The latest: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday asked Secretary General Antonio Guterres to provide an independent assessment on how to deal with Afghanistan’s Taliban administration and develop a “coherent and integrated approach” to address the challenges facing the country, including its crackdown on women and girls’ rights.
- Resolution 2679 was authored by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Japan, the two penholders of the Afghan file at the Security Council.
- The 15-member council unanimously adopted a resolution that requires Guterres to submit a report to it by November 17 with “forward-looking recommendations for an integrated and coherent approach among relevant political, humanitarian and development actors, within and outside of the United Nations”.
- It added that the report should follow consultations with “all relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders, including relevant authorities, Afghan women, and civil society, as well as the region and the wider international community”.
- UAE UN Ambassador Lana Nussiebeh said that the “status quo is not sustainable”. “The council is taking a careful and measured response to a difficult crisis with outside expertise and fresh thinking and essentially saying that a business as usual approach is not sufficient to Afghanistan,” Nusseibah said.
- The Security Council expressed concern in the resolution at the lack of progress made by the Taliban on its expectations. It emphasised the importance of the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and upholding human rights, including those of women, children, minorities and persons in vulnerable situations.
- Nusseibeh told fellow council members after the vote that “in requesting this assessment, the Security Council is not only demonstrating its deep concern with the alarming trajectory in Afghanistan, but also choosing to do something about it.”
- She added that “without a persistent and coordinated international effort, the status quo that contributed to the worst women’s rights crisis in the world is likely to continue.
- She noted criticism that there is no international strategy to deal with Afghanistan’s challenges and crises.
Back story: Taliban fighters took control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, on August 15, 2021, after US and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. They have since then enacted a series of edicts denying women and girls access to education beyond the sixth grade, and banning women from working for humanitarian organizations, among other restrictions of their rights.
- As the Taliban did during their previous rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they gradually reimposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.
- Multiple international efforts to persuade the Taliban rescind their bans have failed.
Zoom out: This comes even as a second resolution has also been adopted during the meet wherein the United Nations Security Council unanimously extended the mandate for its assistance mission in Afghanistan for a year.
- The resolution extends the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) until March 17, 2024.
- The resolution calls on all relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders, as well as international actors to coordinate with the mission in the implementation of its mandate and to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of the UN and associated personnel throughout the country.
- “Today’s unanimous decision to renew UNAMA’s robust mandate sends a clear message: the international community will not abandon women and girls,” UK’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the Security Council after the adoption of the resolution.
- Nasir Ahmad Faiq, Afghanistan’s representative to the United Nations, has said that UNAMA should pave the way for political dialogue to form an inclusive rule. He told the Security Council that the Taliban have appeared incapable of addressing the current crisis, breaking the deadlock and working constructively to meet national and international demands, forming an inclusive government, generalizing humanitarian policies and recognizing women’s participation in all social aspects, as well as fulfilling the promise of counterterrorism efforts.
- Ishikane Kimihiro, Japan’s permanent representative to the UN, welcomed the unanimous adoption of the resolution, and said that the council’s support for the UN assistance mission comes at a time of “enormous challenges confronting Afghanistan and its people, including the dire humanitarian and economic situation, the persistent threat of terrorism, and above all, the depreciation of opportunities for women and girls in education and employment.”
- Nusseibeh said the council’s unanimous extension of the UNAMA’s mandate highlights its “strong and unified message: Afghanistan, and in particular its women and girls, will not be abandoned.”