruption is also a significant problem facing economic development; indeed, Transparency International rated Afghanistan as the third most corrupt nation in the world in their 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index report.[5]

Civil Society and Media

Afghan civil society is developing, with over 1,300 social organisations and a similar number of NGOs forming in the years since the fall of the Taliban. Such organisations initially suffered from a lack of support, but they have been involved in a wide range of campaigns in favour of human rights reforms, particularly laws relating to the mass media, domestic violence and family laws.[6]

Human Rights and Children's Rights

The development of Afghanistan's human rights legal framework is still very much in its infancy, with the Committee on the Rights of the Child making a number of critical remarks in its first report on the country in February 2011. Although domestic legal reform is under way, the Committee highlighted a large number of areas in which the law required amendments in order to be brought into line with rights enshrined in the Convention.

Among the most immediate problems cited are the deaths of “hundreds of children as a result of attacks and air strikes by insurgent groups, international military forces and the Afghan National Army” and the widespread problem of social discrimination against girls.[7]

Footnotes:

  1. UN DESA World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision.
  2. FCO Country Profiles: Afghanistan.
  3. World Bank,Afghanistan Economic Update: April 2010
  4. Ibid
  5. Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2010
  6. Report of the Working Group Universal Periodic Review on Afghanistan, 24 February 2009
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations to Afghanistan February 2011, paragraph 29

Sources:

  • Report of the Working Group Universal Periodic Review on Afghanistan, 24 February 2009
  • UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations to Afghanistan, February 2011
  • Transparency International, "Corruption Perceptions Index 2010"
  • World Bank, “Afghanistan Economic Update: April 2010”UN DESA (2009d). "World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision". New York: Department for Economic and Social Affairs.
  • FCO Country Profiles: Afghanistan
  • UNICEF: Afghanistan Country Profile
  • UNDP: Afghanistan Country Profile of Human Development Indicators


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