World Learning More about Unchanged Nature of Taliban, Kabul Representative Says, as Speakers Demand End to Group’s Ties with Terrorists
The newly formed interim government in Afghanistan includes neither women nor minority leaders, but contains many figures who are on the United Nations Sanctions List, speakers in the Security Council said today, urging the now‑ruling Taliban to live up to their promises and establish a more inclusive and representative administration.
“The lives of millions of Afghans will depend on how the Taliban choose to govern,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), describing the all-male cabinet as “disappointing”. Of the 33 names presented, many are the same figures who were part of the Taliban leadership between 1996 and 2001, she added, noting that the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the foreign minister are under United Nations sanctions.
Although the 15-member Council must do something about those sanctioned individuals, Afghanistan’s current humanitarian situation cannot wait for such political decisions, she stated, emphasizing the immediate need to deliver, on a huge scale, the required aid in such areas as health, food security, non-food items and sanitation. Another crisis that must be avoided is economic collapse, she cautioned, stressing the need to resolve the issue of frozen overseas Afghan assets, while ensuring that those resources will not fall into the wrong hands.
“The best, and still possible outcome,” she continued, “would be for the Taliban to demonstrate that they seek to create an Afghanistan where people do not live in fear, where those with talents are invited to participate in rebuilding their country, and where boys and girls, young women and men, can receive the sort of education that will allow this development to continue”. The Afghan people will still need the support of the Council and the international community, she added.
Wazhma Frogh, founder of the Women and Peace Studies Organisation, said that, amid ongoing raids just yesterday, a 25-year-old policy specialist in the now-disbanded Ministry of Women’s Affairs had to burn her work and education certificates, including a copy of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Under Taliban rule, her best chance for a life is to burn those documents and disappear.
She recounted how she and 100 other women peacebuilders in Afghanistan initiated the first National Dialogue that brought all Afghans together. “We worked for the ceasefire and a national peace process,” she said, adding that they also reached out to local Taliban leaders and advocated for consideration of the grievances of suffering young people and families.
“In the end, we were betrayed by all, including the Afghan Government leadership,” she said. Urging the Council to include women in mediation teams, she requested that it facilitate a meeting between Afghan women from across the different professions — peacebuilders, judges, security officers, educators, doctors and businesswomen — and the Taliban.
Also briefing the Council was Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and civil society activist from Pakistan, who recounted what life was like in her hometown under Pakistani Taliban control. “I saw my home transformed from a place of peace to a place of fear in just three years,” she said, adding that thousands of people were displaced, while homes and schools were destroyed.
She went on to recall that, when she was 15 years old, a gunman stopped the bus in which she was riding, called out her name and fired a bullet at her, merely for having raised her voice in support of girls’ right to attend school. She added that now, at 24, she carries scars from the six surgeries she needed to recover. “This is a story that many Afghan girls may share if we do not act,” she warned, calling upon the Council to support Afghan women and girls in four ways.
The first is to send a clear and unequivocal message to the Taliban that a precondition of any working relationship is upholding the right of girls to education, she said. Second, support a robust monitoring mechanism to track and monitor human rights abuses in Afghanistan, with a specific focus on girls’ education. Third, significantly increase humanitarian and development aid to United Nations and other international organizations working to ensure that all schools can operate safely, including those in neighbouring countries hosting refugee children. And fourth, stand united as a Security Council in compelling the Taliban to “make real concessions”, she demanded.
In the ensuing discussion, most Council members, as well as representatives of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, emphasized that the Taliban will be judged by their actions, not by their words.
Afghanistan’s representative said the world is learning more about the true and unchanged nature of the Taliban day by day, noting that since the Council’s 30 August meeting on his country, the group has continued to commit human rights violations and possible war crimes, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The Taliban’s newly formed cabinet fails on all metrics of inclusivity and has been rejected by most Afghan people, he pointed out, warning that “a perfect storm is brewing”. Noting that the devastating impact of Afghanistan’s second major drought in four years is taking hold, a cold and dangerous winter approaching, the pandemic continuing to spread, the economy collapsing and no government in place to provide even the most basic services to people, he stressed: “The Afghan people need your help to survive.”
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, and Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, recalling from his country’s own experience that the full, equal and meaningful participation of women is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and political stability. “We owe this much to the women peacebuilders, who have given everything and are risking their lives for peace,” he emphasized. Noting that no evidence has yet emerged of a new approach by the Taliban, he said the new administration must adhere to its obligations under international law. The Taliban must also sever ties with all international terrorist organizations or continue to face sanction and isolation, he warned.
The representative of the United States, emphasizing that a new chapter of international engagement with Afghanistan has begun, said that, as the single largest donor to the country, Washington, D.C., is helping its implementing partners provide food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services and more to all those in need. He went on to stress that the Taliban must fully respect their obligations under international law, saying the United States will work with them should they uphold their commitments and demonstrate real inclusion.
The Russian Federation’s representative emphasized that it is not time to panic because the new caretaker government announced the end of hostilities, the restoration of order, a general amnesty for former Government officials and plans to eradicate narcotic drugs. The most pressing task is to provide timely humanitarian assistance to all those in urgent need, he said, warning against efforts by countries far from the region to hastily impose their own formulas.
Iran’s delegate said the current situation in Afghanistan is primarily the direct result of the intervention by the United States and other foreign forces and their irresponsible withdrawal. “When they entered Afghanistan, they brought catastrophe for Afghans, and when they withdrew, they left calamity for Afghans,” he added. Nearly 165,000 Afghans have been killed between 2001 and 2021, and the number of direct child casualties is estimated around 33,000, he noted, emphasizing that war crimes committed by foreign forces must not go unpunished.
Pakistan’s representative said that, behind Afghanistan, his country has suffered most from the conflict, with more than 80,000 nationals killed and thousands more injured in terrorist attacks. Pakistan’s economy has suffered dramatically, and it hosts more than 3 million Afghan refugees, he noted. He went on to read excerpts of an 8 September joint statement by neighbouring States, which calls upon the Taliban to embrace “moderate and sound” policies.
Also speaking were representatives of Estonia, Norway, United Kingdom, India, Niger (on behalf of Kenya, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), France, Mexico, Viet Nam, China, Turkey and Kazakhstan.
The meeting began at 3:14 p.m. and ended at 5:40 p.m.
DEBORAH LYONS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that, with the fall of Kabul on 15 August, that country’s people were confronted with a new, and for many, worrying reality. The lives of millions of Afghans will depend on how the Taliban choose to govern, she added, describing the de facto administration announced by the group as disappointing. There are no women on the list of names announced, no non-Taliban members, no figures from the former Government and no noted leaders of minority groups, she remarked, pointing out that it contains many of the same figures who were part of the Taliban leadership between 1996 and 2001. Of the 33 names presented, many are on the United Nations Sanctions List, including the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the foreign minister, she stated. The Council must decide which steps to take regarding the Sanctions List.
But, there is a pre-existing and deteriorating humanitarian crisis, mostly in rural areas, that cannot wait for political decisions, she said, emphasizing that, given the current situation, the role of the United Nations role must be clear and built on humanitarian imperatives. There is an immediate and pressing need to deliver, on a huge scale, the required humanitarian aid in areas such as health, food security, non-food items and sanitation. Another looming crisis is the economic slump, she stated, noting that members of the international community have frozen billions in assets and donor funds. Explaining that the understandable purpose is to deny those funds to the de facto Taliban administration, she cautioned that inevitable effect will be a severe economic downturn that could throw millions of people into poverty and hunger, generate a massive wave of refugees and set Afghanistan back for generations. A modus vivendi must be found, and quickly, that allows money to flow and prevent a total breakdown of the economy and social order, she stressed. Safeguards must be found to ensure that it is spent where it needs to be spent and not misused by the de facto authorities.
She reported that United Nations premises have been mostly respected, adding, however, that incidents of harassment and intimidation against its national staff are increasing. Expressing concern that former personnel of the national security and defence forces, as well as those who have worked as civil servants face reprisal killings, she said the United Nations is receiving increasing reports that the Taliban have prohibited females from appearing in public places without male chaperones and prevented women from working. They have also limited girls’ access to education and dismantled the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and targeted women’s non-governmental organizations.
It is important now that the region use its available mechanisms to not just speak with one voice, but act in concert for the benefit of the entire region, she continued, citing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — which is soon to meet in Dushanbe, Tajikistan — the Extended Troika format created by the Russian Federation, which last met in Qatar in August, and the regional foreign ministers meeting hosted by Pakistan, which took place today. But, it is also important that the wider international community not become irrevocably divided over Afghanistan, she warned, stressing that there is a more urgent agenda for regional and international cooperation around Afghanistan, a key part of which is counter‑terrorism. Al-Qaida members remain in in the country, visibly welcomed and sheltered by the de facto Taliban authorities, she said, adding that Islamic State-Khorasan Province remains active and could gain strength.
Concerns about such essential matters of international terrorism will not be allayed simply by Taliban promises, she warned, underlining that the region and the wider international community share clear common interests on that issue. Noting that UNAMA’s mandate is due for renewal in about a week and the Council is still evaluating the new situation, she said: “The best, and still possible, outcome would be for the Taliban to demonstrate that they seek to create an Afghanistan where people do not live in fear, where those with talents are invited to participate in rebuilding their country, and where boys and girls, young women and men, can receive the sort of education that will allow this development to continue.” The Afghan people will still need the support of the Council and the international community, she added.
WAZHMA FROGH, founder of the Women and Peace Studies Organisation, recalled that, about 20years ago, she was a young woman who believed in the Security Council, inspired by its adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Today, countless Afghan men, women and children are stranded in the valleys of Panjshir following weeks of shelling and bombing, she said, adding that they have no food for their children, no medicine for the ill and no way to communicate to the rest of Afghanistan and the world about their ordeal. This week, the world saw brave women and men take to the streets of Kabul and other cities to demonstrate their anguish over how they are being treated. The right to protest is now taken away and access to the Internet is limited based on location in Kabul, she noted. Just yesterday, a 25-year-old policy specialist in the now‑disbanded Ministry of Women’s Affairs had to burn her work and education certificates during raids, including a copy of resolution 1325 (2000) from a training course she attended in New York some years ago, she recalled. Today, her best chance for a life is to burn those documents and disappear.
She went on to point out that the world did not listen to women’s warnings about the absence of a political settlement and the sudden Taliban takeover, saying: “You side-lined us when we begged for a chance to sit at the tables of negotiations as peacebuilders; when we asked that you put protection of civilians and civic actors as condition for any negotiations.” She added that she, alongside some 100 other women peacebuilders in 34 provinces, has been working for local peace and conflict resolution programmes for more than a decade. While serving with the Afghanistan High Peace Council, she recalled, it was women members who reached out to communities and to the mothers of fighters on the ground and initiated the first National Dialogue that brought all Afghans together. “We worked for the ceasefire and a national peace process,” she said, adding that they also reached out to local Taliban leaders and advocated for consideration of the grievances of suffering young people and families. “In the end, we were betrayed by all, including the Afghan Government leadership.”
Now the Taliban have announced their caretaker emirate, she continued, noting that women’s lives “flipped around” since 15 August and they are being erased from governance. Women have been told they can’t go to work, and girls above the age of 12 years old may not be able to attend school. Female Government workers have been told to stay home, she said, adding that some 500 female judges and prosecutors had been working throughout the country, and 12,000 women in the police and military. Today, they are in hiding, fearful for their lives, she stated. Urging the Council to include women in mediation teams, she also urged it to facilitate a meeting of Afghan women from across the different professions — peacebuilders, judges, security officers, educators, doctors and businesswomen — with the Taliban, as well as visas for women and men from among civil society, media, former government employees, judges and prosecutors, artists and musicians stranded inside the country and at risk of reprisals.
She went on to stress the need for the United Nations to protect Afghan female aid workers and peacebuilders, as well as other civic professionals and community organizations, describing them as critical to the distribution and delivery of aid to those in need. The Council can also ask the Taliban to demonstrate their commitment to peace through their actions, she said, adding: “I pray that none of you experience losing your country overnight, like we did in Afghanistan.” She underlined that, as a civil society leader in exile, she is doing all she can to save lives so that she can face her daughters and sisters in the years to come, asking delegates whether they are doing all they can so they can face their own daughters.
MALALA YOUSAFZAI, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and civil society activist from Pakistan, said she does not intend to speak on behalf of others because “women and girls in Afghanistan are speaking for themselves”, but she does hope to remind the Council of what life is like for a girl living under extremism and terrorism. Describing her childhood experience of gunfire and explosions on the streets, she said the situation in the Swat Valley, in north-western Pakistan, changed rapidly for her family and community when the region began to fall under the Pakistani Taliban’s control. The group quickly became the dominant sociopolitical force throughout much of the north-west and life was marked by public floggings, schools that closed their doors to girls and banners in shopping malls declaring that women were not allowed inside. “I saw my home transformed from a place of peace to a place of fear in just three years,” she said, adding that thousands were displaced, and homes and schools were destroyed.
She went on to recount that, when she was 15 years old, a gunman stopped the bus in which she was riding, called out her name and fired a bullet at her, merely for having raised her voice in support of girls’ rights to attend school. She added that now, at 24, she carries scars from the six surgeries she needed to recover. “This is a story that many Afghan girls may share if we do not act,” she warned, sharing the stories of other girls and young women whose lives and livelihoods are now at stake. “Afghan women are demanding the right to choose their own futures,” she emphasized, noting that their recent protests in Kabul were met with tear gas, rifle butts and metal clubs. Whereas girls made up 39 per cent of school-going children in Afghanistan during 2020, that progress is now under threat, she stressed, pointing out that the doors to secondary schools have already been shut, and teachers and students have been told to wait at home.
Some female teachers have been told they no longer have jobs because they are barred from teaching boys, she continued. Emphasizing that international human rights law guarantees the right of girls to education, she said the issue is not solely one of individual liberties, but one of the good of society, as girls’ education is a powerful tool for building peace and security. “I urge the Security Council to recognize it as such,” she stated, adding that, when girls go to school, countries are able to recover from conflict more quickly. Equitable and inclusive education also helps to prevent conflict, she said, noting that experts in some countries believe that doubling the percentage of students finishing secondary school would cut the risk of conflict in half.
Against that backdrop, she called upon the Council to support Afghan women and girls in four ways. First, send a clear and unequivocal message to the Taliban that a precondition of any working relationship is upholding girls’ right to education. Second, support a robust monitoring mechanism to track and monitor human rights abuses in Afghanistan, with a specific focus on girls’ education. Third, significantly increase humanitarian and development aid to United Nations and other international organizations working to ensure that all schools can operate safely, including those in neighbouring countries hosting refugee children. And fourth, stand united as a Security Council in compelling the Taliban to “make real concessions”.
SIMON COVENEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence of Ireland and Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, recalling that the world watched in horror the recent violence and chaos in Afghanistan. Millions of people there — including those displaced by conflict, violence and intimidation — require urgent support, he said, adding: “Collectively, we can avert a humanitarian tragedy in Afghanistan.” Urging the Taliban to facilitate full, safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian organizations and all of their personnel, regardless of gender, he emphasized the need to keep Kabul airport and Afghanistan’s land borders fully open and operational. He went on to stress the international community’s responsibility to support relief efforts, pledging that Ireland will play its part, including at the high-level humanitarian meeting slated for 13 September.
Noting that Afghanistan is also facing a governance crisis, he recalled from Ireland’s own experience that the full, equal and meaningful participation of women is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and political stability. He urged the Council to accord clear priority on women’s involvement in processes that shape their future. “We owe this much to the women peacebuilders, who have given everything and are risking their lives for peace,” he said, underlining the right of women and girls to education, health care, freedom of movement and participation in public life. Noting that no evidence has yet emerged of a new approach by the Taliban, he said the new administration must adhere to its obligations under international law. Afghanistan must never again become a haven for international terrorism, and the Taliban must break ties with all international terrorist organizations or continue to face sanction and isolation, he warned, adding that the United Nations presence in that country is more crucial than ever.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), describing the increasingly precarious humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as “one of the worst in the world”, he said that, as the first aid flights and shipments arrive, Estonia continues to call for immediate, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies and other actors, including female aid workers. He added that, as the new semester begins, he is concerned about continuous access to safe education for girls, and for the ability of women to move freely and find employment. Condemning the recent use of violence against peaceful protestors and journalists, he noted that, for the latter, Afghanistan continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous places in which to work. He went on to express “great disappointment” with the “caretaker government”, pointing out that it is ignoring the diversity of the country’s people and excluding women. Sustainable peace can only be ensured through an inclusive political settlement and protection of the rights of all Afghans, he emphasized.
MONA JUUL (Norway) noted that Afghanistan’s interim government is “neither inclusive nor representative”, in contrast to previous indications from the Taliban, emphasizing it must have the full, equal and meaningful participation of women. It must ensure that Afghan territory will not to be used to threaten or attack any country or as a haven for terrorists, she said. Urging full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, she emphasized that Afghan and foreign nationals wishing to leave the country must be able to do so in a safe and orderly way. She went on to express concern that conflict has weakened community resilience, including the capacity to deal with climate-related security risks.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said that, while the world is clear-eyed in its view of the Taliban, having witnessed their previous period in power, it is also open-minded. “Our approach will be shaped by what the Taliban now do,” she added. Noting that resolution 2593 (2021) sets out the Council’s minimum expectations, she reiterated calls for the Taliban to distance themselves from terrorism and live up to the commitments made during the Doha talks. “It is in the shared interest of all countries that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for Al-Qaida, Islamic State and other terrorist groups, and does not undermine regional stability,” she emphasized, urging all countries to hold the Taliban to that commitment. Echoing concerns about the impact of recent events on the Afghan people, she said the United Kingdom will double its aid to £286 million in 2021. She urged the Taliban to create a safe environment in which to deliver humanitarian support, to refrain from interfering in the work of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, and to pursue inclusive politics.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India), recalling his delegation’s role in the adoption of resolution 2593 (2021), said the text takes into account collective concerns over terrorism and notes the Taliban’s commitment not to allow Afghan soil to be used for that purpose. It also takes note of the Taliban’s statement that Afghans will be able to travel abroad unhindered, he said, emphasizing that they must adhere to that pledge. However, the situation remains very fragile and is a source of concern for Afghanistan’s neighbours, he added. Reiterating the need for the voices of Afghan women to be heard, the aspirations of Afghan children to be realized and the rights of minorities to be protected, he called for urgent and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance and for an inclusive dispensation that represents all sections of society. “Afghanistan has already seen enough bloodshed and violence in recent years,” he stressed, calling upon the international community to rise above partisan interests and stand together in support of the Afghan people.
AOUGUI NIANDOU (Niger), also speaking on behalf of Kenya, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that ensuring humanitarian access should be the priority for Afghanistan, and called upon the Taliban to guarantee the safety, security and free movement of United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers. He also recognized the efforts of neighbouring countries in hosting Afghan refugees, while noting that the interim government lacks inclusivity. Urging the Council to demand that the Taliban embrace peace, cease links to terrorist groups and affiliates, and conduct inclusive dialogue, he emphasized that the participation of women, young people and ethnic minorities, as well as respect for human rights, are essential to post-conflict reconstruction. He went on to state that the Taliban’s march to power has implications beyond Afghanistan’s borders, and urged the Council to give due consideration to the concerns of neighbouring and regional stakeholders regarding the possibility of instability and export of terrorism.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said it is not worth panicking at this stage because the new caretaker government announced the end of hostilities, the restoration of order, a general amnesty for former Government officials and plans to eradicate narcotic drugs. The most important thing is to focus on the pressing issue of timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all those in urgent need, he added. Despite endless financial injections and a foreign military presence that lasted more than 20 years, poverty and hunger still prevail, he noted, expressing hope that access to all frozen Afghan assets will reopen. He went on to voice concern about the continued presence of terrorists, such as ISIS-Khorasan, in the country, and emphasized that the production and smuggling of drugs is inextricably linked to terrorism. Describing the “traditionally narrow” coverage of the subject in the Secretary‑General’s report as deplorable, he said the situation in Afghanistan is now discussed at almost every international platform, including by those far from the region trying to hastily impose their own formulas. He pointed out that many mistakes have been made, for which the Afghan people had to pay, and called for a patient and balanced approach. The Troika led by the Russian Federation has proved its relevance, he said.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) said the international community’s demands vis-à-vis the Taliban, as set out in resolution 2593 (2021), are extremely clear. The first is the safe and unhindered departure of Afghans and foreign nationals who wish to leave Afghanistan. Recalling the Taliban’s concrete commitments on that point and emphasizing the need to honour them, she said the next step is to guarantee humanitarian access throughout the country. France will participate in the ministerial-level meeting on that issue on 13 September, but assistance must reach all those who need it most, including women and girls, she stated, stressing that protection for humanitarian personnel must be guaranteed. Reiterating that the Taliban’s compliance with their international legal obligations remains an absolute requirement, she said France will not compromise on respect for human rights, in particular those of women and girls. She echoed other speakers in underlining that Afghanistan must never again become a sanctuary for terrorists, and demanding that the Taliban sever all links, including financial ones, with terrorist groups, Al-Qaida in particular.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE (Mexico) called for unfettered humanitarian access in light of the 550,000 new displacements of people recorded between January and August, noting that 1 in 3 Afghans experience food insecurity, and half of the children under the age of five face some degree of malnutrition. Citing cases of human right violations, including the repression of popular protests and the persecution of media workers, he reiterated the calls for an inclusive government, and the full, effective and meaningful participation of women in all decision‑making processes. Acknowledging the visit by Council members to the monument for the victims of the 11 September attacks this morning, he emphasized the importance of combating terrorism in their memory.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), strongly condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul, expressed hope that the situation will soon stabilize for the benefit of Afghanistan and all its neighbours. There is urgent need for order, safety and security for all those on the ground, he said, also emphasizing the importance of respecting international humanitarian law. He called for ensuring the rights of all people, allowing safe humanitarian access and permitting safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who wish to leave the country. Stressing the need to respect the rights of women and to ensure their participation in public life, he expressed hope that the United Nations, as well as other regional and international actors, will redouble their efforts to support Afghanistan’s reconstruction and address its urgent humanitarian needs. He went on to say UNAMA’s mandate must be carefully considered in the coming weeks, given the evolving situation on the ground.
JEFFREY DE LAURENTIS (United States) said a new chapter of international engagement with Afghanistan has begun. The United States, as the single largest donor to the country, is helping its implementing partners provide food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services and more to all those in need. He emphasized that the United Nations must work to prevent human rights violations and pursue accountability for those that have already occurred. Concerned about the safety and security of UNAMA personnel, especially female staff, he expressed outrage at reports that Taliban members have engaged in reprisals against them. It is also outrageous that some women — including female staff working for the United Nations and implementing partners of the United States — are prohibited from going to work without male chaperones. Among other things, he went on to urge support for efforts by the World Food Programme (WFP) to establish a vital humanitarian air bridge to address the crucial need for food aid. The Taliban must fully respect their obligations under international law, he stressed, saying the United States will work with them should they uphold their commitments and demonstrate real inclusion. However, it will not do so on the basis of faith or trust alone, he said, underlining: “Any legitimacy or support will have to be earned.” The world is watching closely, he added.
GENG SHUANG (China) expressed hope that Afghanistan’s interim government will learn lessons from history, unite all ethnic groups and factions, build an inclusive political architecture, pursue moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, protect the rights of women and children, and relentlessly combat terrorism. Emphasizing the need to prevent the country from becoming a new hub for terrorists, he called upon the international community to step up assistance. He described the freezing of Afghanistan’s overseas assets as one of the major reasons for the current economic difficulties, pointing out that the assets belong to Afghanistan and should not be leveraged as threats or restraints. Acknowledging the efforts by neighbouring countries to promote peace in Afghanistan and the wider region, he said China will donate 3 million doses of vaccines to the country, in addition to 200 million RMB worth of food and medical supplies.
GHULAM M. ISACZAI (Afghanistan), noting that the situation in his country continues to deteriorate, said the world is learning more about the true and unchanged nature of the Taliban every day. Since the Council’s 30 August meeting on Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to commit human rights violations and possible war crimes, which have exacerbated the humanitarian situation, he added, citing eyewitness accounts of their widespread atrocities, perpetrated with the support of foreign terrorist fighters, as well as foreign intelligence and military assets. They have performed targeted executions, cut off communication lines and imposed a humanitarian blockade, impeding food supplies, he said. Calling for an urgent fact-finding mission to assess violations of human rights in Panjshir, Spin Boldak, Malistan and other provinces, he also urged the international community to condemn the suppression of peaceful protests and to stand with the Afghan women defending their rights.
The Taliban’s newly formed cabinet fails on all metrics of inclusivity and has been rejected by the absolute majority of Afghanistan’s people, including political and civil society groups, he continued. Recalling that the Council has on multiple occasions committed not to recognize an exclusionary government, he asked it to withhold recognition of the Taliban’s so-called administration until they form a truly inclusive one. It should also draw a fundamental red line regarding the treatment of women and girls, and respect for the rights of all Afghans. The Council should also re-evaluate its approach to granting travel-ban exemptions to Taliban leaders on the United Nations Sanctions List after they failed to resolve the conflict through peaceful means, he added.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, he warned that “a perfect storm is brewing”, noting that the devastating impact of Afghanistan’s second major drought in four years is taking hold. Also, a cold and dangerous winter is approaching, the pandemic continues to spread, the economy is in a state of collapse, and there is no government that can provide even the most basic services to people. “The Afghan people need your help to survive,” he emphasized, thanking the Secretary‑General for convening the 13 September high-level humanitarian conference on Afghanistan. He asked the Council to consider a comprehensive and strong UNAMA mandate and empower it to address the humanitarian crisis while monitoring and reporting on human rights on the ground.
He went on to stress that, on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the horrendous terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the world cannot turn its back on Afghanistan and accept the new status quo as normal. There is still an opportunity to build on the successes of the past 20 years and to work with all parties to establish a political system that is representative of Afghanistan’s diversity, conforms with Islamic values, as well as international norms and commitments, and prevents Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists, he said. To achieve that, the Council’s unity and decisive action are paramount.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said his country already stepped up its aid efforts through the Turkish Red Crescent, but global efforts are urgently needed. Such endeavours should also target neighbouring countries that are already hosting many Afghan refugees and struggling with the socioeconomic impact, he added. Noting that Turkey and Afghanistan have deep-rooted historical, cultural and ethnic ties, he said that, for many years, his country has assumed a significant role in supporting Afghanistan on every front, including security and development. Through regional initiatives and platforms such as the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, or trilateral cooperation mechanisms, Turkey has striven to find comprehensive and pragmatic solutions to regional issues, he emphasized. “Our commitment to Afghanistan and Afghan people is open-ended,” he said, declaring: “We will never abandon them.” The Council should ensure the continued presence of the United Nations in Afghanistan in all fields, and enable UNAMA to conduct its activities without hindrance, he urged.
MAGZHAN ILYASSOV (Kazakhstan) said Afghanistan’s peace and security have always been a priority for his country and others in Central Asia. He noted that the President of Kazakhstan decided to fulfil the request of the United Nations to temporarily relocate the staff of UNAMA and other entities to the city of Almaty. That will streamline the work of the United Nations in the region, primarily for Afghanistan in these challenging times and showcase the mature and robust partnership between the world body and Kazakhstan, he said. Pointing out that Almaty already hosts 18 United Nations agencies, he said its cooperation with UNAMA could turn the hub into an effective regional centre for the Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to the stability of Afghanistan and the region. He went on to say that, with support from the European Commission, the second phase of the project to advance the economic empowerment of Afghan women started in January, with a budget of €4 million.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that, behind Afghanistan, which has endured four decades of war that killed more than 1 million Afghans and devastated its already‑fragile society and economy, his own country has suffered most from the conflict, with more than 80,000 Pakistanis killed and thousands more injured in terrorist attacks. Pakistan’s economy has suffered dramatically and it hosts more than 3 million Afghan refugees, he added. Noting that widespread bloodshed was averted in recent weeks, he said his country has helped to evacuate more than 12,000 Afghans and warned against generating fear that will lead thousands more to flee. The international community must remain engaged, as economic collapse will only perpetuate the cycle of instability and conflict, benefiting no one except those seeking to exploit it for their own narrow aims, he said. As for the humanitarian situation, he warned against allowing conditions to deteriorate any further. For its part, Pakistan has established a humanitarian aid bridge and dispatched three plane loads of aid — the first of which has already arrived in Afghanistan — and is open to establishing a similar land bridge. Calling on the Taliban to allow safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance, he emphasized that it must all be delivered in strict conformity with the principles of neutrality and with full respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty. He read excerpts of a joint statement issued on 8 September by several of Afghanistan’s neighbours, which, among other things, calls on the Taliban to embrace “moderate and sound” policies. He went on to stress that terrorist groups should not be allowed to gain a foothold on Afghan soil and announced the establishment of a standing mechanism of neighbouring States, aimed at providing support to Kabul going forward.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said the current situation in Afghanistan is primarily the direct result of the intervention by the United States and other foreign forces and their irresponsible withdrawal. “When they entered Afghanistan, they brought catastrophe for Afghans, and when they withdrew, they left calamity for Afghans,” he added. Between 2001 and 2021, nearly 165,000 Afghans have been killed, and the number of direct child casualties is estimated around 33,000. War crimes committed by foreign forces must not go unpunished, he emphasized. Given the very basic needs of millions of Afghans, Iran stands ready to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian aid to their country through its seaports, airports, railways, roads and border crossings, he said. For more than four decades, Iran has hosted millions of Afghan refugees, and many more have entered its territory in the wake of recent events, he added, recalling that the first ministerial meeting of neighbours was held virtually yesterday, and the next round will be held in Tehran. He went on to state that Iran organized high-level a meeting between the Afghan Government and the Taliban last July and is ready to host the next round of talks.