UN nears final preparations for Doha meeting on Afghanistan

UN-hosted meeting on Afghanistan in Doha in May 2022. File Photo.

NEW YORK — Preparations for the upcoming Doha meeting on Afghanistan are nearing completion, United Nations sources told Amu.

Scheduled for Feb. 18-19 and chaired by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the meeting will focus on human rights, engagement with the international community, a review of the UN’s independent assessment of Afghanistan, and facilitating intra-Afghan dialogues.

After the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan has faced various crises, including the Taliban’s repressive measures against women’s rights to education, work, and public movement. The country is also grappling with a fragile economy, with over half its population needing humanitarian aid, according to the UN.

Kabul residents hope the Doha meeting will lead to an inclusive government that upholds human rights, including those of women and girls, and provides job opportunities. “We hope for an inclusive government offering jobs for both men and women,” said a Kabul resident, expressing concerns about economic hardships and the closure of girls’ schools and universities.

Another resident urged meeting participants to focus on forming an inclusive government and providing education and work opportunities for women and girls.

Though invited, the Taliban have not confirmed their attendance. Taliban Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs Abdul Kabir stated the meeting aims to foster Taliban engagement with the world.

UN Special Coordinator Feridun Sinirlioğlu recently visited Kabul to discuss the meeting with Taliban officials as well as a number of political figures from Afghanistan. EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tomass Niklasson, also in Kabul, emphasized that the conference does not entail recognizing the Taliban.

Women’s rights activists, like Sanam Kabiri, anticipate the meeting will prioritize human rights, particularly for women and girls. “I hope for positive outcomes focused on human rights and women’s and girls’ rights,” Kabiri said.

Amid global attention on conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, the Doha summit is viewed as a crucial opportunity to address Afghanistan’s challenges.