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UN Security Council Convenes Meeting on Afghanistan: Report

The UN Security Council convened a meeting on Afghanistan on Tuesday, during which the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan presented her report, focusing on the country’s overall situation with particular emphasis on the status of women and girls.

The report began with a focus on women and girls in Afghanistan; as the report said, when former Secretary-General Kofi Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2001, he began his address with a powerful statement: “Today in Afghanistan, a girl will be born.” But the question now lingers: Who is that girl today? Is she a university student forced into exile for an education, a qualified professional now confined to her home, or a young girl struggling to find water for her family in a country ravaged by drought? These questions highlight Afghanistan’s complex and multifaceted challenges, with no easy answers in sight.

On the other hand, the report also highlighted another pressing issue: the devastating impact of three years of drought in a country where nearly 80% of the population relies on agriculture. Climate change and water scarcity are wreaking havoc on people’s lives, leading to what’s referred to as “upside-down migration,” where families move from areas with everything but water to places where water is the primary concern.

Regarding human rights, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has documented numerous violations by de facto authorities, including those contravening international law and the Taliban leader’s instructions, such as prohibiting torture and ill-treatment. These violations undermine the de facto authorities’ claims of domestic legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the report emphasized the country’s inclusive and responsive system of government to respect human rights. In addition, visits by Islamic scholars from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have stressed the importance of girls’ education, women’s rights, and inclusive governance in Islamic governance.

At the subnational level, consultations between the de facto authorities and local communities are ongoing, although their effectiveness remains to be seen. Concerns have arisen over the absence of Shia members in newly created Provincial Ulema Councils for predominantly Shia provinces.

A Moscow-format meeting in Russia is set to focus on inclusive government, with the de facto authorities aiming to demonstrate inclusivity despite growing legitimacy concerns. However, uncertainty regarding rights, accountability, representation, and justice poses significant obstacles to internal and international legitimacy.

Despite the challenges, there is positive news regarding reducing poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, potentially benefitting Afghan farmers and addressing drug addiction issues. Humanitarian funding remains a concern, with a significant gap threatening the well-being of millions facing food insecurity, especially as winter approaches.

UNAMA’s engagement strategy seeks to moderate the policies of the de facto authorities and align Afghanistan with international norms. While policies excluding women are unacceptable to the international community, UNAMA believes that dialogue and engagement remain crucial to changing these policies without implying recognition or acceptance.

This engagement aims to promote governance practices that reflect international norms while addressing the de facto authorities’ concerns. A reframed engagement strategy may require more structured and purposeful coordination among the international community and the inclusion of an intra-Afghan dialogue.

Despite the lack of trust on all sides, the doors to dialogue remain open. Afghanistan has endured decades of conflict, but this moment offers an opportunity for positive change. The girls born in Afghanistan today should have the chance to contribute to a peaceful, connected Afghanistan, free from poverty, discrimination, and hopelessness. The international community must continue engaging to ensure this vision becomes a reality.