Members of the United Nations Security Council, in a meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, expressed concern over human rights violations, particularly the rights of Afghan women. In this meeting, most countries called for increased pressure on the Taliban to lift restrictions against women. The executive director of UN Women also asked representatives of countries to support efforts to explicitly codify “gender apartheid” in international law. She said that systematic and planned attacks against women form the Taliban’s attitude towards this social group and to respond to it, “gender apartheid” must be defined in international norms. The chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations also referred to widespread human rights violations by the Taliban, saying that women and girls in Afghanistan are enduring gender apartheid and a special session of the UN General Assembly should be convened to address this issue. He added that the Taliban have continued to severely violate human rights, brutal punishments, suppress media and civil activists. In addition, 11 countries have issued a statement describing the Taliban’s behavior towards women as “gender harassment”.
Human rights violations and widespread restrictions against women have been the main focus of international discussions about Afghanistan for the past two years. The United Nations Security Council held a special meeting yesterday on the human rights situation in Afghanistan. In addition to permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council, two UN officials also spoke at this meeting.
At the beginning of this meeting, Roza Otunbayeva, the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), presented a three-month report on the country’s situation, saying that the Taliban have continued to violate human rights, especially women’s rights and their restrictions have affected all women including herself. According to Otunbayeva, policies that lead to women’s deprivation are not acceptable to the international community. However, the head of UNAMA called for the creation of a “re-engagement strategy” with the Taliban and said that dialogue with this group should not be closed.
Sima Bahous, the Executive Director of UN Women, while emphasizing the use of all tools to put pressure on the Taliban, called for the definition of “gender apartheid” in international law. She asked countries in her speech to support the explicit codification of “gender apartheid” in international law. According to her, the Taliban’s systematic and planned attacks against women are rooted in this group’s attitude and to hold the Taliban accountable, “gender apartheid” must be defined in international norms.
The Executive Director of UN Women said that the Taliban’s restrictions have affected women’s family relationships and 22 percent of women have rarely met their family members outside the home during this period. She emphasized that women in Afghanistan should not be ignored. According to Bahous, women’s voices are sometimes unheard and this neglect also has negative impacts on the future of Afghanistan.
Sima Bahous stated that the Taliban’s policies against women have cost Afghanistan about one billion dollars and with the continuation of restrictions, this cost will increase. This UN official added: “Afghan women have been sidelined in Doha negotiations and even one clause did not include the protection of women’s rights and these failures are part of the policies we are facing today. The past is full of examples of neglect or ignoring women.”
Karima Bennoune, a former UN Special Rapporteur, asked participants to hold the Taliban accountable for implementing “gender apartheid”. She said that the Taliban have issued 65 prohibitive orders against women and the group’s actions to limit women’s rights are “gender apartheid”. According to her, what is happening in Afghanistan must be recognized. From the perspective of this human rights expert, the Taliban’s policies threaten global peace and security.
On the other hand, Naseer Ahmad Faiq the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, in his speech referring to widespread human rights violations by the Taliban, said that women and girls in Afghanistan are “enduring gender apartheid”. He called for a special session of the UN General Assembly to address this issue and added that this is a fundamental demand of women of Afghanistan.
Faiq emphasized that the Taliban have continued to severely violate human rights, brutal punishments, suppress media and civil society, and have made crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian laws prevalent in Afghanistan. According to him, the social conditions of Afghanistan under Taliban rule have significantly regressed and women and other social groups have been marginalized. Faiq noted that the Taliban have also eliminated or suppressed cultural and artistic freedoms.
In addition, the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations added that people are constantly living in fear of retaliation and the Taliban’s strict laws. According to Naseer Ahmad Faiq, forced marriages and sexual abuse by Taliban officials are ongoing without punishment, putting women at serious risk. He also emphasized that people are witnessing arbitrary arrests, illegal killings forced disappearances, and torture, and above all, former military personnel and civilians accused of membership in groups opposing the Taliban are at risk.
Faiq expressed serious concern about the worsening security situation, adding that the Taliban, by sheltering 20 terrorist groups, have turned Afghanistan into a haven for terrorism and their statements about combating drugs and terrorism are hollow and meaningless. According to him, the Taliban are fighting among themselves over drug trafficking and resource distribution. He reminded of the rise of extremism and asked the international community to interact and dialogue with democratic political forces in Afghanistan.
At the same time, several permanent and non-permanent members of the United Nations also called for increased pressure on the Taliban. They said that Security Council members should stop human rights violations, especially women’s rights by the Taliban by exerting pressure. Robert Wood, the Alternate Representative of the United States to the United Nations, said that Security Council members should put pressure on the Taliban to stop human rights violations and start a dialogue. He added that human rights violations by the Taliban are also opposed by Islamic countries.
In this meeting of the United Nations Security Council, in addition to discussing the human rights situation in Afghanistan, concerns were expressed about the presence of terrorist groups and the intensification of extremism. Polyustigneva, the deputy representative of Russia to the United Nations, said that Moscow is concerned about the threat of terrorist groups in Afghanistan. He emphasized that terrorist groups, including ISIS, have been strengthened in Afghanistan. This Russian official added that the threat of terrorism spreading from Afghanistan to Central Asia persists.
Also, Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst, the Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, expressed concern about the worsening security situation, systematic repression of people, and deprivation of women’s rights in Afghanistan. She noted that the security situation in Afghanistan is extremely worrying and terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda have taken refuge in this country.
It is worth noting that this meeting ended with a verbal dispute between the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations. Naseer Ahmad Faiq accused Pakistan of playing a double game with terrorism and said that, on the one hand, Pakistan calls the increase in terrorist activities worrying, and on the other hand they are lobbying for “a terrorist group”.