The delegate warns that isolation will only push the Taliban into more extreme positions.
Focusing on the Taliban’s continued repression of the media and civil society, the senior UN official in Afghanistan told the Security Council today that all Afghans must be represented and able to participate in the country’s decision-making processes, underscoring the ongoing dialogue with the de facto. authorities are needed to ensure a better future for Afghans.
Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said what struck her most during her visit to many parts of the country was the misery for so many Afghans living. in great poverty and their uncertainty about the future. Detailing the authorities’ de facto crackdown on media and civil society, she said the Taliban reject the need for any intra-Afghan dialogue and claim their government is sufficiently representative.
“The only way forward for Afghanistan is through more pluralistic politics where all Afghans, especially women and minorities, see themselves represented and have a real voice in decision-making,” she said. Noting a series of decrees particularly harmful to women, she reported that as of November 9, women have been banned from visiting most public parks, bathhouses, and gymnasiums. Preventing secondary education is extremely unpopular among Afghans and even within the Taliban leadership, and has been criticized by the entire Islamic world. But it remains in effect, causing damage today that will be felt far into the future, she warned.
“We do not see eye to eye with the Taliban on a number of issues, but the focus is, and should be, on maintaining a dialogue in the hope of a better future for Afghanistan, where everyone – women, men, girls and boys – can live a life with dignity and equality.” Reaffirming UNAMA’s commitment to this end, she warned that any positive economic development may not be sustainable if the real concerns of Afghans, including the ban on girls’ education, lack of health facilities, mental health problems, poverty and economic insecurity, and discrimination against ethnic minorities, are addressed does not.
Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Relief Coordinator, said 97 percent of Afghans live in poverty, two-thirds of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance and 20 million people face acute hunger. Half the population is in urgent need of access to clean water and sanitation, 1.1 million teenage girls are still banned from school, and nearly 7 million Afghan nationals remain in neighboring countries. The UN Cash Facility has brought in at least $1.8 billion in 2022, and the humanitarian exception adopted by resolution 2615 (2021) has played a crucial facilitating role.
Ruchira Kamboj ( India ), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011), noting that 60 United Nations-sanctioned individuals occupy cabinet and senior positions in the Taliban administration, said that relations between the Taliban and Al -Qaida remains close. The Committee’s sanctions measures strive for a peaceful Afghanistan by deterring support for terrorist entities, she argued, welcoming the Council’s decision to extend the mandate of the Committee and its monitoring team to oversee the implementation of sanctions measures and support peace and reconciliation. process in the country.
Mahbouba Seraj, Afghan women’s human rights defender and executive director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Center, said women are literally being erased from public life, down to the beheading of female mannequins in shop windows. Over 700 days have passed and Afghan girls have not yet been allowed to return to school. Women must cover their faces when they go out in public and they cannot go out without a male guardian. Also, women who used to be the sole breadwinners in their families can no longer go to their offices or workplaces. She sounded the alarm over the dire economic and humanitarian situation in the country and requested the Council to continue providing life-saving assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
In the ensuing debate, council members united in their hope for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, but continued to diverge on what should be the international community’s level of engagement with the Taliban, citing its failure to fulfill its commitments. Speakers expressed serious concern about the increasing restrictions on the rights of women and girls, the threat of terrorism and the dire humanitarian situation in the country.
Anniken Huitfeldt, Norway’s foreign minister, said her country has sponsored the Afghanistan file in the Council for the past two years and has been focused on strengthening international support for the Afghan people. Furthermore, it has been at the forefront of arguing for continued contact with the Taliban, stressing the need to talk to those in power but with open eyes and avoid giving legitimacy to the Taliban. As instability in Afghanistan is a threat to international peace and security, the Council must remain united in support of the Afghan people.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates similarly said that it is tempting for the international community to close engagement and isolate the rulers, given recent developments and the lack of response from the de facto authorities. However, isolation will only entrench positions and push the Taliban into more extreme positions. The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan “continues on a downward trajectory” and requires a decisive response from the Council, she stressed.
Kenya’s representative pointed out that Afghanistan remains a haven for terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, whose affiliates such as Al-Shabaab have subjected millions of civilians in the Horn of Africa to untold fear and suffering. How the world reacts to the situation in Afghanistan thus has direct consequences for security in the Horn of Africa. If the Taliban expects to gain international recognition, it must ensure continued peace and security in Afghanistan and ensure that the country is not a haven for any terrorist groups.
The representative of the United States said his country remains steadfast in holding the Taliban accountable to their obligations to the Afghan people and the international community, including combating terrorism in accordance with the Doha Agreement. In addition, the Taliban must allow safe passage and freedom of movement, make efforts to build an inclusive system that gives the people a voice in their political future, and take responsibility for efforts aimed at supporting economic stability. The United States has provided more than $1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance since August 2021 and will continue to meet the needs of vulnerable Afghans inside the country and those who have fled to neighboring countries.
Countering this perspective, the representative of the Russian Federation said that Western colleagues, led by the United States, are giving away money by blaming the Taliban for the current situation in Afghanistan. Efforts by the United States and other major donors to use Afghan funds as a basis for solving problems are immoral, he said, calling for the immediate return of stolen funds to the Afghan people. To build lasting peace in the country, it remains imperative to continue the pragmatic dialogue with the new authorities and patiently work with Afghans to create a state that is politically and ethnically inclusive, free of terrorism and narcotics, economically stable and developed and which respects and protects the rights of all its citizens.
Representatives of neighboring countries, including Iran, Kazakhstan and Pakistan, then took the floor, and the representative of Uzbekistan proposed a high-level international negotiating group on the solution in Afghanistan. The group will provide a unique platform for dialogue, conveying the demands of the international community and serious concerns regarding violations of international norms, with a view to helping the Taliban gradually normalize its relations with the world, he said.
Afghanistan’s representative said there was no hope for positive change and progress in the overall social, economic, security and political situation in his country because of the Taliban, who had returned to the draconian, cruel and inhumane practices of their previous rule. Respect for human rights and embracing the political, social and civil rights of all Afghans, including the participation of women and girls in all facets of society, should be a non-negotiable prerequisite for any engagement. “It is time for the international community, regional countries, international donors and Afghans at home and abroad to come together to resume political settlement negotiations,” he said, urging the Council to unite and reach consensus to restore peace and stability in his country.
Also speaking today were representatives of Gabon, China, Brazil, Albania, Ireland, Mexico, Great Britain, Ghana, France and India.
The representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates took the floor for the second time.
The meeting began at 10.37 and ended at 13.51