Afghanistan’s UN envoy in Geneva calls for global action on women’s rights

GENEVA — At the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Nasir Andisha, Afghanistan’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva delivered a joint statement on behalf of nearly 40 countries, highlighting the critical situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. The statement, coming shortly after International Women’s Day, underscored their remarkable bravery amid severe challenges.

The consensus, which includes the European Union and Tajikistan as the sole regional supporter, demands a unified international effort to address the plight of Afghan women. “The Taliban’s assurances of human rights respect remain unmet,” the envoy stated, pointing out that various Taliban decrees continue to suppress women and girls’ rights.

He referred to findings from the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), suggesting that these acts could constitute gender persecution. The envoy described the situation as a “gender apartheid,” emphasizing the need for complete accountability for the Taliban’s actions.

Asila Ahmadzai, a women’s rights advocate, noted the psychological toll on women, who are barred from employment and education. “Many women are confined to their homes, facing immense mental strain,” Ahmadzai remarked.

The statement calls for vigilant monitoring by human rights bodies and coherent coordination. It also encourages cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor’s Office regarding investigations into these issues. The envoy hailed the Prosecutor’s new policy on gender-based crimes and the emphasis on gender persecution.

Furthermore, the statement urges nations to remind the Taliban of its human rights obligations during any dialogue and to ensure that Afghan stakeholders, especially women, are included in discussions about the country’s future.

“We call on states to back the initiation of negotiations on a Crimes Against Humanity Convention this year, focusing on the critical issue of systematic gender persecution,” the statement concluded, advocating for immediate and proportionate responses to human rights violations in Afghanistan.