The United Nations Security Council has unanimously agreed to renew the world body’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another six months – a temporary extension given the uncertainty in the country since the Taliban takeover last month.
The 15-member council asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report by January 31, 2022 “on strategic and operational recommendations for the mandate of UNAMA, in light of recent political, security and social developments”.
The document, which was drafted by Estonia and Norway, stressed “the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government” and called for “full, equal and meaningful participation of women, and upholding human rights, including for women, children and minorities”.
Afghanistan’s new rulers, however, have formed an interim government made up only of Taliban members and associates and no women.
In August, a council resolution calling for freedom of movement for Afghans wishing to leave the country after the Taliban takeover won 13 votes, as Russia and China abstained.
The text approved on Friday said the UN would continue to play an “important role” in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said parts of the mission, such as humanitarian assistance, are likely to be “greatly increased”.
“[There are] real worries about the state of the economy, the not properly functioning banking system – the idea that literally thousands, maybe millions of people will start a slow and steady exodus from Afghanistan,” he said.
“That’s why the UN Security Council has not done what it normally does – which is extend this mission just as it is every year for another year. They’ve decided they need to look at the shape of this and how it’s going to work, and that’s why they’ve agreed to a six-month extension for now,” Bays added.
Diplomats said the Taliban did not object to the UN mandate being renewed.
“They are obliged to be more flexible,” an Afghanistan specialist at the UN said.
“The Taliban need the UN and this is our leverage” to have an influence on their decision making, the specialist told AFP news agency.
In recent weeks, several NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have pressed for the UN and its 2,000 staffers in Afghanistan to stay in place to report on human rights abuses.
“There’s little evidence to suggest the Taliban will comply with international human rights law, especially the rights of women and girls,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, welcoming the mission extension.
“UNAMA will need to regularly and publicly report on abuses, while helping meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.”