United Nations extends Afghan mission mandate for six months

Taliban fighters patrol a market in Kabul's Old City on September 14, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP

The UN Security Council voted on Friday 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 on Friday said 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 to be brutal in their strict enforcement of Islamic law.

‘Leverage over Taliban’

“The Taliban need the UN and this is our leverage” to have an influence on their decision making, the specialist said.

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.

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.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 2:32:19 AM |

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