UN Wants the Taliban to Attend Meeting in Qatar

The United Nations is organizing a two-day international conference on Afghanistan in Qatar next week. It wants the representatives of the Taliban to attend meeting. Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has stated that Taliban will attend the meeting on February 18 if they are recognised as official representatives of Afghanistan. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will host the session. Special envoys on Afghanistan from member states and regional organizations will attend the meeting. 

Objectives of meeting

The objective of the meeting is to discuss the international engagement approach with the Taliban since they regained power. An important aspect of the event is to provide an opportunity for special envoys to meet with Afghan stakeholders, including representatives of the de facto authorities and Afghan civil society participants, including women.

This will be the second U.N.-organized gathering in less than a year. It is important to note that the Taliban did not receive invitation to the previous session held in May 2023. Muttaqi has expressed that they are in contact with the U.N. officials and have shared their views on possible participation in the conference. 

Appointment of UN envoy in Afghanistan

The appointment of a U.N. envoy to coordinate international engagement with Taliban leaders in Kabul is a key agenda item. The US and its European allies are supporting this appointment. contrarily, China and Russia abstained from a Security Council vote on this matter in December 2023. However, the de facto Afghan authorities oppose appointing a U.N. envoy to the country. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West and Rina Amiri, the special envoy for Afghan women, girls, and human rights, will attend the meeting in Doha on Sunday.” The call for a U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan in the resolution is strongly supported by the United States and the State Department. It urges the secretary-general to appoint a special envoy as soon as possible,” said State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller.

Miller further emphasized the importance of a special envoy in coordinating international engagement in Afghanistan. He said this will help achieve the objectives laid out in the resolution.

The matter of formal recognition

The United States has consistently clarified that it does not support the Taliban government as part of any normalization efforts. During a White House news conference on Monday, John Kirby, the presidential national security spokesperson, stated that for the Taliban to be seen as legitimate rulers, they must fulfill the commitments they have made, which they have failed to do so far.

Contrary to the Taliban’s requests, the United Nations has not allowed them to represent Afghanistan at the world body, and no country has formally recognized the new Kabul government.

Human rights violations in Afghanistan

Since regaining power in August 2021, the de facto Afghan authorities have imposed strict interpretations of Islamic law.

The Taliban have placed severe restrictions on women’s rights, including work and education beyond the sixth grade. Despite international calls to remove these restrictions and establish an inclusive Afghan government, the Taliban have largely disregarded them. They often defend their governance as aligned with Afghan culture and Islamic law.

The U.N. and global human rights groups have accused the Taliban of committing human rights violations. They have condemned their discriminatory policies, with some condemning them as “gender apartheid.”

Due to concerns related to terrorism, both the US and the UN have imposed sanctions on the de facto rulers.