Afghanistan’s seat has remained vacant in the United Nations General Assembly for the past three years. Following the collapse of the previous government, the country faces a humanitarian crisis and a lack of political legitimacy. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan is regarded as an unreliable member of the international community, and despite some regional powers and countries engaging with the Taliban, they are concerned about the strengthening of terrorism and radicalization. Serious concerns about human rights abuses, drug trafficking, threats from terrorist groups, and the ban on girls’ and women’s education in Afghanistan have been raised at the UN General Assembly. However, the General Assembly also had its share of sidelines. On one of its sidelines, a “Gender Apartheid” session against women hosted by the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, with the support of Permanent Missions from South Africa, Malta, and the Dominican Republic, was held. Nevertheless, the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations stated that the Taliban have taken the people hostage, and the regime’s policy is nothing but “gender apartheid.”
Following the fall of the previous government to the Taliban, Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations withdrew from speaking at the 78th UN General Assembly. Since then, Afghanistan’s seat in the General Assembly remains vacant. Naseer Ahmad Faiq has taken over as the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Mr. Faiq has also refrained from addressing the General Assembly in the past two years.
Under the Taliban control, Afghanistan faces not only a humanitarian crisis but also a lack of domestic and international legitimacy. In the past two years and more, no country has recognized the regime of this group officially as the government of Afghanistan. During this period, nations have emphasized the need for an all-inclusive government, the protection of human rights, especially women’s rights, and a sincere fight against terrorist groups. They have stated that they will not recognize the Taliban until they take concrete steps toward establishing an all-inclusive government and respecting women’s rights.
Leaders and senior representatives of some governments, in their speeches at the United Nations General Assembly and its sideline sessions, have expressed concerns about the strengthening of terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that Afghanistan should not be a safe haven for terrorist groups. Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, has also expressed concerns about the threat of terrorism emanating from Afghan soil and has urged the Taliban not to collaborate with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Central Asian countries have attributed the strengthening of terrorist groups, instability, and drug trafficking in Afghanistan to the expansion of insecurity in the region. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan, expressed concern about the situation in Afghanistan and emphasized the need for the country to become stable and reliable.
In addition, Emomali Rahmon, the President of Tajikistan, stated that drug trafficking from Afghanistan has expanded. He added that his country has seized over 10 tons of drugs at the border with Afghanistan in the past two years, indicating a significant increase compared to previous years. Sadyr Japarov, the President of Kyrgyzstan, has described the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as unpreventable.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, also emphasized at the United Nations General Assembly his concern about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and stated that the world supports the formation of an all-inclusive government in the country. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, urged the Taliban not to repeat their past mistakes and to adhere to the Doha Agreement.
These concerns are being raised at the United Nations General Assembly amidst recent developments, with the Iranian government announcing that it thwarted 30 simultaneous explosions in Tehran and detained 28 members of the ISIS group. Iranian media reports indicate that some of these ISIS members had the experience of activity in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, told the Hasht-e Subh Daily that the country’s Permanent Mission has been present in all sideline sessions of the United Nations. Mr. Faiq adds that he also addressed the “Group of Seven Plus (g7+)” and that all sideline sessions were initiated and supported by Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission concerning human rights and the current situation in the country.
The chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations underscores that in these sideline sessions, officials from various countries have reiterated their statements, positions, and concerns of their respective governments. According to him, the primary concerns of these countries include security challenges, the threat of terrorist groups, violations of human rights, particularly women’s rights, and the absence of an all-inclusive government in Afghanistan. All of these countries were calling for these issues to be addressed.
However, some political activists argue that Afghanistan under Taliban control has become an unreliable member of the international community, and all countries are concerned about the strengthening of terrorism, drug trafficking, and the growth of extremism in Afghanistan. According to them, the Taliban have once again isolated the country internationally. In their view, the indifference of donor countries to the hunger crisis and warnings from the World Food Programme (WFP) are examples of the world’s reluctance and distrust of the Taliban and Afghanistan.
On the other hand, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, one of the demands of Afghan women, who have been protesting and seeking recognition for days, has been formally discussed. A session to examine and recognize “Gender Apartheid,” hosted by Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission, The SPIA Afghanistan Policy Lab at Princeton University, with the support of the Permanent Missions of Malta, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic, and in cooperation with the Georgetown IInstitute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS), was held.
Yalda Royan, a women’s rights activist and one of the participants in this session, states that the central theme of this meeting was “Gender Apartheid and its impact on the status of women and girls in Afghanistan.” She says that the Taliban have systematically excluded women and girls from society due to their gender by imposing extensive restrictions. Ms. Royan adds that Hazara women and girls, in addition to their gender, accept an “additional layer of Taliban crimes” due to their ethnic and religious affiliations.
However, some political activists have praised this move. Arif Rahmani, a former member of the Afghan parliament, described this session as a timely and hopeful initiative. He shared a report from this session on his X (former Twitter) social media page, stating, “A good and timely initiative by the United Nations.”
It should be noted that the discussion on the recognition of “Gender Apartheid” against women has reached the corridors of decision-making at the United Nations at a time when dozens of women are currently held in Taliban prisons. The group has recently detained Neda Parwani, a protesting woman, along with her four-year-old child and husband in Kabul, and their fate has been unknown for over two weeks.
The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which began on September 19, continues until September 26. Leaders and heads of state discuss climate change, sustainable development goals, and other global commonalities to determine the agenda for next year’s UN General Assembly.