Afghanistan: The New Era
By: Khaled A. BaRahma
A new Kabul interim government contains neither women nor minority leaders, but a number of persons on the UN lists of sanctioned individuals, speakers said today as they called on the now ruling Taliban to carry out their promises and create a more representative government.
According to Deborah Lyons, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), "the fate of millions of Afghans will rest with the Taliban government". In fact, many of the 33 names presented are the same names listed between 1996 and 2001 as members of the Taliban leadership, she said, adding that the prime minister, both deputy prime ministers, and the foreign minister face UN sanctions.
In spite of the Council's obligations to sanction those individuals, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan cannot wait for such political decisions, she added, adding that it is urgent to implement on a massive scale the required assistance in health, food security, and sanitation. An alternative crisis to avoid is economic collapse, she said, stressing the importance of resolving the issue of overseas Afghan assets that have been frozen, while ensuring that those assets are not misused. “The Afghan people will still need the support of the Council and the international community” Deborah Lyons said.
Founder of Women and Peace Studies Organization, Wazhma Frogh, said that a 25-year-old policy specialist working for the now-disbanded Ministry of Women's Affairs had to destroy her work and education certificates as part of ongoing raids. Also included is a copy of the Council's resolution 1325 (2000), which deals with women, peace, and security. If she wants a life under Taliban rule, she should burn those documents and disappear.
As part of the First National Dialogue that brought all Afghans together, she and 100 other women peacebuilders in Afghanistan were responsible for initiating it. according to her, they also sought a national peace process and peace ceasefire, cultivated relationships with local Taliban leaders, and advocated for addressing the grievances of victims and their families. “We worked for the ceasefire and a national peace process,” Wazhma Frogh said.
A Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Pakistani civil society activist, Malala Yousafzai, briefed the Council about life under Pakistani Taliban control in her hometown. “It took only three years for my home to transform from a place of peace to a place of fear” she said. As she called on the Council to support Afghan women and girls in four ways if it fails to act, warning that this is a story that many Afghan girls may share if action is not taken.
Afghanistan’s Representative Statement:
According to a representative for Afghanistan, he commented that the world is learning more about the Taliban's true nature and character with every passing day, noting that the group has continued to commit human rights violations and possibly war crimes since the Council met in Afghanistan on 30 August. "A perfect storm is brewing" with the Taliban's newly formed cabinet failing on all measures of inclusivity and being rejected by the majority of the Afghan people, he pointed out. As Afghanistan suffers its second major drought in four years, a cold, dangerous winter is ahead, the cholera pandemic continues to spread, and the government is falling apart, he says, "The Afghan people need your help to survive."
Ireland’s Representative Statement:
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense, Simon Coveney, addressed Council members in his capacity as Council President for September, recalling the experience of Ireland that full, equal, and meaningful participation of women is a precondition for long-term political and economic stability. "We owe this much to the women peacebuilders, to whom have sacrificed so much and risk their lives for peace," he emphasized. Since the Taliban have not yet demonstrated a new strategy, he said, the new government must uphold its international law obligations. The Taliban were also warned to sever ties with all international terrorist groups to avoid sanctions and isolation.
US Representative Statement:
According to the US representative, a new chapter in the international engagement with Afghanistan has begun as Washington, D.C., assists its implementing partners with providing food, shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, among other basic commodities, to all those in need. The United States will work with the Taliban if they uphold their commitments and demonstrate real inclusion, he said further, stressing that they must fully respect their obligations under international law.
Russia’s Representative Statement:
Russian officials emphasized that there was no need for panic since the caretaker government announced an end to hostilities, the amnesty of former government officials, and the abolition of narcotics. Humanitarian assistance must be provided to those in urgent need as soon as possible, warning against hasty enactment of formulas by countries far from the region.
Iran’s Representative Statement:
According to Iran's delegate, the current situation in Afghanistan is mainly a result of the involvement of other foreign powers and their irresponsible withdrawal from Afghanistan. "They brought calamity to Afghanis upon entering the country, and when they left, they left calamities behind," he said. It is estimated that 165,000 Afghans have died between 2001 and 2021, and 33,000 have been killed directly as a result, he stated, emphasizing that foreign forces must be punished for war crimes they perpetrated.
Pakistan’s Representative Statement:
In the nearby country, Pakistan has suffered more than 80,000 deaths and thousands of injuries. This is the worst level of loss for the country behind Afghanistan. More than 3 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan, a country whose economy has suffered dramatically. A portion of this statement reads excerpts from a joint statement by neighboring states that called for "moderate and sound" policies from the Taliban.
Statement of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA):
UNAMA head Deborah Lyons says, with the fall of Kabul on 15 August, Afghanistan's people were confronted with an unimaginable situation. Her words reflected disappointment over the de facto administration announced by the Taliban, which will impact millions of Afghans. Among the named individuals are no women, no non-Taliban members, no figures of the former government, nor notable minority leaders, it should be noted that many of these individuals were part of the Taliban leadership in 1996-2001. The foreign minister, the two deputy foreign ministers and the prime minister are among the 33 names to be presented. Council members must decide how to proceed with the Sanctions List.
[Personal Perspective] Potential settlement with Taliban:
I. In order to start a working relationship with the Taliban, it is essential to express clearly and unequivocally that education is a necessity.
II. We should support an effective monitoring mechanism to track and monitor abuses of human rights in Afghanistan, with a particular focus on education for girls.
III. Increase humanitarian and development aid to NGOs, including those in neighboring countries hosting refugee children, working to ensure schools can operate safely.
IV. The Security Council must unite in order to force the Taliban to make real concessions. Various members of the Council, including those from Afghanistan and neighboring countries, noted that the Taliban will be judged by their actions, not by their words.