UN Says Afghanistan Meeting Not About Recognizing Taliban Leadership

UN Says Afghanistan Meeting Not About Recognizing Taliban Leadership
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks to reporters outside the U.N. Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York City, on April 20, 2023. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
Aldgra Fredly

The United Nations said Thursday that its upcoming meeting in Doha, Qatar, will not focus on the Taliban recognition but on building a “unified consensus” with the international community regarding Afghanistan.

This came after U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the U.N. intended to convene a meeting with envoys from across the region to discuss the potential international recognition of the Taliban ruling.

“What I can say is that the Doha conference on 1 and 2 May is not focusing on recognition, and we don’t want there to be any confusion about that,” Farhan Haq, a deputy spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told reporters.

“The point of the discussion, which will be held in a closed private setting, is to build a more unified consensus on the challenges at hand,” Haq added.

He said the U.N. seeks “to reinvigorate international engagement around the sort of common objectives that the international community has on Afghanistan,” which has been ruled by the Taliban since August 2021 following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

No country has recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government, and the former government of President Ashraf Ghani still holds the country’s U.N. seat. The Taliban had requested to represent Afghanistan, but the U.N. deferred its decision last December.

Taliban fighters stand guard at the site of an explosion near the Interior Ministry, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Jan. 1, 2023. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo)
Taliban fighters stand guard at the site of an explosion near the Interior Ministry, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Jan. 1, 2023. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo)
During an interview at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs on April 18, Mohammed said the U.N. meeting could include talks on “baby steps” towards recognizing the Taliban leadership.

“There are some that believe this can never happen. There are others that say, well, it has to happen,” she said. “The Taliban clearly want recognition. And that’s the leverage we have.”

Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric later clarified that Mohammed “was not in any way implying that anyone else but member states have the authority for recognition” of Afghanistan’s government.

Dujarric said that Mohammed was merely reaffirming the need for a coordinated approach on Afghanistan, “which includes finding common ground on the longer-term vision of the country and sending a unified message to the de facto authorities on the imperative to ensure that women have their rightful place in Afghan society.”

“She has really been on the front lines of fighting for the inalienable rights of women and girls in Afghanistan,” Dujarric told reporters. “She spoke directly, face to face with Taliban leaders on this issue.”

Taliban Recognition ‘Absolutely Absurd’

U.S. senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the senior Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, has criticized Mohammed for her comments and rejected any discussions about recognizing the Taliban administration.
“The U.N. needs a wake-up call. Any talk of recognition of the Taliban is absolutely absurd. This murderous regime continues to deny women the ability to work or go to school while millions of Afghans are in dire humanitarian needs,” Risch said on Twitter.

Hillel Neuer, executive director at the U.N. Watch, said the U.N. granting credentials to the Taliban would result in the “misogynist terrorist group” inheriting Afghanistan’s seat on the U.N. Women’s Rights Commission until 2025.

Earlier this month, the Taliban banned Afghan women from working with the United Nations in Afghanistan, drawing condemnation from the world body. It has also barred Afghan women from attending universities and secondary schools.
U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood has said that the Taliban won’t be a legitimate member of the international community “until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls.”