50th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Afghanistan


June 15th, 2022: Interactive Dialogue on HC oral update on Afghanistan.

All sources used to draft the report can be found here and here. The report was drafted by Sophie Bionaz on June 17th, 2022.

Composition of the HRC

Mr Ulugbek Lapasov, Vice President of the Human Rights Council, opens the interactive dialogue on the oral update of the High Commissioner submitted pursuant to Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/48/1.

Mrs Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, presents her update on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan.

In the wake of years of conflict and since the takeover of the country by the Taliban in August 2021, Afghanistan is in a deep social, economic, humanitarian, and human rights crisis. After her visit and meeting with the representative of the de facto authorities and meetings with several women, the High Commissioner discussed the scourge of gender inequality in Afghanistan, defining it as a struggle amidst unimaginable challenges. The situation is critical: the ban on quality secondary school affects 1.1 million girls and deprives them of a future. Other decrees have been passed impacting women and girls' rights: the enforcement of the Hijab rule, barriers to women's access to employment (including female NGO workers), the exclusion from political and public life, and the restriction of the freedom of movement. The institutionalised systematic oppression of women impedes the access for women and children to health services, livelihoods and humanitarian aid. While Afghanistan has ratified several international treaties, including the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the de facto authorities do not comply with their international obligations. However, during her visit, the High Commissioner recognised the significance of the general amnesty granted to former officials and members of security forces as an important step towards reconciliation. She expresses her concern that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) will continue receiving reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions, ill-treatment and extrajudicial killings, as well as attacks on civilians and ethnic and religious minorities. It is essential to remind the de facto authorities of the responsibility to protect all Afghans subject to their control. The High Commissioner is also concerned of alleged human rights violations and abuses against civilians in the northern provinces, which require verification. She calls upon both parties to the conflict to observe and respect international human rights and humanitarian law. Despite the authorities' repeated public commitment to respect human rights, civic space has shrunk since their return to power. Civil society actors have been subjected to killings and forced disappearances. With mounting unemployment rates, 93% of all households face food insecurity with stronger impacts on those most vulnerable. Access to basic services, especially health services, is diminishing. There is also a lack of national mechanisms to monitor human rights violations, especially after the recent dissolution of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). The High Commissioner welcomes the appointment of the Special Rapporteur on the human situation in Afghanistan and reiterates some key points made during and following her visit to the country: the representation of all Afghans in policy and decision-making (including women and girls, religious and ethnic minorities, marginalized and vulnerable people) is crucial to achieving peace. The High Commissioner urges the

international community to make funds available to allow Afghans to move beyond the humanitarian and economic crisis.

The Vice President invites the delegation of the country concerned to speak.

The Representative of Afghanistan thanks the High Commissioner for the oral update and for her recent visit to Afghanistan. Even though over the past 10 months the international community has used all means possible to engage with the Taliban, all the efforts are now approaching a dead end. The violent extremist groups have removed decree by decree every fundamental right and liberty of the citizens. Especially women have become invisible in public life. Reports of violations of international humanitarian law by the Taleban, including extrajudicial killings, torture, forced displacements, denial of access to medical facilities and killings of war-wounded are worrisome, especially as linked with the absence of free media and almost non-existent human rights monitoring mechanisms. Girls still cannot attend schools beyond 6th grade. Women and girls are excluded from work, face gender-based violence and cannot travel or pray in places of worship. Journalists face arbitrary arrests and children are at the risk of exploitation. The representative of Afghanistan reiterates that the promotion and protection of the rights of all citizens must remain a priority on the human rights agenda and calls on the vice president to deploy funding and operations to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance, as well as protection initiatives for vulnerable people. On behalf of the millions of Afghans suffering, he urges the international community not to further give up. Afghanistan can serve as an example of courage and commitment to fundamental human rights. The representative finally welcomes the visit of the Special Rapporteur and calls on relevant mandate holders and mechanisms to monitor the human rights situation on the ground, as well as reinforce a monitoring mechanism for scrutiny and accountability.

Statements by States and International Organizations

Finland, on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, regrets the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially as regards arbitrary detentions and killings, torture and forced disappearances, mistreatment of protestors and journalists, and the impunity for these violations. Finland also expresses its concern about women, which cannot exercise their human rights freely and are excluded from society at large. These actions do not only violate human rights, but they also pose a threat to the future of Afghanistan. Finland expects the Taliban to prove that they take international obligations seriously, granting the Special Rapporteur access and more action.

The European Union (EU) is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Afghanistan. The systematic exclusion of women and girls from enjoying their fundamental freedoms is unacceptable. The security situation is worrisome: ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQIA persons, human rights defenders, journalists, and humanitarian personnel are at risk. Reports of extrajudicial killings of former members of security forces and gender-based violence, including conflict-related gender violence and rape, are alarming. The EU expresses deep concern about the humanitarian situation, food insecurity, and the most vulnerable groups. Finally, the EU strongly supports the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, which is necessary and crucial. The EU finally calls on the Taliban to continue providing access to international missions.

Pakistan, on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reiterates its concern that the near collapse of the economic system and the serious humanitarian situation

hinder the enjoyment of basic human rights. The OIC echoes the UN Secretary-General's call for the continuous provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The OIC underlines that it is critical to pursue pragmatic solutions to unfreeze Afghanistan's financial assets to prevent an economic meltdown and the further deterioration of human conditions. The international engagement with Afghanistan along peace, development and the human track remains key to safeguarding the basic rights, needs and dignity of the Afghans. The OIC is actively engaging with the de facto authorities by strengthening its mission in Kabul and through the appointment of a Special Envoy. Durable peace and stability are only possible through the formation of an inclusive government. The OIC has established the Food Security Program and operationalised the Humanitarian Trust Fund. Pakistan is concerned that the suspension of education of girls in high school until further notice will still stand. The participation of women and girls in all fields of society remains important. The OIC stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and underscores the need for transparent investigations into human rights violations and abuses.

Kazakhstan, on behalf of the Central Asian countries, states that central Asia is going towards closer regional convergence in politics, economy, trade and security. Kazakhstan attaches primary importance to the issue of security and the stable development of the region. Peace and security in Afghanistan as a neighbouring country are crucial. Kazakhstan supports an inclusive and independent administration of Afghanistan which considers the needs of minorities and gender aspects. The country expresses its concern that the Afghans face a devastating humanitarian and economic crisis affecting the enjoyment of their rights. It is critical to continue trade, economy, transport, logistics and energy cooperation with Afghanistan to solve current problems. Kazakhstan supports the continuous UN presence in Afghanistan to promote inclusive governance, reconciliation, and respect for fundamental rights.

Liechtenstein regrets the deterioration of the human rights situation on the ground, as well as the dissolution of the AIHRC, deemed unnecessary by the Taleban. The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice continues to restrict women's rights and civic space, although the Taleban have promised to protect women's rights. Liechtenstein condemns the exclusion of girls from secondary education and the almost total exclusion of women from the professional and public spheres. Liechtenstein expresses its concern about the growing poverty in the country and its consequences, for example, child marriage. In conclusion, Liechtenstein stresses the importance of accountability for all human rights violations.

UN Women is gravely concerned by the increasing restrictions faced by Afghan women and girls. The announcement made by the Taliban that all women must cover their faces in public and leave home only the necessity and that violations will lead to punishment of their male relatives is concerning. UN Women is alarmed by reports from civil society organisations of their restriction of movement. Women are prevented from earning a living, accessing health care and education, escaping violence, and exercising their rights. These violations of their rights are costing Afghanistan a considerable economic loss, and the latest restrictions are making recovery harder, if not impossible. UN Women urgently calls on the de facto authorities to respect their obligations under human rights law.

France deplores that the human rights situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating since the rise to power of the Taliban. Humanitarian assistance by the international community has enabled us to avoid the worst outcome but the de facto authorities have done nothing to allow

Afghans to enjoy their economic, social and political rights. France condemns the decision by the Taliban to impose women to cover their faces and to close schools to girls. The Taliban follow a rule of repression, systematic exclusion of half of the population, and violation of international law. The Taliban are also unable to protect the population against terrorism. France urges the Taliban to respect their obligations and reiterates its support to the oppressed population.

Qatar expresses its concern about the deterioration of the humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan. The international community must provide humanitarian assistance to the affected population. It is important to preserve the progress made in the area of the rights of women and girls to education. Qatar calls for facilitating access to humanitarian action. The country welcomes the Trust Fund for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and supports the Afghan people and a sense of lasting peace, the rule of law, and an inclusive political settlement.

Germany expresses its deep concern about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls. Germany condemns the regression in the rights of freedom of expression, assembly, association, freedom of movement, participation in social and economic life, and sexual and reproductive rights. The denial of access to education to girls and the persecution of women for standing up for themselves are alarming, with women facing rising exploitation, domestic violence and abuses, thus undoing years of progress. Germany expresses its solidarity with women and girls and all those who work for human rights in the country. Germany is firmly committed to contributing to human rights protection in Afghanistan and strongly supports the work of UNAMA and the Special Rapporteur. It reiterated that respect for the human rights of all is key for peace and sustainable development in the country.

Pakistan affirms that, on one hand, the significant decrease in violence and civilian casualties are encouraging but, on the other hand, the deterioration of the humanitarian and economic situation has impacted the rights of the people. Pakistan is particularly concerned as an immediate neighbour and requires responsive measures on the part of the de facto authorities and the international community. The key priority should be to prevent an economic and state meltdown and to meet humanitarian needs. Pakistan has provided food and humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The country advocates for an inclusive, peaceful and stable Afghanistan. At the centre must remain the dignity and wellbeing of the people.

The Vice President announces that some delegations have requested to exercise the right of reply. The meeting on Afghanistan continues on the following day.

Ambassador Federico Villegas, President of the 50th session of the Human Rights Council, opens the 8th meeting of the 50th session of HRC by resuming the interactive dialogue and the oral update by the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan.

Mexico notes with concern that Afghan authorities continue implementing measures that undermine the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Mexico regrets the decision to remove the AIHRC, which represents a negative setback and will have repercussions on the well-being of the population. The Mexican Foreign Affairs Office created a safe passage so that women, girls, and human rights defenders would have international protection on Mexican soil. It is essential to guarantee gender equality and

respect for human rights. Mexico calls on authorities to guarantee full, effective participation in public and political life. It is also essential to guarantee access for women and girls to education and remove restrictions on freedom of movement, association and expression.

Switzerland is deeply concerned with human rights violations, in particular against women and girls. Girls must be able to go to school and university and make a tangible contribution to their country's future. Participation of women in all aspects of public life is the basis for a sense of lasting peace. Switzerland stresses the need to adopt approaches to prevent and respond to gender-based violence and reiterates the importance of legal responsibility as an independent investigative mechanism. Switzerland calls upon all states to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. The country asks the High Commissioner to elaborate on the possible ways of preventing the continuation of impunity and contributing to the reestablishment of a safe environment for Afghans.

Luxembourg supports the statement made by the EU. The country took note of the will expressed by the de facto authorities to work with the UN but that promise must be followed by concrete acts and not withdrawn. Human rights are in a crisis despite the authorities' reassurances. The persecution of women and journalists, and media employees, has continued systematically. Luxembourg calls upon authorities to guarantee the respect of the human rights of women and girls, as well as the economic, social and cultural rights of the whole population and minorities.

Spain aligns itself with the statement made by the EU. The situation for Afghan girls and women has only gone from bad to worse. Spain is deeply concerned by the continuous violations of human rights in Afghanistan, where there is institutionalised oppression of women. Such a society cannot aspire to a promising future and sustainable development. Spain will continue to denounce the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and ask for accountability. Spain asks the High Commissioner how to continue to help Afghan women.

Canada condemns in stronger terms the Taliban decision to ban girls from returning to school and expresses grave concerns over the Taliban decree ordering women to fully cover their faces in public and stay home. This legitimises men's power and control over women and increases domestic violence. Canada notes with concern the decision to abolish the AIHRC. Domestic independent accountability mechanisms are essential to monitoring the human rights situation on the ground. Canada asks the High Commissioner how the international community can best coordinate efforts to urge the Taliban to uphold their human rights obligations.

Venezuela affirms that the situation in Afghanistan is a consequence of the policy of the US, which after two decades of military occupation left the country plunged in uncertainty. Their bloody occupation with massacres and unpunished crimes are crimes against humanity. Venezuela is concerned about the humanitarian situation created by the conflict and the measures imposed by hegemonic countries. The resources of Afghanistan have been hijacked, with the blocking of financing from the IMF and the World Bank. Venezuela calls for these bloody measures to be lifted and calls for dialogue. The country continues to encourage a peaceful and long-lasting solution based on respect for sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs.

Namibia has always advocated for the recognition and universal respect for the rights of women and is deeply concerned by the repression of the rights of women and girls in

Afghanistan since the Taliban took power. Namibia reminds Taliban authorities that peace and sustainable development are not possible without protecting the rights of women, including their participation in governance and decision-making, education, and freedom of movement and expression. Namibia calls on all relevant UN bodies and mechanisms, including UNAMA, the Special Rapporteur and UN Secretary-General to pay close attention to and support efforts in Afghanistan.

Australia underlines that Afghan women and girls make an enormous contribution to the country and that their full and equal participation must be ensured. Australia is concerned that increasing Taliban restrictions (hijab mandate, travel requirements and exclusion from school) will marginalize Afghan women from public life. Taliban directives restricting women's rights contradict their reassurance to respect and protect the human rights of all. Australia urges the Taliban to honour their commitments and asks for additional steps from the international community to encourage the Taliban to guarantee these rights.

Belgium supports the statement of the EU. The country acknowledges the decision of the de facto authorities to issue a standing invitation to the Special Rapporteur and welcome the recent visit of the High Commissioner. However, it condemns the regression in fundamental rights of the last months, in particular the broken promises by the Taliban in respecting the rights of women and girls. Belgium expresses its concern at the alleged targeted killings of political opponents and repression of minorities, including the Hazara, and regrets that the freedom of expression and press is repressed. Belgium asks the High Commissioner how the international community can effectively support a culture of human rights monitoring and advocacy in Afghanistan now that the national institution has been deactivated.

The Russian Federation notes the efforts of Afghanistan to stabilize the military, political and social situation. Russia draws attention to the need to implement obligations in the process of reconciliation and calls upon the Taliban to have a responsible policy toward foreign players and the civilian population. The Russian Federation is concerned about the humanitarian and socio-economic situation, which assisted Afghans, including food, warm clothing and medicine. Russia believes that the main burden in the post-conflict restoration of Afghanistan must be borne by the US and its allies, which are fully responsible for the war unleashed and which has led to instability and terrorism and destroyed the Afghan economy. Russia notes the need to unfreeze Afghan assets in the West and restore the banking system. The country regrets that the Western community continues to believe and pretend it has nothing to do with all of that.

Malaysia associates with the statement of the OIC and calls for an inclusive Afghan-led peace reconciliation process. Malaysia urges the concerned parties to come together to find a lasting political solution. These processes must uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, the inclusion of youth, women, and ethnic and religious minorities. The Malaysian government, in collaboration with the private sector, launched a humanitarian relief mission in February 2022. Also, the donations to the OIC humanitarian Trust Fund and the giving of doses of vaccine demonstrate the solidarity of the people of Malaysia. Malaysia continues its efforts for constructive engagement with Afghanistan and provides capacity building.

India, as a contiguous neighbour and long-standing partner of Afghanistan, is deeply concerned by the recent developments. Its special relationship with the Afghan people has continued to drive its approach. India remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance, including to Afghan refugees. India has already provided vaccines, medicine and

winter clothing. The priority is to ensure regional stability, believing that there should be zero tolerance for terrorism.

China expresses the opinion that the current situation is trending towards stability, thanks to the government's progress in policy-making and implementation of challenges. The international community should further engage and talk with the Afghan authorities to give guidance and establish an inclusive political structure and robust foreign policies, combat all forms of terrorism and live in peace with all countries. It is urgent to provide humanitarian assistance and anti-covid support. The US is to be blamed for the Afghan issue, with the war resulting in innocent civilians killed by US troops or in conflict. The US not only fails to fulfil its obligations to help the Afghans mitigate the crisis but also seizes national assets. China urges the US to lift unilateral sanctions, return the assets that belong to the people, and compensate for their suffering.

The Republic of Korea is deeply concerned over the human rights violations in Afghanistan, including the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and attacks against civilians. Worrying is the discrimination against women and girls, which limits their rights to education, employment and freedom of movement. The Republic of Korea is dismayed by the decision to deny secondary education to girls. The country calls upon the Taliban to reverse their policy and keep the commitment to reopen schools. Korea highlights that attacks against civilians, minorities, and infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law. The country asks the High Commissioner how to effectively coordinate the mandate of her office, the Special Rapporteur and UNAMA.

Greece aligns with the EU statement. Deeply concerned about the regression of fundamental rights of the people in A. Greece is alarmed by the violation of hr of women and girls. Measures such as the suspension of girls from education, restrictions of freedom of movement, association and expression, imposition to be fully covered, constitute serious breaches of human rights, deeply worried about the report of intimidation, attacks, arrests and disappearances of journalists, prosecutors and judges. Civil society and freedom of speech are the cornerstones of a democratic society. Greece supports the mandate of the UNSR and the work of UNAMA. Express concern about the ongoing human and economic crises, supporting international efforts.

Rumania aligns itself with the EU statement and expresses its concern about the general economic, social and security situation in Afghanistan. Rumania follows the statement on the importance of the recognition and protection of gender equality in Afghanistan, convinced that this aspect is central to achieving stability, justice and sustainable development in the country. The violation of the right to education, to work and health, to freedom of movement and expression, is deeply concerning. Rumania commends Afghan women and girls' resilience and courage in taking risks and protesting in the streets against Taliban policies. The country remains in solidarity with its fight and hope and urges the Taliban to end discrimination, and all violations of rights, which undermine Afghanistan's future.

Kazakhstan is absent.

The United Arab Emirates shares the concern regarding the respect for human rights, especially for women, children and minorities. The UAE Follows the development of the situation and notes a relative cessation of armed hostilities in many parts of the country and the consequent decrease in conflict-related losses since the takeover of the Taliban. On the

other hand, the country expresses the need for the authorities to commit to preventing terrorism and extremism. The stability of Afghanistan is central to the stability of its immediate neighbours. The UAE will keep supporting international efforts to promote peace and security, and initiatives for a more sustainable future. The UAE stresses the importance of continuing to coordinate efforts with the international community and organisations to deliver aid.

Portugal deplores the systematic erosion of the human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls. Since last August, the people in Afghanistan live under further restrictions in enjoying their rights. Portugal is particularly alarmed by the violence faced by children, persons belonging to ethnic or religious minorities, and gender and human rights defenders. Portugal calls for any targeted attack, extrajudicial killing, or arbitrary detention to be investigated. The situation must be kept eye on the multilateral agenda. Portugal supports the work of UNAMA and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. It must be made clear to the de facto authorities that respecting and protecting human rights is not a choice; it is an obligation. In conclusion, Portugal states that it has already welcomed over 800 Afghan refugees.

Turkey expresses its concern about the continuous erosion of the human rights situation in Afghanistan, in particular of women and girls. Restrictions are not in line with the Afghan people's expectations. Preventing girls from school is also damaging the sense of ownership by the Afghan people for their country. The economy will not fully recover without women's employment. Turkey has sent aid and contributed to the Trust Fund.

Italy aligns itself with the statement made by the EU. Italy gives attention to the most vulnerable: women and girls, children, human rights defenders, journalists, persons belonging to minorities, and LGBTIQ persons. Italy welcomes the visit of the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur in Afghanistan and supports UN efforts, including UNAMA. Italy calls for full accountability for violations and abuses. The country is deeply concerned by the increasing restrictions on the rights and freedoms of women and girls and calls on the Taliban to take steps to lift restrictions and eliminate all forms of discrimination. Italy condemns arbitrary and extrajudicial killings and gender-based violence. It reiterates its support for the Afghan people.

Malta aligns itself with the statement made by the EU. Malta is deeply concerned by the situation of women and girls and the increasing restrictions on their freedoms. Their inclusion in public and political life must be part of the solution. Malta calls upon the de facto authorities to create an enabling environment for women to have full and equal participation. Accountability for human rights violations must be ensured. Malta expresses its support for the Special Rapporteur and other UN mechanisms.

Ireland aligns itself with the EU statement. Ireland condemns the Taliban's harassment of and violence against human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists, ethnic and religious minorities, former government employees and LGBTI+ persons. Afghanistan will not receive its potential while the majority of its people are denied their rights. Restrictions on education are unacceptable. The participation of women is vital for Afghanistan's social and economic development. Ireland is gravely concerned about the humanitarian challenges and calls on the Taliban to allow humanitarian operations. Ireland deplores the dissolution of the AIHRC. It asks the High Commissioner to expand on her engagement with the Taliban regarding the Human Rights Commission.

The United Kingdom shares its concerns about human rights challenges in Afghanistan, especially for women, girls and minorities. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are unable to go to secondary school. Educated women and girls can contribute to the development of a country, its peace and stability. The UK supports humanitarian and basic human needs. Serious allegations of intimidations, disappearances and extrajudicial killings should be transparently investigated. The UK encourages the Taliban to work with the international community on counter-terrorism. The UK asks the High Commissioner how the Council can best work with the Special Rapporteur and prioritise her recommendations.

Poland aligns itself with the EU statement. Poland is concerned by the continuous decay of the protection of human rights, in particular of women and girls. The deliberate dismantling of years of progress cannot be reconciled with UNSC Res. 25/93 or other international covenants that Afghanistan is part of. The suppression of fundamental freedoms continues amidst the dire humanitarian situation. Poland calls on the Taliban to cooperate with international bodies and refrain from further human rights violations. Poland underlines the importance of contributions made by international actors in the promotion of the human rights of all people in Afghanistan. Poland supports the work of the High Commissioner, the Special Rapporteur and UNAMA.

Croatia aligns itself with the EU statement. Croatia expresses grave concern regarding the human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially the attacks on persons belonging to minorities, intimidations against civil society, killings of former members of the security forces, and gender-based violence. Croatia strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks, which resulted in the death of civilians. Croatia commends Afghan women for their continued determination to participate in society and calls upon the de facto authorities to reverse policies affecting women and girls. The country regrets the further deterioration of the humanitarian situation and will keep standing by the Afghan people and provide assistance. Croatia expresses its support for the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan.

Austria is concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation, in particular for women and girls. Measures such as the suspension of education, barriers to employment and public life, and advice to stay at home are forms of gender segregation and make the women of Afghanistan invisible. Austria is deeply worried about the situation of women journalists in Afghanistan (84% of female media workers have lost their jobs since last year). The latest directives contravene Afghanistan's obligations under human rights treaties to which it is a state party. Austria calls upon the de facto authorities to reverse policies negatively impacting women.

Iran underlines that the situation aggravated since last August's takeover of the country, which happened two decades after the US initiated the military invasion of Afghanistan and generated more division, violence, corruption, poverty and drug trafficking. The US should bear responsibility for the consequences of its actions. As a neighbouring country, Iran has made efforts to overcome instability and conflict. Iran reiterates the need for an inclusive governance mechanism that respects all Afghan people. Iran has hosted millions of refugees in the last 4 decades.

The United States stands with the Afghan people and condemns the Taliban's abuses of the human rights of women and girls. The US condemns the rising violence that

disproportionately targets minorities, the extrajudicial killings and restrictions on the press. The Taliban's responsiveness to the opposition to the restrictions made by the Afghans will define their relationship with the Taliban in future. The US shares its concerns about the closure of the AIHRC and calls for its reopening.

Albania denounces that the gravity of the attacks and the violations amount to crimes against humanity. The dissolution of the AIHRC and the creation of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice will erase women and girls from public life in Afghanistan. The respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people living in Afghanistan is essential for an inclusive and prosperous country. Albania reiterates its support for the work of the High Commissioner and her office, the Special Rapporteur, other mandate holders and mechanisms.

Indonesia reiterates its support for an Afghan-led peace and remains concerned with the impacts of the situation on all aspects of the life of the people. Indonesia recalls the commitment made by the Taliban to the Afghan people, especially in guaranteeing the fulfilment of girls' and women's right to education. The country commits to continue providing capacity building in Afghanistan to empower women and underlines the need to track progress in implementing all Taliban promises and restore the international community's trust. Indonesia directs the Council's attention to the need to address the humanitarian situation, especially food insecurity and malnutrition. Finally, Indonesia reiterates support for the work of UNAMA.

New Zealand is gravely concerned by the continuous human rights abuses in Afghanistan. The Taliban directives further restrict human rights and, as a result, high school-aged girls are not able to follow their education. It is deplorable that women can leave home only in case of necessity, and accompanied by a man. Women and girls should have the right to pursue education and express their opinions. New Zealand firmly condemns any actions that restrict the fundamental human rights of the people of Afghanistan and calls for the Taliban to respect their commitment to respect human rights. New Zealand asks the High Commissioner what the international community can do to encourage respect for human rights in Afghanistan?

The Czech Republic aligns itself with the EU statement. The Czech Republic is deeply worried about the human rights situation, closely interconnected with the humanitarian situation. The exclusion of women from public and political life, and school, is worrisome. There are some reports of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests of journalists and judges, and exposure of civilians to violations of international law. The Czech Republic calls on the Taliban to deliver on their international promises. Finally, it asks the High Commissioner what are the prospects for the Afghan society to become a place where Afghan people can enjoy freedom and human rights.

The Netherlands aligns itself with the EU statement. The Netherlands is gravely concerned about reports of serious human rights violations, particularly of the rights of women and girls, journalists and other media workers, and reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, mistreatment and arrests. Repressive measures against women and girls are detrimental to the development and future of the country. The Netherlands urges the Taliban to respect the right to education for all students and to reopen schools and supports the work of the UN Special Rapporteur.

Mrs Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, addresses some of the questions by the delegations.

1. Following the dissolution of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, what can be done to support a domestic independent compliance mechanism? This is a setback, as the Commission played a vital role in the human rights movement in Afghanistan. The High Commissioner discussed with the de facto authorities the need to establish an independent mechanism that can receive complaints and bring problems and solutions to the attention of the authorities. The Ministry for the Promotion of Vice and Virtues is not the appropriate body. UNAMA will ensure a strong human rights presence, including monitoring and advocacy. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur will also continue to monitor the human rights situation and take up individual cases.

2. How do we coordinate international efforts to collectively keep the pressure on the Taliban to uphold their human rights obligations? Coordination between all mandates is important. The Security Council has provided UNAMA with a strong mandate on human rights. It will also be able to support other parts of the UN system to incorporate human rights into its program. The Special Rapporteur and independent experts will complement this mandate. The office of the High Commissioner also continues to have an advocacy role and continues to leverage the different mandates to engage with the de facto authorities. Member States must also coordinate their messaging to the de facto authorities, both bilaterally and in intergovernmental bodies. The Human Rights Council and the Security Council have made clear international expectations.

3. What more can be done to advance the rights of women and girls and what are the prospects to reverse the setbacks? The regressions in the rights of women and girls do not only violate human rights; they also pose a threat to the future of Afghanistan. The High Commissioner hopes that those with influence and access to public structure within the Taliban can have them reversed. She highlights the essential role of civil society and the media in protecting the space for women advocates and jurists. The message of the women activists she met in Kabul is that they want to be heard directly by those in power. The international community should give Afghan women a place at every table and support their voices.

4. How to protect the Afghan refugees? The High Commissioner highlights the need to ensure protection for those living in the country, including through resettlement in neighbouring countries. The UNHCR and other partners have long resettled Afghan refugees of different backgrounds on criteria based on the assessment of individual protection, needs and vulnerability. The humanitarian agencies are focusing to protect the most vulnerable and assisting the new displaced Afghans. It is important to support the neighbouring countries too.

5. What are the ways to address impunity? Generations of Afghans have been victims of violations and abuses. Issues of accountability, justice and redress for victims are central to the peace process. The longer-term comprehensive processes with transitional justice will be needed for lasting peace. The ICC continues to pursue its independent investigation of international crimes. The path to a prosperous Afghanistan cannot be paved without the efforts of de facto authorities, the support of the international community and the participation of all parts of society in public and political life. The High Commissioner calls on the Council and the international community to continue giving Afghanistan prominence in the political agenda.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace