The Vienna Conference’s third round, attended by political figures, representatives of various parties, officials from the previous government of Afghanistan, and some civil and media activists, concluded yesterday with the issuance of a statement. Over three days, participants deliberated on the future of democratic Afghanistan, the creation of a unified political framework, and the roadmap for political dialogues. The final statement underscored the importance of realizing democracy, respecting human rights, and ensuring national unity in Afghanistan. The declaration highlighted agreed-upon points, including garnering support from the United Nations and the international community, backing people’s resistance to the right to self-determination, combating terrorism, documenting human rights violations, and outlining a roadmap for a democratic Afghanistan.
In the statement issued after the third round of The Vienna Conference, participants emphasized the establishment of a democratic Afghanistan, following extensive discussions aimed at realizing the fundamental aspirations of the Afghan people. They underscored the commitment to democracy, respect for human rights, ensuring national unity, and supporting the people’s resistance to their right to self-determination.
This conference took place from the third to the fifth of December 2023 at the venue of the “Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogues” in Vienna. Participants reaffirmed their commitment to the statements of the first and second rounds of the Vienna Conference. They stated their dedication to the principles of democracy, human rights, and national unity as the foundational elements of a democratic system for Afghanistan.
In a section of this statement, emphasis has been placed on the central role of the United Nations and the mobilization of global support. Participants have called on the United Nations to take practical steps towards “ensuring freedom, peace, stability, democracy, human rights, rule of law, and the continued equitable distribution of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.”
The statement explicitly states that the United Nations should prioritize addressing the fundamental aspirations of the Afghan people, resolving political issues, and ensuring the legitimacy of governance. Any interaction with the Taliban, according to the participants, should be contingent upon progress in realizing the presented demands. They stated that the United Nations should play an increasing role in reviewing and implementing Security Council sanctions against the Taliban.
The statement also strongly emphasizes support for the people’s right to resist in Afghanistan. The text of the statement reads: “We declare our unwavering support for the people’s resistance to their right to self-determination, based on the Charter of the United Nations, and their self-defense in Afghanistan. We express our support for their just aspirations to establish a peaceful system based on their free will and declare our backing for their fair fight against Taliban oppression and the assurance of their rights.”
Another pillar of this statement is the fight against terrorism, with Vienna Conference participants calling for coordinated efforts by regional and global countries in all its forms. They stated that considering the increasing activities of regional and international terrorist groups in Afghanistan, actions in this regard should be taken based on United Nations Security Council resolutions and international conventions.
This statement calls on the United Nations, human rights organizations, and international criminal courts to investigate and document all cases of human rights violations and crimes against humanity. These cases encompass mass killings, forced displacement, and the unlawful seizure of land and property owned by indigenous residents. The focus lies on recognizing and exposing human rights violations as a fundamental aspect of ensuring justice.
The participants continue to call for the support of Islamic countries and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the struggle for women’s rights and advocate for a clear stance against the Taliban’s misinterpretation of Islam.
In a section of this statement, it is stated, “We have developed a roadmap for overcoming the current crisis and initiating a positive and rapid change in Afghanistan. We call for international support for this roadmap and urge organizations, personalities, and political parties in Afghanistan to join this process.”
At the end of this statement, appreciation is expressed for the Austrian Insitute for International Affairs, the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, and other civil institutions in Austria for their support in organizing this conference.
Meanwhile, in a press briefing, Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), characterized the conclusion of the Vienna Conference as a positive initiation toward establishing a shared understanding among all political groups in Afghanistan. He highlighted a significant outcome of this conference: the coordination and close agreement among nearly 50 political groups and participating figures of the country.
According to Mr. Massoud, the roadmap presented at this conference outlines a comprehensive political framework for Afghanistan, encompassing all the capacities of the Afghan people and the future roadmap of the country. It ensures that the opinion of any specific political faction or entity is not imposed on anyone. He continued to emphasize armed resistance, stating, “The Taliban have left no option but for the people to defend themselves.”
On the other hand, Mohammad Alam Izdyar, former First Deputy Speaker of the House of Elders (Meshrano Jirga) of the previous government of Afghanistan and a member of the leadership of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), told the Hasht-e Subh Daily that the leadership of this front and its supporters played a pivotal role in this conference. Mr. Izdyar adds that during the three days of discussions about Afghanistan and ways to overcome the current dilemma, and how international cooperation should take place, the participants have reached an understanding on creating a roadmap.
He asserts that a notable aspect of this conference involves the required flexibility of political movements and figures in creating a unified political framework. According to him, there is a consensus to form a commission dedicated to developing an alternative structure and broadening the scope of these discussions. He underscores that the alternative plan for Afghanistan will receive political support from the international community.
However, Aliya Yilmaz, a professor at Suleyman Demirel University in Turkey and a participant in The Vienna Conference, told the Hasht-e Subh Daily that the focus of these sessions is highlighting the existing security threats and humanitarian disasters for Afghanistan, the region, and the world. Ms. Yilmaz adds, “Internal political-military figures who, like in the past, can coordinate resources in this sensitive period, including Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum and other prominent figures, can play constructive roles in addressing the Afghan issue peacefully by utilizing available tools in coordination with other stakeholders regionally and globally.”
This Vienna Conference participant emphasizes that defining common security-political interests, identifying economic priorities, and focusing on institutionalizing social-cultural values can provide a basis for understanding among stakeholders in Afghan affairs. According to Ms. Yilmaz, increasing political and economic pressures relying on the influence of regional and global powers encourages mutual acceptance among stakeholders, especially the Taliban, and prevents the emergence and escalation of conflicts, sparing the people from being the main victims. She states that intellectual coherence, unity, and focusing on mobilizing opposing political figures to the Taliban for a unified political umbrella will compel the Taliban to accept peaceful solutions for the current issue of Afghanistan.
It should be noted that participants in the Vienna Conference have engaged in discussions over the past three days in various panels regarding the future of Afghanistan, mobilizing political forces opposing the Taliban, creating a unified political umbrella, and outlining a roadmap. They have also deliberated on how the international community and the United Nations can support political forces that believe in elections and the people’s right to self-determination.
Participants in this conference continue to commend the struggles of women and their resilience in defending their rights, emphasizing comprehensive support for their demands.