The Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN) aims to contribute to a society based on democracy and the rule of law in accordance with human rights, where all people are aware of their rights and dare to claim them through the rule of law.
To this end, CSHRN is working to establish a capable human rights movement. By this it aims at increasing the understanding and the respect for human rights and the rule of law for everybody in Afghanistan.
The Civil Society and Human Rights network consists of 58 Afghan organizations which are active in the promotion of human rights. The member organizations have so far all their main offices in Kabul but have representatives also in other regions of Afghanistan. Besides its member organizations, CSHRN works together with over one hundred partner organizations in different regions of Afghanistan.
The overall decision making body of the network is the General Assembly, which consists of the representatives of all member organizations. It develops and updates the strategy CSHRN has chosen to develop a strong human rights movement in Afghanistan.
In addition, it conducts at least one yearly meeting, where it discusses the activities carried out by CSHRN during the past year and elects the CSHRN Board.
1. What is CSHRN?
CSHRN is an umbrella for civil society organizations that work for human rights, democracy, respect for the rule of law, and for a state committed to a culture of human rights. CSHRN was established in August 2004 through the collaboration of 28 human rights NGOs in Kabul city.
2. Why does this organization calls itself a network?
CSHRN calls itself a network because it coordinates and collaborates among human rights organizations in order to develop a realistic strategy for strengthening human rights in Afghanistan. Thanks to the network member organizations, which include different types of organizations, a wide circle of interested partners can be activated in order to advance human rights in Afghanistan.
The main goal of the network is to promote human rights and to strengthen civil society in Afghanistan. Therefore, the doors of the network are open to those organizations that are interested in cooperating for this purpose. CSHRN also promotes human rights within state institutions in collaboration with the state. Likewise, CSHRN provides the conditions for a constructive dialogue among civil society and state institutions with regard to human rights issues.
3. What is the difference between AIHRC and CSHRN?
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) is a national human rights institution. The mandate of this organization is to monitor and to promote human rights and to report human rights violations. In Afghanistan, where human rights violations are very severe and frequent, civil society organizations can play an important role in promoting and monitoring human rights. Therefore, CSHRN was established to support human rights and to strengthen the role of NGOs in the promotion of human rights. Consequently, CSHRN is a coordination center for civil society organizations, which works in a complementary way to AIHRC for the promotion of human rights in Afghanistan.
4. Does CSHRN work with the State?
CSHRN promotes human rights in Afghanistan through working with NGOs, state institutions, and academic circles. From the beginning on, CSHRN has involved state institutions in a dialogue as well as in capacity building programs. CSHRN works specifically with those state institutions that are daily involved in human rights in Afghanistan, such as the Police, the Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the General Prosecution Office and the Ministry of Culture and Information.
5. Does CSHRN work only in Kabul?
During the first two years, CSHRN only carried out activities in Kabul, but at the same time, it started to pave the way for its activities in the provinces. From August 2005 onwards, CSHRN organized some educational programs in the provinces. Today, CSHRN works in three regions and has regional offices in Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat. Unfortunately, CSHRN could not open a regional office in the south of Afghanistan, due to security reasons.
6. What are the membership procedures of CSHRN? Can an individual citizen become a member of the network?
CSHRN is a center for human rights organizations. That is why only NGOS that work for the promotion of human rights can become members of the network. However, CSHRN works with a number of individual intellectual, who form an expert circle. They support the network during consultative meetings and gatherings. They equally participate in the general assembly of the network, but they are not entitled to vote.
So far, the membership for the network is free.
7. Who is the president of the network?
CSHRN is a democratic organization with the General Assembly as its highest organ. The General Assembly, consisting of all the member organizations, meets once a year in order to approve the annual activity report of the network. The Steering Committee is democratically elected by the General Assembly. During the year, the Steering Committee monitors the activities of the network.
The network has an executive secretariat, that implements the programs of CSHRN. Mr. Mohammad Naim Nazari is the Coordinator, Mr. Wazir Ahmad Khorami the Head of the Capacity Building Section, Mr. Ahmad Sayer Lalee the Head of the Finance and Administration section, Mrs. Gul Bashra the Officer in charge of the Educational Unit and Mrs. Frozan Arezo in charge of the Resource Center. In the regions, Dr. Niamatullah Hamdard is the coordinator for the eastern regions, Mr. Soroush Kazemi for the northern and northeastern regions and Mrs. Aziza Khairandish for the western regions.
CSHRN works in accordance with democratic principles and in a transparent and accountable way.
8. Who are the donors of the network?
CSHRN is supported by the Danish and the Swiss governments. With the cooperation of its donors, CSHRN provides regularly financial reports about its activities in a transparent and accountable way.
However, CSHRN is an independent organization that designs its own strategy, its goals, its vision and mission. The financial and the activity reports are available for all member organizations.
9. Have international experts been involved in building the capacities of the network in Afghanistan?
CSHRN cooperates with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and the Society for Threatened Peoples Switzerland (STP), two professional human rights organizations. Mr. Malek Mohammad Sitez, a human rights expert from DIHR and Mrs. Regula Hafner, an expert in the field of capacity building from STP, are the advisors of the network and provide international expertise.
The development of CSHRN can be divided into four phases:
Identification phase: July 2002 – July 2004
During the identification phase, the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) together with local partners was analyzing the situation of human rights and civil society in Afghanistan. Through dialogue and brainstorming, ideas were developed on what could be done to strengthen human rights in the country. DIHR conducted three identification missions to Afghanistan during this period. At the same time, two capacity building programs for women organizations were organized.
1. Phase: August 2004 – June 2006
During this period, the structure of the network was organized and first activities in the field of human rights carried. It was in its establishment as well as in its professional development by DIHR and in specific fields also with the support of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). The necessary funding was mostly provided by the Danish Government (DANIDA); the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provided very specific funding for the first human rights manual.
CSHRN as a network among 25 Afghan human rights and civil society organizations with proper statutes was established in August 2004. In this phase, CSHRN concentrated on capacity building and public awareness raising in the field of human rights as well as coordination among the different devil society and human rights organizations. It developed a human rights radio program and several publications and training material on human rights for this purpose.
Due to the still limited capacities of the network as well as the member organisations, the activities were concentrated in Kabul, although already human rights activists from the regions got invited. Around 60 organisations were members of the network during this phase.
2. Phase: July 2006 – December 2008
In this phase, a major focus was put on expanding the activities of CSHRN to the eastern, the northern and the western part of Afghanistan and coordination facilities were established in Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad.
An overall strategy for the network was established in order to provide a framework for the activities of the network that makes it effective in the reaching its goals. This strategy has been continuously further developed during the second phase.
The fields of work continued to be concentrated on coordination and capacity building. Besides thematic issues, also institutional capacity building took place during this phase. The coordination was expanded not only to include human rights organizations, but also coordinate between civil society and state institutions. Work had also started in indirect advocacy, through influencing new laws to be in accordance to international human rights standards and to work with parliamentarians and media.
The professional for the network was provided by DIHR and STP, the funding by DANIDA and SDC.
3. Phase January 2009 to December 2011
During this phase, the work on capacity building will be stronger focused women rights and on monitoring and reporting about the implementation of human rights in Afghanistan. The coordination will be further strengthened in the central area of Afghanistan and the coordination and cooperation with ACSF and AIHRC will be further clarified and made effective. Efforts in the field of advocacy will include work against family violence and access to information. The publication and media efforts will be continued and further expanded.
The professional support is provided for this phase by DIHR, while STP is giving specific input regarding institutional capacities and project management. The overall funds come from DANIDA and SDC, but certain smaller projects are directly funded by additional donors.