Defending Human Rights From Exile: A Report on the Challenges and Opportunities of Afghan HRDs in Re-establishing and Operating their NGOs in Canada, Europe, the UK, and the US

Number of pages: 31

Publisher: Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Country: Sweden

ISBN: 978-91-86910-59-4

Background: After the fall of Kabul by the Taliban in August 2021, many Afghan HRDs were relocated abroad, particularly to Europe, the US, the UK, and Canada. Some of these HRDs have already attempted to rebuild their NGOs and work for human rights in Afghanistan while in exile, but they have encountered significant challenges in doing so.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to ascertain: First, what challenges and opportunities Afghan HRDs face in re-establishing and operating their NGOs in exile; and second, to determine what recommendations are appropriate to address these challenges.
Method: In July and August 2022, a series of interviews were conducted with Afghan HRDs who were directors of their NGOs and have already re-established or are in the process of re-establishing their NGOs in Europe, the US, the UK, and Canada.

Results: The study found that the issues Afghan HRDs face are primarily obtaining appropriate human and financial resources, as well as technical and operational challenges. However, they see their motivation and commitment to human rights change in Afghanistan and the potential support they would receive from INGOs; the chance to observe and document human rights violations; the chance to organise artistic events on human rights while in exile; and the chance to advocate for human rights change outside Afghanistan as potential opportunities.

Conclusion: Despite the challenges, Afghan HRDs in exile also have great proficiency, such as the knowledge and experience gained from 20 years of working for human rights in Afghanistan; they are motivated by and committed to improving the human rights of their people; and they have platforms on which to work and advocate for Afghanistan when in their countries of exile. Hence, receiving support would be beneficial not only for Afghanistan now, but also the future when the situation improves and they can return. However, if they are unable to re-establish themselves as HRDs and their NGOs while in exile, they will most likely migrate to other walks of life; their expertise would thus be wasted and Afghanistan would lose the potential positive effects these HRDs could help bring about.

Recommendations: Afghan HRDs must first reconvene and work on different platforms. It is recommended that donor agencies, and INGOs in particular, provide legal, financial and technical support through capacity- building strategies, such as fiscal sponsorship and/or secondment programmes for Afghan HRDs to monitor and document human rights violations, organise artistic events for human rights, and advocate for change, especially for the opening of civic space, and so keep the flame of human rights alive for Afghanistan

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