Special Envoys and Representatives for Afghanistan from the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Washington DC on September 15, 2022 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Other officials from Japan, Qatar, Switzerland and UNAMA also attended the meeting as observers, which included technical sessions with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
The Special Envoys and Representatives for Afghanistan:
- expressed its deep concern at the ongoing undermining of Afghans’ human rights and fundamental freedoms; Welcomes the recent report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan to the UN Human Rights Council; condemned violations of international humanitarian law and violations of rights protected by international human rights treaties and conventions to which Afghanistan is a party, including violations of rights of members of ethnic and religious minorities or other marginalized groups; condemned in particular the abuses of Afghan women and girls’ rights across the country, including restrictions on freedom of movement, and their exclusion from political, economic, educational and social spaces; notes that since August 2021 no fewer than 16 announcements and guidelines have been issued by the Taliban restricting women and girls from exercising their rights; and called for the immediate lifting of the Taliban’s ban on girls attending grades 7 through 12, noting that girls have not attended schools at these levels in most parts of the country for the past year.
- Condemned the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and expression, particularly through the repression of the media, including women reporters, and condemned the detention of Afghan and foreign journalists.
- stressed the urgency of continuing to address the serious humanitarian crisis in the country, including through measures to prepare the Afghan people for the upcoming winter; highlighted the extensive humanitarian assistance provided to Afghanistan by their respective governments and organizations since August 2021; reiterated the need for all relevant actors to comply with applicable international law and ensure the independence of humanitarian organisations; stressed the importance of all humanitarian workers – men and women – having unimpeded access to all areas of the country needed to carry out their work effectively; called for the observance of humanitarian principles and the removal of all restrictions and obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid; and stressed the importance of equitable and direct access to humanitarian assistance and assistance aimed at meeting basic human needs, with due regard for vulnerable populations, including women and female-headed households, children, and ethnic and religious communities.
- expressed its deep concern at the continued presence and operations of terrorists and terrorist groups in Afghanistan, including al-Qaeda and other groups with the stated aim of targeting countries in the region and beyond; and strongly condemned the recent presence of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan and stressed that Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul was a clear example of the Taliban not fulfilling their counter-terrorism obligations.
- stressed that the Taliban must take sustained and verifiable action against all terrorist groups and activities in Afghanistan, in accordance with their obligations and applicable international law, including international humanitarian law; condemned the recent attacks by ISIS-K on civilians, the diplomatic community and areas where civilians gather, including mosques; recognized active Taliban operations against ISIS-K; and called on the Taliban to protect vulnerable ethnic and religious communities from attacks by members of ISIS-K and other terrorists and to take all possible steps to ensure the perpetrators of such attacks are held accountable.
- stresses that lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan requires a credible and inclusive national dialogue leading to a constitutional order with a representative political system; notes that without a broadly representative and accountable government selected through a credible process in which all adult Afghan women and men can participate, the risk of armed conflict is likely to increase significantly; and called on the Taliban to honor their commitment, made in the February 2020 Doha Accords, to engage in intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations on a political roadmap leading to a new Afghan Islamic government.
- Underlined the importance of the Taliban fulfilling their commitments to combat drug production and trafficking.
- noted that the Taliban are committed to providing safe and orderly entry into and out of Afghanistan for foreign nationals and Afghans – both women and men – who are properly documented.
- Discussed the recent phasing out of exceptions to the UN travel ban for certain Taliban leaders and called on all countries to act responsibly in implementing their UN commitments.
- stresses that foreign aid to Afghanistan benefits the Afghan people and does not indicate progress towards normalizing relations with the Taliban; and noted that engagement by members of the international community with the Taliban should not be interpreted as progress towards normalization.
- stressed the need for the Taliban to focus on the country’s economic crisis and create an enabling environment for larger investments, including by upholding a fair and transparent rule of law; stressed that humanitarian aid and support for basic human needs are not enough to prevent further deterioration of the country’s economy; discussed other ways to help sustain Afghan livelihoods through economic stabilization and increased liquidity in the country; stressed the importance of revitalizing Afghanistan’s banking and financial sector and facilitating legal cross-border money flows; stressed the need to improve the capacity, transparency and professionalism of the Afghan central bank in efforts to increase liquidity and stabilize the economy; Notes the recent establishment of the Afghan Fund in Switzerland, which aims to conserve and protect the Afghan Central Bank’s reserves and to target disbursements from these reserves to benefit the people of Afghanistan; and stressed the need for the Afghan central bank to (1) demonstrate its independence from political influence and interference; (2) demonstrate that it has adequate anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) controls in place; and (3) conduct a needs analysis by a third party and engage a reputable external monitor.
- Welcomes the appointment of Ms Roza Otunbayeva by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as the new Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA; and called on the Taliban, other Afghans and members of the international community to work with SRSG Otunbayeva in implementing UNAMA’s mandate, including promoting dialogue among all relevant Afghan stakeholders aiming to achieve an inclusive, responsive, representative and participatory to achieve governance at the national and international levels at the sub-national level and to monitor the human rights situation; and expressed its support for the UN Human Rights Council’s extension of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, called for the strengthening of his role on gender rights and an increase in the Office’s financial resources, and welcomed his achievements to date in this capacity work done by Mr Richard Bennett.
- welcomed UNAMA’s mandate to promote transitional justice and called on the Taliban and other Afghans to work in good faith to address the country’s legacy of war crimes and other violence; Acknowledging that grievances exist on all sides of the conflict, noting that lasting peace is unlikely without a reconciliation process that prioritizes healing and restorative justice over retaliation; and noted the importance of complying with the Taliban’s amnesty policy for former Islamic Republic officials and maintaining accountability for those violating that policy.
- stressed the need for all members of the international community, particularly Afghanistan’s neighbors, other partners in the region and Muslim-majority countries, to work together in Afghanistan in the interests of the Afghan people.
- expressed appreciation for the United States for organizing these consultations and hosting the meeting.