UN Security Council Meeting On Afghanistan Concludes Without Clear Outcomes

Tuesday, 02/27/2024

The UN Security Council's session on Afghanistan, held on Tuesday behind closed doors, ended without any official announcement of specific results or decisions.

Sources told Afghanistan International that serious disagreements among the permanent members over engagement with the Taliban complicated the decision-making for the council.

Western Countries' Concerns

The sources mentioned that the USA, UK, and France opposed China and Russia's demands for expanding economic relations of neighbouring countries with the Taliban.

They argued that expanding relations before forming a global consensus on engagement with the Taliban would diminish the international community's leverage to influence Taliban policies.

China and Russia, have cordial relations with the Taliban and support the normalisation of relations and easing of sanctions against the group. However, they oppose the Western priority of human rights in relation with the Taliban.

The disagreements among members has prevented the Security Council from issuing a joint statement on the meeting's content and their expectations from the Taliban. Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, briefly mentioned in a press conference after the Security Council session that the Deputy Secretary-General presented a report on Afghanistan to the members, but refrained from providing further details about the meeting.

Human Rights and Women's Rights

As anticipated, some countries, including the rotating president of the Security Council, insisted on observing women's rights and establishing an inclusive government in Afghanistan during the session.

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, the rotating president of the Security Council, emphasised on the right to education, rights, and fundamental freedoms of women in Afghanistan.

The council's statement stressed that Afghanistan is a signatory to the Human Rights Declaration and a member of conventions on eliminating discrimination against women, children's rights, international civil rights covenants, and other human rights treaties.

Rodrigues-Birkett called on the Taliban to adhere to Afghanistan's international commitments.

Additionally, she strongly condemned the Taliban's enduring and structural gender discrimination and suppression of Afghan women and girls, urging the immediate repeal of all misogynistic policies and orders.

Meanwhile, sources told Aref Yaqubi, Afghanistan International's correspondent at the UN headquarters, that the USA, UK, Switzerland, France, South Korea, Japan, Malta, Sierra Leone, and Slovenia issued a joint statement after Monday’s session.

These countries also underscored human rights values in Afghanistan.

Special Representative

Sources indicated that appointing a special representative, who would be responsible for dealing with the Taliban on behalf of the international community with the support of countries involved in Afghanistan, was a significant topic of the session.

The Taliban have opposed the appointment of a special representative, asserting that with UNAMA's presence in Afghanistan, there is no need for another UN representative. The Taliban's Deputy Foreign Minister stated this week that Afghanistan's situation is not critical, hence the UN should not appoint a special envoy.

However, the UN Secretary-General's spokesperson stated in a press briefing that the issue of appointing a special UN representative for Afghanistan is being seriously pursued and work is ongoing.

Extension of UNAMA's Mission

Sources told Afghanistan International that participants in the Security Council session discussed UNAMA's mandates and operational structure and the special representative.

They also deliberated on extending UNAMA's mandate, which ends on March 17. UNAMA's one-year extension is expected and likely to be addressed in the next Security Council session in early March. Furthermore, according to sources, economic development, governance, aid delivery, and human rights in Afghanistan will also be discussed.

The session is expected to include the Secretary-General, the Special Coordinator, and representatives of aid organisations.

The inconclusive UN Security Council session indicates that after two years, the permanent members' positions on Afghanistan and the Taliban have not converged, and countries are reluctant to resolve differences.

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