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UN fresh out of ideas on Afghanistan's Taliban

March 17, 2023

In a rare show of unity, the UN Security Council asked for an "independent assessment" on dealing with the Afghan Taliban, saying it needed some "fresh thinking."

Afghan Taliban militants in Kabul in December 2022
The UN Security Council will look for outside suggestions of how to deal with Taliban leaders in AfghanistanImage: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP/picture alliance

The United Nations Security Council admitted it does not know how to deal with Afghanistan's Taliban government.

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday calling for independent recommendations on how to combat challenges in the country, including the Taliban's crackdown on women and girls' rights.

"The Council is taking a careful and measured response to a difficult crisis with outside expertise and fresh thinking and essentially saying that a business as usual approach is not sufficient to Afghanistan," United Arab Emirates UN Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said.

The UAE and Japan co-sponsored the resolution, asking UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish an independent panel to assess the situation.

"Afghanistan has been on an extremely alarming trajectory since August 2021," Nusseibeh said.

"Our hope is that the assessment will offer credible suggestions as to how the various relevant international and regional actors can coalesce around a shared vision for the country and how we can advance that vision in the Security Council."

The problem with the Taliban

When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021, many expected the fundamentalist group to rule differently this time around.

The Taliban made some promising statements that hinted at change, but they gradually reimposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Girls are now barred from school beyond the sixth grade, women are banned from most jobs as well as public spaces such as parks and gyms. 

Women are also not allowed to leave the home without a male relative and must cover their faces.

Universities have reopened in Afghanistan — but only for men

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The resolution also lists a host of other challenges facing Afghanistan, including the dire humanitarian situation, the problems of religious and ethnic minorities, security and terrorism, narcotics production, social, economic, and development needs, promoting dialogue and improving governance and the rule of law.

The 15-member UN Security Council, which has recently divided on other issues, including Ukraine, unanimously instructed Guterres to submit a report to it in mid-November with "forward-looking recommendations for an integrated and coherent approach among relevant political, humanitarian, humanitarian, and development actors, within and outside of the United Nations."

In a separate resolution, it also renewed the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year.

lo/sms (AFP, AFP, Reuters)