Last update: May 01, 2023, 2:40 p.m. HST
The Taliban will be absent from UN-led talks that begin in Qatar on Monday on how to handle Afghan leaders and urge them to ease a ban on women working and girls going to school. school.
Envoys from the United States, China and Russia as well as major European donors and key neighbors such as Pakistan are among representatives of around 25 countries and groups summoned to the two-day talks by the Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres.
The Taliban government was not invited, however, and prior to the meeting, the issue of recognition of the administration loomed large.
A small group of Afghan women staged a weekend protest march in Kabul to oppose any attempt to recognize the leaders who returned to power in August 2021.
In an open letter to the Doha meeting published on Sunday, a coalition of Afghan women’s groups said they were “outraged” that a country was considering formal ties because of the government’s record of saying its handling of women’s rights is “an internal social problem”. “.
The United Nations and the United States have insisted that recognition is not on the agenda.
Rights groups’ fears were fueled by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who said last month that the Doha meeting could find ‘small steps’ leading to ‘recognition in principle’ of the Taliban government.
The UN said the comments were misinterpreted. No country has established formal ties with the Taliban administration and UN membership can only be decided by the UN General Assembly.
Ahead of his arrival in Doha, Guterres’ office said the meeting “aims to reach a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban” on the rights of women and girls, the inclusive governance, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.
“Any form of recognition of the Taliban is completely irrelevant,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said last week.
Since the overthrow of a foreign-backed government in 2021, Taliban authorities have imposed an austere version of Sharia law that the United Nations has called “gender-based apartheid”.
Women have been excluded from most high school and university education, and prevented from working in most government jobs as well as in UN agencies and NGOs.
Although divided on many disputes, the powers of the UN Security Council united on Thursday to condemn the restrictions imposed on Afghan women and girls and to urge all countries to seek “an urgent reversal” of policies.
Diplomats and observers, however, say the Doha meeting highlights the dilemma facing the international community in handling Afghanistan, which the UN considers its biggest humanitarian crisis with millions of people dependent on aid. eating.
Amina Mohammed said it was “clear” that the Taliban authorities want recognition. Formal ties to the UN would help the government recover billions of dollars in desperately needed funds seized abroad after taking power.
But diplomats from several countries involved in the Doha talks said that would not be possible until there was change on women’s rights. The Afghan Foreign Ministry said after last week’s vote at the UN that “diversity must be respected and not politicized”.
UN chief to give Doha meeting update on review of world body’s critical relief operation in Afghanistan, ordered in April after authorities barred Afghan women from working with UN agencies, diplomats said.
The UN said it faced a “dreadful choice” over whether or not to keep its huge operation in the country of 38 million people. The review is expected to end on Friday.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)