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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

UN Security Council demands Taliban ‘swiftly reverse’ women bans

The UN Security Council on Thursday passed a resolution unanimously urging the Taliban to lift all restrictions on female citizens including women working for the world body in Afghanistan. The resolution was passed without any discussion during a meeting to update members on developments in the Middle East.
Russian Federation diplomat Vasily Nebenzya opened Thursday’s meeting with the announcement that the resolution was passed but did not further discuss it before quickly moving on to an update regarding humanitarian and political efforts in Syria.

The resolution called on Taliban leaders to “swiftly restore (women’s and girl’s) access to education, employment, freedom of movement and equal participation in public life,” according to a report from The Associated Press, which stated it received a copy of the resolution Wednesday.

“UN national personnel — women and men — have been instructed not to report to UN offices, with only limited and calibrated exceptions made for critical tasks,” according to documents on the UN website.

The draft obtained by AP reportedly urged all other UN member nations to work toward “an urgent reversal” of the Taliban’s policies and practices toward women and girls.

The restrictions by the Taliban forced the UN “into having to make an appalling choice between staying and delivering in support of the Afghan people, and standing by the norms and principles we are duty-bound to uphold,” according to the body’s website.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan stated on its website on April 11: “The ban is unlawful under international law, including the UN Charter, and for that reason the United Nations cannot comply.”

The resolution was drafted by the UAE and Japan, and backed by 90 co-sponsors from the Muslim world and beyond, according to the UN website. It was scheduled to be voted on during Thursday’s Security Council meeting but video live-streamed by the UN at the time did not appear to show any such vote taking place.

The 3,300 Afghans who work for the UN have been instructed to remain home since April 5, according to the AP report. Of those, 2,700 are men and 600 are women. All are still being paid by the UN, a UN spokesperson told AP.

The UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Roza Otunbayeva, has opened an “operational review period” regarding the Taliban’s actions, according to the UN. The review will remain open until May 5.

“During this period, the UN in Afghanistan will conduct the necessary consultations, make required operational adjustments and accelerate contingency planning for all possible outcomes,” according to a statement posted to the UN’s website.

The UN will “maintain principled and constructive engagement with all possible levels of the Taliban de facto authorities.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will host a closed international meeting on May 1 and 2 in Qatar on Afghanistan, according to the UN statement. The meeting will aim to seek a “durable way forward” for the country and will be attended by various envoys from multiple countries, according to the AP report.

The Taliban held significant power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, and again returned to power in 2021 following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces stationed there. The return of the Taliban has brought with it severe restrictions on women and girls in the country.

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