Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Afghanistan
Statement29 August 2022
I thank Under Secretary-General Griffiths, Deputy SRSG Potzel and Dr Morgan Edwards for their briefings today.
Two weeks ago we marked one dreadful year since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.
One year on, the Taliban have proved that they have not reformed. They have shown the same unjust and cruel behaviour of the past, using repression and fear.
Fundamental freedoms have been severely curtailed; Afghanistan’s once vibrant civil society and media landscape violently suppressed.
Those who raise their voices in opposition, including women protesters, are met with intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, and enforced disappearance. Human rights defenders, activists, and journalists remain among the most at risk.
The Taliban have sought to render women invisible. They are quite literally being systematically wiped from public life. Banned from most places of work, subject to onerous restrictions on when they can leave their home; Afghan women are living a nightmare.
Despite international condemnation, the Taliban continue their draconian assault on human rights.
The vacuum left by Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, dissolved by the Taliban in May, makes robust international monitoring all the more important. Support for the work of UNAMA’s Human Rights Service and the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan is essential.
The past year has been one of unconscionable hardship for the Afghan people, with economic collapse spurring one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
Over 19 million people remain food insecure, with children suffering the most. Afghanistan now has the highest number of people in emergency food insecurity globally and the health system is on the brink of collapse.
Overwhelming humanitarian need has been compounded by natural disasters, most recently devastating flooding in central and eastern Afghanistan.
We applaud the work of UN agencies and humanitarian organisations on the ground, who have stayed and delivered in the most challenging of circumstances, preventing a spiral into widespread famine.
The preservation of the humanitarian space is an overarching priority for Ireland across the sanctions regimes. In this regard, we, therefore, strongly supported the adoption of resolution twenty-six fifteen in December providing a humanitarian exemption to sanctions imposed under the nineteen eighty eight Taliban sanctions regime.
Such efforts to provide clarity and facilitate the provision of much needed humanitarian aid are essential, and we support the introduction of licenses to further aid delivery.
However, as a result of the Taliban’s policies, dire humanitarian need remains. So, too, does the imperative to find solutions to relieve the effects of economic collapse.
We must also be clear on the solutions that lie within Afghanistan. Economic recovery is impossible while half of Afghanistan’s workforce are confined to their homes, denied economic opportunity. Any future economic growth is impossible without girls graduating from high school.
Last August we sat in this Chamber and insisted that the international community would now have to address the consequences of not heeding the many warnings of Afghan civil society.
Despite repeated reassurances in the weeks following their takeover, the Taliban has shown utter contempt for their commitments made to the Afghan people and international community.
They vowed to respect the rights of women – instead, women have been forcibly and systematically excluded from public life.
They promised that girls would return to school – instead, girls have spent three hundred and forty five days banned from their classrooms
They promised to counter terrorism, and to combat terrorism - instead, we have seen frequent attacks against the Afghan people, particularly minorities, and evidence that Al-Qaida continue to operate with the full knowledge of the Taliban.
The international community, and this Council, cannot stand by in the face of such disregard for international law and the principles which underpin our common commitment to humanity.
We owe it to the Afghan people to listen; to heed their warnings; and to act. Ireland stresses again the importance of including Afghan civil society in this chamber. The international community must demonstrate its solidarity with the Afghan people, holding the Taliban to account.
Last August we shared our view that the Council must be prepared to consider further measures from the toolbox at our disposal.
This includes revisiting broad-based privileges that were granted to the Taliban for the purposes of pursuing peace and security. On the basis of what we have seen to date, we cannot and should not take a ‘business as usual’ approach.