UN says Taliban not invited to Doha meeting on Afghanistan

FILE PHOTO: U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres attends a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) at the U.S. State Department in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2023. Source: Reuters

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has not invited the Taliban administration to a meeting that he is convening with special envoys on Afghanistan from various countries in Doha next week, a UN spokesperson said on Friday as quoted by Reuters.

“The Secretary-General has not extended an invitation to the de facto authorities,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

After remarks by UN deputy chief, the United Nations last week had to stress that the meeting will not focus on the possible international recognition of the Taliban administration after comments by the deputy UN chief sparked concern and confusion.

The gathering in Qatar on Monday and Tuesday is instead intended to focus on reinvigorating “the international engagement around common objectives for a durable way forward on Afghanistan,” Dujarric has said as quoted by Reuters.

UN deputy chief Amina Mohammed suggested last week that the meeting in Doha “could find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition.” Her remarks triggered widespread reactions in Afghanistan and abroad.

The UN Security Council on Thursday condemned the Taliban’s decision to ban women nationals from working for the United Nations, calling for Taliban leaders to “swiftly reverse” their decision.

The resolution passed unanimously by the 15-member body in New York, calls for the “full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women and girls in Afghanistan” and urges all countries and organizations with influence on the fundamentalist rulers of the country, “to promote an urgent reversal” of policies which have in effect erased women from public life.

Since the Taliban takeover of August 2021, when its forces toppled the democratically-elected government, it has rolled back a wide range of human rights of women and girls, including a ban on attending high school and university, restrictions on movement and work, and in December, a decree banning female nationals from working from most NGOs, the UN said in a statement.

Earlier this month the Taliban extended their ban to women working for the United Nations.

The UN underlined its “unequivocal condemnation” of the move in early April, noting that it contravenes international law, including the UN Charter. All UN staff have been told not to report to the office, except for some critical tasks, while an operational review is carried out, concluding on 5 May.

Taliban reacted to the UNSC resolution and said the ban on women workers at the United Nations offices in Afghanistan is “an internal matter” for the country and that “it does not impact other countries.”