UN Agrees To Ban Afghan Women From Attending Taliban Meeting On Human Rights

Tobietje Paeschen

The United Nations has buckled to Taliban demands to ensure that no Afghan women are present during an upcoming meeting between special envoys and Taliban representatives in Doha. The Islamic militants have also demanded women’s rights issues be struck off from discussion completely.

The Taliban re-took control of Afghanistan in 2021, after the United States and NATO forces departed following 20 years of conflict. Their authority as Afghanistan’s government lacks international recognition, with the UN indicating that acknowledgment is unlikely due to ongoing human rights concerns. Chiefly among those concerns have been the treatment of women and girls, who are facing increasingly extreme restrictions under Taliban rule.

Since 2021, Afghan women and girls have experienced a major rollback to the rights they had been afforded under US occupation. The Taliban has prohibited women from working, going to school, or showing their faces in public, with women found in violation of their strict regulations being disappeared, tortured, or even killed.

But despite these ongoing human rights abuses, the United Nations has agreed to Taliban conditions that no Afghan women’s rights advocates will be present during the upcoming June 30th meeting in Doha, Qatar.

UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, UN special envoy on Afghanistan Roza Otunbayeva, and envoys from various countries have said they plan to meet separately with Afghan civil society groups after the meeting with the Taliban.

But Human Rights Watch is condemning the concession, arguing that it “risks legitimizing the Taliban’s abuses and triggering irreparable harm to the UN’s credibility as an advocate for women’s rights and women’s meaningful participation.”

 Former Afghan minister of women’s affairs Sima Samar similarly condemned the UN for the move.

“This situation is an indirect submission to the will of the Taliban. Law, democracy and sustainable peace are not possible without including half of the population of the society who are women. I don’t think we have learned anything from past mistakes,” she said.

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