UK envoy tells UNSC no relief for Taliban until they revoke their decrees

Addressing the UN Security Council meeting about Afghanistan on Wednesday, Barbara Woodward, UK envoy to the UN, said that while the Taliban continue on its current path, international recognition will not be on the table and sanctions relief and development assistance will not come.

“We recognize that continued engagement, predicated on these fundamentals, is the only way forward. The Secretary-General’s meeting of Special Envoys in Doha was a good first step and we too look forward to the independent review of Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu,” she said.

The UK envoy said that since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, the situation for the people of Afghanistan has been defined by humanitarian suffering, economic hardship, and a relentless assault on human rights.

“The figures speak for themselves: two-thirds of the Afghan population are in humanitarian need in 2023. Economic output has decreased by over 20 per cent since 2021. Over two million girls between years seven and 11 are unable formally to access secondary school education,” she added.

She stated that the Taliban has issued over 50 decrees restricting the rights of women and girls and impeded the UN’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance at a time of dire need.

The trajectory is negative and options are limited. The Afghan people remain our priority – so how can we collectively navigate the months ahead, she asked.

Meanwhile, Vedant Patel, a spokesman for the US State Department, told reporters on Wednesday that the United States continues to have a number of tools at its disposal to hold the Taliban accountable.

“You’ve heard us – heard me say this before as it relates to the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls,” he said. “It is a key piece as it relates to their stated desire for international acceptance and legitimacy, and until they allow half of their population the same rights, benefits, and access as the other half, not only are they holding Afghanistan’s future back, but they also continue to stand in the way of their own desired – desire for international acceptance and legitimacy.”

Many envoys at the UNSC meeting expressed their concerns over the humanitarian and human rights situation in Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to lift bans on women and girls.