On the UN mission in Afghanistan

  • IASbaba
  • March 19, 2022
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  • GS-2: India and its neighbourhood.
  • GS-2: Impact of politics of other countries on India

On the UN mission in Afghanistan

Context: The U.N. Security Council has approved a robust mandate for its political mission in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover last August. 

What is the new mandate?

  • The new mandate authorizes the U.N. mission, known as UNAMA, to promote gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, human rights of all Afghans and an inclusive and representative government.
  • The Norwegian-drafted resolution was adopted by a vote of 14-0, with Russia abstaining. 
    • Russia criticized the council for not consulting the host country (Afghanistan) on the U.N. presence, saying that “substantive cooperation” between UNAMA and the Taliban would help the U.N. achieve its objectives.
  • The U.N. mission’s mandate also includes coordination and delivery of desperately needed aid.
  • The council authorized UNAMA “to facilitate dialogue between all relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders, the region and the wider international community.”
  • Security Council sent a clear message that the UNAMA “has a crucial role to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and in supporting Afghan people as they face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty.”

What are the present challenges in Afghanistan?

  • Access to education for girls: With US withdrawal after 20 years of war (2001-2021), Taliban took over the country. Taliban who is in power have denied girls and women rights to education and barred them from public life.  The Taliban are now allowing girls to go to elementary school but older girls are still denied education.
  • Restriction on working women: Barring some sectors such as health care and education, Afghanistan’s vast number of working women are not allowed to go to their workplaces.
  • Intolerance towards minorities: There are reports of reprisals against former government officials, as well as attacks and intimidation against minority groups and civil society and detentions and enforced disappearances. 
  • Fear of supporting extremist group: The Taliban are yet to demonstrate that extremist groups are no longer able to flourish in the country
  • Power Sharing: The new Taliban rulers promised an inclusive government.  However, the Taliban-appointed Cabinet remains overwhelmingly Pashtun and without women. The Taliban shows no signs of sharing power or respecting the basic rights of Afghans.
  • Economic Crisis: Before the Taliban takeover, two-thirds of the Afghan government’s expenditure came through donations. As no country has recognised the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, these donations have dried up since August hampering the government functioning.
  • Mass Starvation: Only 2% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people have enough food, according to the World Food Programme.
  • Rising Poverty: Afghanistan’s economy is expected to contract by 30% this year and nearly every Afghan citizen could be living in poverty by mid-2022, according to the UN. 
  • Reluctance of International Actors: The international community is reluctant to step in over fears that the Taliban would use the aid to consolidate their power and resist further demands for reforms. 

Way Forward

  • International community cannot just look away when Afghans face mass starvation. 
  • With the fresh mandate, which got the support of almost all the major powers, the UN mission should start engaging the Taliban. 
  • This does not mean that the member countries should offer quick recognition to the Taliban regime. 
  • They should offer humanitarian assistance to the Afghans in consultations with the Mullahs, while at the same time putting pressure on them to accept at least short-term reforms and take measures to respect basic human rights.

Connecting the dots:

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