New York, 26 September 2023
Two years after the Taliban takeover, the overall situation remains dire, in every aspect and respect, with Taliban’s draconian restrictions on freedom and liberties getting worse, particularly on Afghan women and girls.
Under such circumstances, the international community continues to struggle to find a balance between providing desperately needed aid to millions, engaging with the de facto authorities but not rewarding them and their hardline retrograde policies.
Despite best efforts, the humanitarian response in Afghanistan simply cannot keep pace with the country’s worsening conditions.
There is no better example to illustrate the destructive and abusive approach of the Taliban toward humanitarian assistance than the absurd restrictions they have imposed on United Nations Afghan female personnel, constraining the work of the organization.
Unfortunately and regrettably, the Taliban have made a choice: instead of engaging to finding long-term sustainable solutions, increased humanitarian assistance, ensure and strengthen economic stability and resume development aid, they prefer to impose their medieval retrograde draconian rules knowing what it means for the country, even if it means leaving people without food, throwing them into hunger and starvation.
We remain alarmed by reports of ongoing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and torture and ill-treatment of former government officials and members of the former Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
Once again, the Taliban are showing that they are unwilling to honor and uphold the commitment made in their general amnesty and their obligations under international human rights law.
Continuous accusations and detentions of journalist, writers, and critics of Taliban rule, have further reduced the freedom of expression, shutting down those few courageous voices of truth and reason still left in the country! This is unacceptable.
The Taliban are trying to present themselves as promoter of economic health and guarantor of security. It would be wonderful if it weren’t only a façade!
To date, there is no indicator showing that the general population is profiting from economic gains. We are still witnessing massive poverty, suffering and destitution with close to two thirds of the population relying on life-saving aid to survive.
The continued presence and activities of terrorist elements remains a serious concern. Once a terror harbor, Afghanistan is turning into a fertile ground for radicalization, especially among the betrayed youth.
Let me conclude with the core issue – the unacceptable situation of women and girls in Afghanistan.
The de facto authorities in Afghanistan continue to violate every rule, every principle that form the foundation of the international human rights system, as all our briefers and many colleagues highlighted.
The Taliban continue to betray the Afghan people who look for and deserve respect, dignity and justice.
They continue to slide backwards, while the country, its people need the opposite. This is as regrettable as intolerable.
We must continue to speak out firmly and strongly just like 11 Members of the Council, signatories of the Statement of Shared Commitments for the principles of Women, Peace, and Security did in a joint public statement before this meeting.
We cannot contemplate unparalleled despicable and unacceptable gender discrimination policies and need to call them by their real name – gender apartheid. Yes, the word is strong, but the word is right. It reflects the horrible reality and we concur with you, Karima. We cannot only repeat our statements and condemnation here.
We must do more.
It is our collective responsibility to explore avenues for accountability, to hold those responsible for gender persecution to account.
We must not let these violations go unpunished.
What they are imposing on women and girls amounts to a crime, and crimes must be punished.
We must use all tools at disposal to ensure that the perpetrators of gender-based discrimination face the full weight of justice for violations of international conventions such as CPRW and CEDAW, treaties that Afghanistan is a party to.
We must not look away just because it is difficult;
We must not get discouraged, just because the Taliban remain deaf and defiant.
The Taliban want recognition. They must earn it by changing their policies.
While we wait for the independent evaluation due soon, we will continue to stand with the Afghan people and their aspirations for equal rights and a future in prosperity.