US senator introduces bill to withhold UN funding for Afghanistan

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has introduced legislation aimed at the United Nations that would withhold American financial support for Afghanistan until assurances are made that the funds are not benefiting the Taliban or other terrorist groups.

The legislation, named the Stop Funding Global Terrorists Act of 2024, proposes halting “any voluntary or assessed contributions” by the U.S. to the UN for Afghanistan. It requires the Secretary of State to certify to the House and Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees that the aid is not being diverted to the Taliban for the funding to resume.

“American taxpayer dollars should not benefit terrorist organizations, like the Taliban. Unfortunately, we are seeing this scenario play out today, in real time. Until we can be sure, we should withhold contributions to the UN,” Rubio was quoted saying by Fox News.

The bill would also mandate the Secretary of State to ensure U.S. funds do not support cash shipments to Afghanistan or benefit any entity designated as a global terrorist organization.

U.S. government watchdog reports last year, monitoring aid to Afghanistan after the American military withdrawal, indicated the Taliban’s infiltration into charities and other groups to divert funds for their gain. A report by the U.S. Institute of Peace, commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development, found the Taliban influencing “most UN-managed assistance programming.”

Aid to Afghanistan has emerged as a bipartisan concern post the U.S. military exit in 2021. In May 2023, bipartisan House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders addressed a letter to the UN Secretary-General, challenging a Taliban decree preventing women from working with NGOs or the UN and condemning male-only humanitarian aid.

The support Rubio’s bill will receive remains uncertain, as it seeks to pause U.S. assistance to Afghanistan through the UN if it benefits the Taliban, potentially affecting civilian access to aid.