UN special rapporteur Bennett discusses Afghanistan in Norway

OSLO, Norway — The UN Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, discussed issues facing Afghanistan, including the rights of women and girls, during meetings in Norway this week, he announced on Wednesday.

Bennett participated in a two-day event hosted by the Human Rights Research League and engaged in discussions facilitated by Civita Norway. “I was inspired again by Afghan women activists,” Bennett stated in a post on the social media platform X.

The Human Rights Research League highlighted on X that Bennett’s discussions covered topics such as accountability for rights abuses and the environmental impacts of war on children and future generations.

Key issues discussed between Bennett and Afghan civil society members included the need for effective humanitarian financial assistance, increasing safety for at-risk Afghan citizens, and the upcoming Doha meeting. Additional topics were the anticipated UN special rapporteur’s report on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, the impact of war on children and future generations, and recommendations to prevent normalization with the Taliban without significant reforms.

The event, titled “Afghanistan Future Thought Forum (AFTF)” and facilitated by Fatima Gailani, former head of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, drew criticism from human and women’s rights activists.

Outside the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, some women activists protested efforts to normalize relations with the Taliban. “I have heard that the Taliban are here [in Norway]. So, let’s unite and say no to the Taliban, say no to Talibanism,” said Meena Rafiq, a human rights defender. “This is deeply disrespectful to the people of Afghanistan, especially Afghan women and children. We must now stand united against any form of terror and apartheid in Afghanistan,” she added.

Concerns were also raised about the invitation of the Taliban’s delegation to Norway, particularly about the worsening conditions for girls and women under Taliban rule.

The U.S. Department of State has stated that there will be no normalization with the Taliban unless it takes steps to respect human rights in the country.