The 1st meeting of the Special Working Group on Economic and Social Development and the 2nd meeting of the Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration took place in Kabul on 7th and 9th May.
The Special Working Group on Economic and Social Development was co-chaired by H.E. Ms. Naheed Sarabi, Deputy Finance Minister of Afghanistan and by Ms. Raffaella Iodice, Head of Unit for Middle East/Gulf, Central Asia, South Asia in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission.
Both parties expressed their satisfaction with the effectiveness and overall progress of the development cooperation implemented through ongoing programmes and projects supported by the EU. The current focus of activities is on democracy, stability and peace, sustainable economic growth and jobs, and the provision of basic services. Important areas of EU support are the provision of basic health services through the government and the Citizens’ Charter. The EU is also strongly engaged in supporting peace and development in Afghan through closer regional cooperation and economic ties and trade opportunities with Afghanistan’s neighbours, the wider region and Europe. The EU confirmed its strong commitment to continue on-budget assistance linked to Government's improvement in policy design and effective implementation, targeting in particular poverty reduction and job creation. The dividends of sustainable growth need to be fairly shared among citizens, including those living in rural and remote areas. This is all the more relevant under a possible peace scenario.
The working group initiated a discussion between the EU and the Afghan government about future cooperation priorities under a new country programme which will cover the period from 2021 to 2027. The meeting discussed also the short term priorities for the current and the next year.
The Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration has been was co-chaired by HE Mr. Idrees Zaman, Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan and by Ms Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific, European External Action Service, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, HE Mr. S. Rabbani and the First Lady Rula Ghani.
The present momentum with renewed efforts on peace was underlined throughout the discussions, with a shared understanding of the importance of preserving and possibly improving the achievements of the last 18 years in the areas of human rights, good governance, rule of law and socio-economic reforms in future peace talks and negotiations.
Both parties discussed the most recent developments in the area of human rights, where progress has been made but more remains to be done to ensure proper implementation of the relevant legislation throughout the country.
Stepping-up the efforts to implement the National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (NAP 1325) and the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) is of critical importance. The EU invited the Afghan government to initiate the enactment of the Child Protection Act into law. Both parties agreed on the importance of ensuring adequate protection of journalists and Human Rights Defenders. The EU reiterated its strong opposition to the death penalty and called for a moratorium as a first step towards abolition.
The follow up on the recent recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review and of UN treaty monitoring bodies is of particular importance. Reforms in the areas of the judiciary, ensuring a fair trial, as well as the importance of preventing torture and ill-treatment, were also discussed. Afghanistan expressed its commitment to continue to implement the Anti-Corruption Strategy (ACS), an area where the EU remains committed to provide support.
Enhanced and coordinated efforts in view of the September 2019 Presidential elections were underlined as essential to ensure a better, more transparent, credible and inclusive electoral process.
In an exchange on the regional dimensions of migration, the EU reiterated its engagement and longstanding assistance to Afghan nationals in the neighbouring countries and to those displaced inside Afghanistan.
The next meetings of both the Special Working Group on Economic and Social Development and the Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration will take place in Brussels in 2020.