The United Nations General Assembly has approved postponing its decision on whether Myanmar’s military government and Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders can send ambassadors to the UN in New York, with the assembly also deferring its decision on rival claims to Libya’s UN seat.
The 193-member General Assembly approved by consensus a recommendation by its Credentials Committee to delay the vote on the matters on Friday.
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The postponement means the current envoys of Myanmar, Afghanistan and Libya remain in place.
“The committee decided to postpone its consideration of the credentials pertaining to the representatives of Myanmar, Afghanistan and of Libya,” said Guyana’s UN ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, who chairs the credentials committee.
The vote could now be postponed to a future date in the ongoing 77th session of the General Assembly, which expires in September 2023.
UN acceptance of ambassadors from Myanmar’s military government, the Taliban in Kabul, and Libya’s eastern-backed government would act as the first step towards their official recognition on the global stage.
Myanmar’s military rulers have been attempting to fill the country’s UN seat since the country’s democratically elected leader Aung Suu Kyi was removed from power and later imprisoned following a military coup last year.
The General Assembly’s decision will keep Kyaw Moe Tun, a diplomat of Aung San Suu Kyi’s former government, in his seat.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to 26 years in prison on corruption charges in what is seen as a politically orchestrated trial overseen by the military.
Chris Gunness, director for the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP), called the decision on Friday an “important move which has great diplomatic and symbolic significance, at a time when the illegal coup leaders are attempting to gain international recognition”.
Afghanistan’s seat will continue to be held by officials under the nation’s former government of President Ashraf Ghani, who was removed by the Taliban in 2021 after United States and NATO forces withdrew from the country.
The Taliban had pledged to uphold the rights of girls and women when it seized power, however, authorities in Kabul have instead banned secondary education for girls and put restrictions on work and dress codes for women.
The Taliban have also recently overseen Myanmar’s first public execution since their return to power.
Libya’s UN ambassador, Taher El Sonni, is also expected to stay on in his current capacity as envoy for the western Tripoli-based Libyan government. The oil-rich country has been in turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, which ended with the killing of the country’s longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya was again engulfed in a political crisis in 2021 after it neglected to hold a long-anticipated election, splitting the country into two rival factions – in the country’s east and west. A transitional Tripoli government later rejected calls to resign and the country’s eastern-based leadership ultimately appointed a rival prime minister who had intended to take over the UN seat.