Taliban-controlled Afghanistan plans to seek seat on UN Human Rights Council: report

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A UN watchdog group has highlighted the possibility that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan could gain a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council in October.

UN Watch tweeted a press release about the Maldives’ intention to run for a seat on the Human Rights Council, noting that South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan are other candidates vying for the open Asian seats.

The UN Human Rights Council is no stranger to controversy and having undemocratic, dictatorial members on the council is nothing new. Earlier this year, Russia was voted out of the council by the UN General Assembly.

Other controversial members include China, Cuba and Venezuela.

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Afghanistan would occupy one of the 14 available seats. The former government of Afghanistan retains control of the UN permanent mission, but the Taliban nominated one of its spokespersons to take the position of ambassador, a decision left to a nine-member faith commission that includes China, Russia and the United States. . The committee has yet to rule on the Taliban’s request.

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UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer called it “two steps” for the Taliban to get a seat on the council.

The Human Rights Council scorecard on Afghanistan is more against than in support of it. The current Afghan government has not ratified the nine main international human rights conventions, nor has it developed or published a plan for implementing the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review.

Ambassador of Afghanistan Nasir Ahmad Andisha speaks during a special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation in Afghanistan at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, August 24, 2021.
(Reuters/Denis Balibouse)

The UN convened an “urgent debate” on Afghanistan on July 1 to address concerns over the Taliban’s control of the country. A report from the UN mission in Afghanistan released just a few weeks later confirmed the validity of many of the concerns raised in the wake of this change of power.

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The report noted that the Taliban has “limited disagreements by cracking down on protests and curtailing media freedoms,” and also noted the erosion of women’s and girls’ rights, including restrictions on the right to access education. and the workplace and participation in public life.

Taliban fighters stand guard next to a Taliban flag at a rally where Afghan Hazara elders pledged support to the country's new Taliban rulers in Kabul, November 25, 2021.

Taliban fighters stand guard next to a Taliban flag at a rally where Afghan Hazara elders pledged support to the country’s new Taliban rulers in Kabul, November 25, 2021.
(Aref Karimi/TSWT via Getty Images)

The report expressed concerns that the Taliban are acting with impunity and that the nationwide economic, financial and humanitarian crisis has exacerbated the situation.

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“Education is not only a basic human right, but the key to the development of a nation,” said Markus Potzel, the acting UN Special Representative for Afghanistan.

Taliban forces block roads around an airport as a woman wearing a burqa walks by in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2021.

Taliban forces block roads around an airport as a woman wearing a burqa walks by in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2021.
(REUTERS/Stringer)

“It is no longer time for all Afghans to live in peace and rebuild their lives after 20 years of armed conflict,” he added. “Our monitoring shows that, despite the improved security situation since (Aug. 15), the people of Afghanistan, especially women and girls, are being deprived of their full enjoyment of their human rights.”

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According to the report, at least 59% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance, a significant increase of six million people since the beginning of 2021.

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A spokesman for the UN Human Rights Council emphasized that the Taliban are not represented in any UN body and that Afghanistan has a representative on the permanent mission. A General Assembly spokesman did not respond to questions about the UN’s position on the pending decision.

The US left the Human Rights Council in 2018 over concerns the group was protecting human rights abusers and was “a cesspool of political bias”. President Biden sought reelection to the council shortly after taking office and secured a seat for the 2022-2024 term.

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