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Cablegate: Mfa's Demarche On Afghanistan's Unohchr Candidate

VZCZCXRO6359
OO RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0892 1040555
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 130555Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3565
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 000892

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A
STATE FOR IO/RHS DOUGLAS ROHN AND REBECCA JOVIN
STATE FOR DRL AMY SCHMISSEUR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM AF
SUBJECT: MFA'S DEMARCHE ON AFGHANISTAN'S UNOHCHR CANDIDATE


1. (SBU) MFA Minister Spanta called in Charg to inform him
that Afghanistan wants Dr. Sima Samar, currently Chair of the
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), to
be considered as candidate for the UN Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR). Spanta used his
meeting with Assistant Secretary Boucher on April 12 to
reiterate his appeal for U.S. support for Samar's candidacy.
The Foreign Minister highlighted to both the Charg and
Assistant Secretary Boucher that Samar being selected would
be good for Afghanistan, good for human rights, good for the
UN, and good for the West. He told the Charg he was meeting
with all other missions to ask for support for her candidacy.
Charg and Assistant Secretary Boucher assured Spanta that
the U.S. would give serious consideration to her candidacy.

2. (SBU) Spanta underlined his strong personal support for
her candidacy, noting she is "Muslim, female, pro-democracy,
and a friend of the West." He summarized Samar's
qualifications. She is a trained physician who fled to
Pakistan after her husband was killed by the Soviets during
their occupation of Afghanistan. Following 17 years in
exile, where she ran a regional NGO, Samar served as
Vice-President during the Interim Administration of
Afghanistan and was elected Vice-Chair of the Loya Jirga
Assembly. She was Afghanistan's first Minister of Women's
Affairs before President Karzai asked her to Head the AIHRC.
She has since worked as UN Special Rapporteur on the
Situation in Sudan.

3. (SBU) SRSG Kai Eide was also approached by Spanta and,
according to Deputy SRSG, gave the Foreign Minister a
positive response. UNAMA has been a strong supporter of
Samar's candidacy from the beginning. They say her work as
the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights
for Sudan (since August 2005) has been very effective despite
trying circumstances. UNAMA's only secondary concern is who
would replace her as head of the AIHRC. But, as they note,
several of the younger AIHRC commissioners are viewed as very
good candidates of very high calibre for the position.

4. (SBU) As head of the AIHRC, Samar has proven herself to
be both a strong advocate of human rights and a savvy
political operator. She has continued to be an effective
voice for human rights in Afghanistan, even in the face of
sometimes vicious opposition from opponents, including
warlords with deplorable human rights records who are now
entrenched in Parliament. While these opponents would be
happy to see her outside of Afghanistan, her being named as
Commissioner would represent a commitment by Afghanistan to
human rights that would reinforce the efforts of the AIHRC
here.

5. (SBU) Samar's bio, which was passed to us by the MFA, has
been sent to the Desk via email.
DELL

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