General Assembly: 33rd Plenary Meeting, 77th Session

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10-Nov-2022 03:03:10
General Assembly voices deep concern over volatility in Afghanistan since Taliban takeover, unflinching commitment to Afghans, adopting resolution by vote.

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The General Assembly today expressed deep concern over the volatility in Afghanistan since the takeover of the Taliban in 2021, and the persistent violence and presence of terrorist groups as well as abuse of human rights, including those of women, girls and minorities.

By a recorded vote of 116 in favour to none against, with 10 abstentions (Belarus, Burundi, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), the Assembly adopted a text titled “The situation in Afghanistan” (document A/77/L.11), reiterating its unwavering commitment to international humanitarian law and the human rights of all Afghans. Deeply concerned about the dire economic and humanitarian situation, it called on the Taliban to ensure the security of humanitarian workers there.

Also by the wide-ranging resolution, the Assembly expressed deep concern about the growing repression of fundamental freedoms and strongly emphasized the need to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. It reiterated its serious concern about the continuing violence and the presence of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) also known as Da’esh. It noted with grave concern that millions of people face emergency levels of food insecurity and acknowledged that women and children are disproportionally affected by the humanitarian crisis.

General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary) expressed alarm that the United Nations humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan is only half funded. With winter just weeks away, Member States must reduce the $2.3 billion shortfall. It is deeply concerning that narcotics now make up the country's largest economic sector. “We know where these drugs are sent and we know who profits from these drugs,” he said, also calling on the Taliban to engage in serious counter-terrorism dialogue and stop the flow of foreign extremists into the country.

Afghanistan’s delegate said that Taliban’s failure to establish a legitimate and inclusive government as well as its unwillingness to address the country’s many crises has isolated the country from the international community. After the takeover by the Taliban in August 2021, Afghanistan has witnessed an increasing number of socioeconomic and humanitarian crises, which has led to the collapse of two decades of hard-won gains.

More than 24 million people need humanitarian assistance, he stressed, warning also that terrorist attacks on civilian targets and minority groups have increased and women and girls are being systematically erased from all areas of public life. He commended the draft resolution for its balanced representation of the situation in a manner which underscores the most pressing issues while urging the international community to provide assistance, including humanitarian aid.

The representative of Germany, introducing the text, said that the Taliban controls the country, but does not live up to its responsibility to the Afghan people. There is an absence of any effort towards inclusive governance and a long-term political solution to govern the country. “We expect a harsh winter and levels of need that we have not seen in the last decades,” she warned.

Several delegates expressed alarm at the fact that no other country except Afghanistan bans girls from going to school. Also, women locked out of the workforce is just as jarring a policy and one that will severely stunt the country’s development. The representative of the United States said if the Taliban hopes to be seen as legitimate and if Afghanistan is to resume its rightful place in the international community, it must allow women and girls to return their place in society.

There were also several delegations who flagged the resolution as biased and unbalanced. Iran’s representative expressed disappointment that the text failed to refer to the role of foreign military intervention as well as the irresponsible withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. Afghanistan should serve as a reminder that military intervention in other countries under the pretext of combating terrorism only harms those States and their people, he said.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that instead of an honest and objective process which considers all positions, his Western colleagues engaged in “backroom games and manipulation” to remove from the text any references to the investigations into the Western coalition’s military crimes in Afghanistan.

Other delegates, particularly from the region, underscored the spillover effects of the illicit opium cultivation and drug production and trafficking, while others stressed the importance of keeping channels of communication with the Taliban open to bring forth concrete results. Some speakers emphasized the imperative of addressing the issue of Afghanistan’s frozen assets. Humanitarian aid was critical but only a band-aid solution to a much deeper problem, they said.

Pakistan’s representative, for example, called for the release of Afghanistan’s reserves, currently being held abroad, and urged the bolstering of regional economic partnerships. Regardless of ideological considerations, he said, the world must welcome the fact that one authority controls all of Afghanistan, and that there is “no credible challenge” to it.

The delegate from the United Kingdom stressed the need for the Taliban to ensure transparency on revenue and budget and re-establish a credible and independent central bank. “We must continue to support economic stabilization while standing firm on holding the Taliban to its commitment, including on counter-terrorism and protecting human rights,” he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council), Finland (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), Qatar, India, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Mexico, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Poland, Chile, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Kuwait, Japan, Ireland, Slovenia and China. The representative of the European Union spoke in its capacity as observer. An observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta also spoke.

The Russian Federation took the floor on a point of order. The representative of Pakistan spoke in explanation of vote.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 14 November, to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

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