The EU and Afghanistan have entered a new stage in their bilateral relations in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development (CAPD). Under this agreement both sides had a frank dialogue about important topics related to human rights, good governance and migration. The EU acknowledged the progress made by Afghanistan in certain areas and reaffirmed its continued support, both politically and in terms of financial assistance.
The first meeting of the EU-Afghanistan Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration took place on 5th May 2018 in Kabul, representing enhanced step in the EU-Afghanistan bilateral relation in the framework of the CAPD concluded in 2017.
The discussions were held in a friendly and constructive atmosphere. The EU side recognized the ongoing efforts being made by the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the increased protection of human rights and promote good governance. Topics for discussion ranged from women's and children's rights to the freedom of expression and the protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), and from the treatment of socially vulnerable people to the prevention of torture and ill-treatment. While Afghanistan made progress in putting mechanisms in place for minimising the use of the death penalty, the EU recalled its principled opposition to the death penalty and stressed the importance of Afghanistan instating a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition.
Afghanistan gave an update on the implementation of its National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. The EU stressed the need for provisions of the Law on Preventing the Violence Against Women (EVAW) to be fully implemented. The implementation of the National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriages was also underlined as a priority. Participants also discussed ways to eliminate child labour and the need to continue promoting education at all levels across the country.
The EU commended Afghanistan for the accession to important UN human rights conventions and encouraged their speedy implementation. The meeting took note of the first developments aimed at ensuing an independent, accountable and professional judiciary, for upholding democratic principles, protecting human rights and ensuring justice through fair trial and due process. On the situation of Human Rights Defenders in Afghanistan, concrete steps to enhance their protection were discussed.
On the issue of the fight against corruption, the Afghan side reaffirmed its commitment to continue implementing the Anticorruption Strategy, which the EU side committed to continue to support. In this context, the EU made reference to its on-going development assistance aiming at protecting HRD's and enhancing women's and children rights, but also in support to the police force and the justice sector.
With regard to the parliamentary and district council elections scheduled for 20 October and presidential elections in 2019 both sides agreed on the necessity for a timely, inclusive and transparent process. An increased participation of women as voters and candidates should be particularly supported.
The discussion on the regional dimension of migration highlighted the challenges that still exist in the region and the need to continue efforts to achieve safe, orderly and dignified voluntary returns and the sustainable reintegration of Afghan returnees within the country, in line with international commitments and human rights standards.
The delegation of the European Union was headed by Ms Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific Department of the European External Action Service. The Afghan delegation was led by Mr Nader Nadery, Chairman, Independent Administrative Reform & Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), Ambassador at large for freedom of expression.