Twenty years of military occupation failed, there is chaos in Kabul, the Taliban are back in power, and there is no new strategy. Afghan women that promoted change will be a target.
This short note summarizes the only option to protect Afghan women and girls: crimes against them could be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor. Whether you like it or not, the ICC is the only possible solution to protect women and girls in Afghanistan in 2021. You can help to safeguard their rights.
Let’s go over some facts first.
Image of David Mark in Pixabay
WHY THE ICC COULD INTERVENE IN AFGHANISTAN
The ICC could intervene because the Afghan government decided to become a state party in 2003. This decision took place under the leadership of the then minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Abdullah. There was a debate in the Court and finally the Appeal Chamber authorized the Prosecutor to open the investigation in March 2020.
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan already mentioned the possibility of investigating “persecution of women and girls” in Afghanistan (www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=210817-otp-statement). He needs evidence. Victims, NGOs, and states, including the US, could provide evidence of Taliban’s crimes to the ICC Prosecutor.
The judicial process will take at least months, but it should start now. If you can help to obtain the evidence, like testimony or footage, you can help make the process shorter. As soon as the ICC Prosecutor collects enough evidence, he could present it to the judges, who could then issue arrest warrants. None of this will be automatic. It will happen only if the judges and the Prosecutor decide to do it.
POLITICIANS AND DIPLOMATS SHOULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ICC AS A LEVERAGE MECHANISM
Political leaders, including from the US, the UK, France, China, Russia, Pakistan, and Qatar, don’t need to wait—they can influence the Taliban today.
You can ask them to do it.
Politicians and diplomats should take advantage of the ICC as a leverage mechanism and press the Taliban government to respect citizen rights, in particular, those of children and women. Without this pressure, diplomacy will be useless. The ICC is the only pressure point. The Taliban won the war.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN THE ICC INTERVENTION?
The US and other states could start to plan how to implement the potential ICC arrest warrants. They can analyze how to conduct special operations to execute the Court’s decision. The chase of Joseph Kony is a good precedent.
All the crimes committed over the course of the coming months could be investigated. A Taliban government can engage the international community or can withdraw from the ICC. Still, such a decision will not stop the current investigation. According to Article 127 of the Rome Statute, the decision to withdraw shall take effect only one year after its adoption.