On 26-27th July 2023, RWI, the US Institute of Peace and the Afghanistan Human Rights Coordination Mechanism at Freedom House co-organised a roundtable at the USIP premises in Washington DC for US- and Canada-based organisations that in different ways engage in documentation of human rights violations in Afghanistan. Approximately 50 participants joined the event onsite and online.
The roundtable mirrored an RWI roundtable in Lund on the same topic, both aiming for information-sharing among initiatives to recognise and address challenges and to identify opportunities for coordination and collaboration that may strengthen impact. The two roundtables also aimed to increase awareness of the documentation standards of key UN mechanisms and of the ICC, with a view to facilitate cooperation and good practices.
Discussions in Washington DC ranged from broad concepts such as the purposes of documentation which partly represent pathways toward accountability, to more specific areas such as standards of verification, protection of witnesses, UN mechanisms, ICC and universal jurisdiction open-source verification, use of digital technology, preservation, and archiving. Experiences from other settings such as Syria and Colombia were shared. Gender persecution was also discussed in a separate session, while yet another dealt with the importance of self-care, and of recognizing and addressing signs of stress in documenting violations.
Action points based on roundtable sessions will be developed in the coming weeks. These are expected to feed into plans for RWI’s future work on Afghanistan as well as to collaborative initiatives between organisations represented in the roundtable. The RWI online forum established to support roundtable outcomes will remain open until the end of 2023 to facilitate continued discussions until action points are confirmed and concrete activities agreed.