UNSC calls on Taliban to ‘swiftly reverse’ crackdown on Afghan women’s rights

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously condemned a ban by the Taliban on Afghan women working for the UN in Afghanistan, calling on the Taliban leaders to “swiftly reverse” a crackdown on the rights of women and girls.

The resolution – drafted by the United Arab Emirates and Japan – describes the ban as “unprecedented in the history of the United Nations” and says it “undermines human rights and humanitarian principles”. The resolution also asserts “the indispensable role of women in Afghan society”.

UAE’s ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, said more than 90 countries co-sponsored the resolution – “from Afghanistan’s immediate neighbourhood, from the Muslim world and from all corners of the earth”.

“This … support makes our fundamental message today even more significant – the world will not sit by silently as women in Afghanistan are erased from society,” she told the UNSC.

The UNSC vote came days before a planned international meeting, regarding Afghanistan, in Doha on May 1-2. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene behind closed doors special envoys on Afghanistan from various countries to work on a unified approach to dealing with the Taliban.

“We will not stand for the Taliban’s repression of women and girls,” The United States deputy ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, told the UNSC, adding, “These decisions are indefensible. They are not seen anywhere else in the world.”

“The Taliban edicts are causing irreparable damage to Afghanistan,” he continued.

Earlier this month, the Taliban began enforcing the ban on Afghan women working for the UN after stopping most women working for humanitarian aid groups in December. Since toppling the Western-backed government in 2021, the group has also tightened controls on women’s access to public life, including barring women from university and closing girls’ high schools.

The Security Council resolution also recognises the need to address substantial challenges facing Afghanistan’s economy, including through using assets belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank for the benefit of the Afghan people.

Washington froze billions of the bank’s reserves held in the US and later transferred half of the money to a trust fund in Switzerland overseen by US, Swiss and Afghan trustees.

“As of today, what we have seen is only that assets have been transferred from one account to another, but not a single penny returned to the Afghan people,” China’s deputy UN ambassador, Geng Shuang, told the UNSC.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, also called for the return of the Afghan Central Bank assets.

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