Human Rights First Calls on Biden Administration to Center Human Rights in Withdrawal of Troops from Afghanistan

President Biden announced that the United States would withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. While Human Rights First has repeatedly called for a repeal of the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations of Use of Military Force (AUMF), American withdrawal from Afghanistan poses significant risks to the human rights of Afghan civilians and allies. The Biden administration must prioritize the protection of Afghans’ human rights amid the withdrawal and afterward, including rapidly meeting its obligations to Afghan allies in need of U.S. refugee protection.

“Decades of conflict in Afghanistan have led to numerous human rights violations and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. The war-based approach to national security that has defined the post-9/11 era should end. But we must acknowledge that American withdrawal will almost certainly further jeopardize the human rights of vulnerable Afghans. This is a tragic and painful reality, but a reality nonetheless,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Mike Breen, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. “It is imperative that the Biden administration prioritize the protection of Afghan civilians and meet its obligations to the interpreters, translators, and wartime allies who have faithfully served the United States.”

The U.S. government must ensure that the human rights of all Afghans are respected and protected after our withdrawal. The 17,000 Afghans still remaining in the Special Immigrant Visa pipeline should be resettled as soon as possible. More broadly, the United States must focus on ensuring human rights for all Afghans, including millions of women and young girls, which have been hard-won over these last 20 years.

Ending America’s “forever wars” will take more than ending deployments; it demands an end to the costly war-based approach to national security that has defined the post-9/11 era. Among other things, the United States must shift away from war-based detention, trial, and lethal force, and instead prioritize the use of diplomatic, law enforcement, intelligence, development, and other resources to mitigate security concerns, including the threat of terrorism.

Human Rights First also outlined our recommendations on ending America’s endless wars in Walking the Talk, our blueprint for the incoming administration, and in a series of recommendations with partner organizations.

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