UN extends Afghan mission mandate
September 18 2021 12:04 AM
UN-flag-United-Nation -AFP
UN-flag-United-Nation -AFP

AFP/Reuters/ United Nations

The UN Security Council voted yesterday to extend the UN mission in Afghanistan for six months and called on the Taliban to create an inclusive government.
The 15-member council acted in a resolution passed unanimously on the UNAMA political mission, which deals with development issues, among others, not peacekeeping.
The document stressed “the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government”, although Afghanistan’s new Islamist rulers have formed a government made up only of Taliban members and no women.
The resolution also calls for “full, equal and meaningful participation of women, and upholding human rights, including for women, children and minorities”.
It was drafted by Estonia and Norway, which welcomed the unanimous passage.
In August a council resolution calling for freedom of movement for Afghans wishing to leave the country after the Taliban takeover won 13 votes, as Russia and China abstained.
The text approved yesterday says that the UN will continue to play an “important role” in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Diplomats said the Taliban did not object to the UN mandate being renewed.
“They are obliged to be more flexible,” an Afghanistan specialist at the UN said.
“They are more pragmatic” than they were in the first stint in power in 1990s, the person said.
The Taliban then were known for their strict enforcement of Islamic law.
Taliban officials say they do not intend to repeat the harsh fundamentalist rule of 1996-2001, but have struggled to convince the outside world that they have really changed.
Under previous Taliban rule, women could not work, girls were banned from school and women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative when they left home.
“The Taliban need the UN and this is our leverage” to have an influence on their decision making, the specialist told AFP.
The council asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to brief it every other month on the situation in Afghanistan until the mandate is due again to expire in March 2022.
It also wants a written report on the future of the mission by January 31.
In recent weeks several NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have pressed for the UN and its 2,000 staffers in Afghanistan to stay in place to report on human rights abuses.
“There’s little evidence to suggest the Taliban will comply with international human rights law, especially the rights of women and girls,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, welcoming the mission extension. “UNAMA will need to regularly and publicly report on abuses, while helping meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.”
Meanwhile, the UN ambassador representing Afghanistan’s ousted government this week asked to remain in the country’s UN seat in New York, a UN spokesperson said yesterday, setting up a showdown if the Taliban appoints their own envoy.
Ghulam Isaczai sent UN chief Guterres the names of Afghanistan’s delegation for the new General Assembly session, Guterres’s spokesperson Farhan Haq said.
It was not immediately clear if the Taliban would put forward their own UN envoy.
Isaczai sent his accreditation request on Wednesday, Haq said, a day after the new General Assembly session started.
Dozens of world leaders will be in New York next week for the annual UN gathering and Isaczai is scheduled to address the final day of the meeting on September 27.
UN credentials are dealt with by a nine-member committee appointed annually.
The committee, named on Tuesday, is made up of the Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, China, Namibia, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sweden, and the United States.
The committee traditionally meets in October or November to assess the credentials of all UN members before submitting a report for General Assembly approval before the end of the year.
The committee and General Assembly usually operate by consensus on credentials, diplomats said.
Until a decision is made, Isaczai will remain in the seat, according to the General Assembly rules.
When the Taliban last ruled the ambassador of the Afghan government they toppled remained the UN envoy after the credentials committee deferred its decision on rival claims to the seat.

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