1) United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: United Nations Transitions - Security Council, 8852nd Meeting; 2) The situation in Afghanistan - Security Council, 8853rd Meeting
The Security Council emphasized today the need to incorporate strategic planning for the eventual reconfiguration of peace operations into the “earliest possible stages” of their life cycle, as well as in their engagement with national actors and other stakeholders, as it adopted its first-ever stand-alone resolution on the transition that follows deployment of United Nations peacekeeping missions.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2594 (2021), the 15-member Council highlighted the crucial role played by peace operations, stressing the need for their engagement at the earliest stages in planning transitions alongside United Nations system partners, host country authorities and others.
Also by that resolution, the Council requested that the Secretary-General draw on lessons learned from past transitions in his continued planning and management of such processes, and to incorporate comprehensive reporting on the status of ongoing transitions in his regular country-specific reporting. It further requested that he provide a report on the status of transitions across relevant United Nations peace operations, including those that have transitioned in the previous two years, before 30 June 2022.
By other terms of the text, the Council emphasized that, in order to be sustainable, transition plans should take into account broad challenges — including risks to stability, governance and the rule of law — as well as the specific political, economic, development, humanitarian and human rights contexts on the ground. It stressed the importance of providing “clear, achievable, sequenced and prioritized mandates” based on accurate and reliable information and realistic assessments of threats facing civilians and United Nations personnel.
Noting the particular risks faced before and during transitions, the Council emphasized the importance of enhancing the safety and security of peacekeepers, in accordance with resolution 2518 (2020) and other relevant texts. In that regard, it requested that the Secretary-General continue to take all appropriate measures to enhance the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel, while asking him to plan for transitions that are integrated within the wider country-specific transition to peace.
The Council also requested that the Secretary-General elaborate mission‑transition strategies that build towards reconfiguration of the strategy, footprint and capacity of the United Nations presence, informed by input from stakeholders at all levels and in close consultation with national authorities and other stakeholders. It encouraged Governments to develop and implement comprehensive national plans, policies or strategies to protect civilians, including national benchmarks, ahead of peacekeeping transitions.
Further by the text, the Council requested that the Secretary-General direct peace operations to assist in such national efforts when host States request assistance. It also requested that he strengthen coordination among United Nations police, justice and corrections activities — as well as between the Organization’s uniformed components and relevant host State authorities — with a view to supporting the latter’s ability to provide critical functions in those fields.
Acknowledging the importance of strong coordination, coherence and cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission, the Council asked the Secretary‑General to liaise with that body ahead of his reporting, with a view to facilitating the Commission’s advice to the Security Council.
The meeting began at 3:08 p.m. and ended at 3:13 p.m.
World Learning More about Unchanged Nature of Taliban, Kabul Representative Says, as Speakers Demand End to Group’s Ties with Terrorists
The newly formed interim government in Afghanistan includes neither women nor minority leaders, but contains many figures who are on the United Nations Sanctions List, speakers in the Security Council said today, urging the now‑ruling Taliban to live up to their promises and establish a more inclusive and representative administration.
“The lives of millions of Afghans will depend on how the Taliban choose to govern,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), describing the all-male cabinet as “disappointing”. Of the 33 names presented, many are the same figures who were part of the Taliban leadership between 1996 and 2001, she added, noting that the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the foreign minister are under United Nations sanctions.
Although the 15-member Council must do something about those sanctioned individuals, Afghanistan’s current humanitarian situation cannot wait for such political decisions, she stated, emphasizing the immediate need to deliver, on a huge scale, the required aid in such areas as health, food security, non-food items and sanitation. Another crisis that must be avoided is economic collapse, she cautioned, stressing the need to resolve the issue of frozen overseas Afghan assets, while ensuring that those resources will not fall into the wrong hands.
“The best, and still possible outcome,” she continued, “would be for the Taliban to demonstrate that they seek to create an Afghanistan where people do not live in fear, where those with talents are invited to participate in rebuilding their country, and where boys and girls, young women and men, can receive the sort of education that will allow this development to continue”. The Afghan people will still need the support of the Council and the international community, she added.
Wazhma Frogh, founder of the Women and Peace Studies Organisation, said that, amid ongoing raids just yesterday, a 25-year-old policy specialist in the now-disbanded Ministry of Women’s Affairs had to burn her work and education certificates, including a copy of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Under Taliban rule, her best chance for a life is to burn those documents and disappear.
She recounted how she and 100 other women peacebuilders in Afghanistan initiated the first National Dialogue that brought all Afghans together. “We worked for the ceasefire and a national peace process,” she said, adding that they also reached out to local Taliban leaders and advocated for consideration of the grievances of suffering young people and families.
“In the end, we were betrayed by all, including the Afghan Government leadership,” she said. Urging the Council to include women in mediation teams, she requested that it facilitate a meeting between Afghan women from across the different professions — peacebuilders, judges, security officers, educators, doctors and businesswomen — and the Taliban.
Also briefing the Council was Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and civil society activist from Pakistan, who recounted what life was like in her hometown under Pakistani Taliban control. “I saw my home transformed from a place of peace to a place of fear in just three years,” she said, adding that thousands of people were displaced, while homes and schools were destroyed.
She went on to recall that, when she was 15 years old, a gunman stopped the bus in which she was riding, called out her name and fired a bullet at her, merely for having raised her voice in support of girls’ right to attend school. She added that now, at 24, she carries scars from the six surgeries she needed to recover. “This is a story that many Afghan girls may share if we do not act,” she warned, calling upon the Council to support Afghan women and girls in four ways.
The first is to send a clear and unequivocal message to the Taliban that a precondition of any working relationship is upholding the right of girls to education, she said. Second, support a robust monitoring mechanism to track and monitor human rights abuses in Afghanistan, with a specific focus on girls’ education. Third, significantly increase humanitarian and development aid to United Nations and other international organizations working to ensure that all schools can operate safely, including those in neighbouring countries hosting refugee children. And fourth, stand united as a Security Council in compelling the Taliban to “make real concessions”, she demanded.
In the ensuing discussion, most Council members, as well as representatives of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, emphasized that the Taliban will be judged by their actions, not by their words.
Afghanistan’s representative said the world is learning more about the true and unchanged nature of the Taliban day by day, noting that since the Council’s 30 August meeting on his country, the group has continued to commit human rights violations and possible war crimes, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The Taliban’s newly formed cabinet fails on all metrics of inclusivity and has been rejected by most Afghan people, he pointed out, warning that “a perfect storm is brewing”. Noting that the devastating impact of Afghanistan’s second major drought in four years is taking hold, a cold and dangerous winter approaching, the pandemic continuing to spread, the economy collapsing and no government in place to provide even the most basic services to people, he stressed: “The Afghan people need your help to survive.”
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, and Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, recalling from his country’s own experience that the full, equal and meaningful participation of women is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and political stability. “We owe this much to the women peacebuilders, who have given everything and are risking their lives for peace,” he emphasized. Noting that no evidence has yet emerged of a new approach by the Taliban, he said the new administration must adhere to its obligations under international law. The Taliban must also sever ties with all international terrorist organizations or continue to face sanction and isolation, he warned.
The representative of the United States, emphasizing that a new chapter of international engagement with Afghanistan has begun, said that, as the single largest donor to the country, Washington, D.C., is helping its implementing partners provide food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services and more to all those in need. He went on to stress that the Taliban must fully respect their obligations under international law, saying the United States will work with them should they uphold their commitments and demonstrate real inclusion.
The Russian Federation’s representative emphasized that it is not time to panic because the new caretaker government announced the end of hostilities, the restoration of order, a general amnesty for former Government officials and plans to eradicate narcotic drugs. The most pressing task is to provide timely humanitarian assistance to all those in urgent need, he said, warning against efforts by countries far from the region to hastily impose their own formulas.
Iran’s delegate said the current situation in Afghanistan is primarily the direct result of the intervention by the United States and other foreign forces and their irresponsible withdrawal. “When they entered Afghanistan, they brought catastrophe for Afghans, and when they withdrew, they left calamity for Afghans,” he added. Nearly 165,000 Afghans have been killed between 2001 and 2021, and the number of direct child casualties is estimated around 33,000, he noted, emphasizing that war crimes committed by foreign forces must not go unpunished.
Pakistan’s representative said that, behind Afghanistan, his country has suffered most from the conflict, with more than 80,000 nationals killed and thousands more injured in terrorist attacks. Pakistan’s economy has suffered dramatically, and it hosts more than 3 million Afghan refugees, he noted. He went on to read excerpts of an 8 September joint statement by neighbouring States, which calls upon the Taliban to embrace “moderate and sound” policies.
Also speaking were representatives of Estonia, Norway, United Kingdom, India, Niger (on behalf of Kenya, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), France, Mexico, Viet Nam, China, Turkey and Kazakhstan.
The meeting began at 3:14 p.m. and ended at 5:40 p.m.