Vienna Forum Discusses New Standards for Afghanistan's Future: Focus on Inclusive Peace and Women

PeopleOther ♦ Published: December 7, 2023; 10:22 ♦ (Vindobona)

At the recent civil society forum held in Vienna ahead of the "3rd Vienna Conference for a Democratic Afghanistan", representatives of the Afghan diaspora from nine European countries met to discuss perspectives for the future of Afghanistan. The Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) hosted this important conference.

The civil society forum invited representatives of the Afghan diaspora from 9 European countries to Vienna and met in the run-up to the 3rd Vienna Conference for a Democratic Afghanistan. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons; BellalKhan, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED (

In her speech, Afghan human rights activist Hora Mosadiq emphasized the need to place women at the center of all negotiations. "We want to see an Afghanistan where women are at the center of all negotiations," said Mosadiq, who advocates for women's rights and participation in the Afghan peace process.

The 40 participants, including peace researchers, human rights and women's rights defenders, discussed possibilities for inclusive peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. A central focus was on the need to improve coordination and structured cooperation between diaspora organizations, NGOs and international actors.

The results of the forum were presented to opposition representatives at the 3rd Conference for a Democratic Afghanistan. The main demands included ensuring the participation of all Afghans, regardless of their ethnic and linguistic diversity, and the inclusion of Afghan youth in the peace process. The importance of equal participation of women in peace negotiations was particularly emphasized.

The Vienna Forum thus provided important impetus for the further development of the peace process in Afghanistan. The demands for inclusivity and a stronger role for women could point the way for Afghanistan's future direction.

Afghanistan: Between the Taliban and the future

The current situation in Afghanistan, especially since the Taliban took power in August 2021, is characterized by a number of profound challenges. These include human rights violations, economic crises, security threats and restrictions on media freedom.

The Taliban have introduced numerous rules and policies that violate the basic rights of women and girls, including their freedom of movement, their right to work and education, and their access to healthcare. In addition, the media and critics of the Taliban government have been suppressed, and civil society organizations and government offices promoting human rights have been closed.

Afghanistan is experiencing a growing economic crisis, characterized by massive cuts in development aid, a liquidity crisis, rising prices for essential goods and restrictions affecting the banking sector. Over 90 percent of the Afghan population was affected by food insecurity in 2022, and millions of children suffered from acute malnutrition. Women and girls have been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis, as many of them have been forced out of paid work.

The Taliban have carried out acts of revenge, arbitrary killings and enforced disappearances of former government officials and security personnel. In addition, individuals alleged to be members of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) have been summarily executed. ISKP, for its part, has carried out numerous bombings and armed attacks, particularly against the Hazara minority, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries.

The Taliban have taken extensive censorship measures against Afghan media, resulting in the closure of hundreds of media outlets and the loss of jobs for about 80 percent of female journalists in the country. These restrictions on media freedom are particularly devastating for women journalists, who were already facing greater challenges.

In this context, the issues discussed at the civil society forum in Vienna are of great importance. The emphasis on the role of women in negotiations and peace processes, the inclusion of all ethnic and linguistic groups in Afghanistan as well as the Afghan youth in peace dialogues are crucial to find an inclusive and sustainable solution to the multi-layered challenges in Afghanistan.


Human Rights Watch