The Taliban and the United Nations

by Eshaan Kapoor ‘23

Source: The New York Times

Published Oct. 16th, 2021

On September 21st, 2021, the Taliban requested to represent the nation of Afghanistan in the United Nations General Assembly meeting later in the week, hoping to gain global recognition. However, with many of the leaders of the Taliban being on the UN’s watch list, the decision is sure to be uncomfortable.

When the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the UN maintained that the elected government envoy would continue being the UN ambassador, not the Taliban, therefore rejecting the Taliban’s appeal for official recognition.

Now, in the Taliban’s return to power, they are seeking official recognition again. A nine-member Credentials Committee in the UN was supposed to make a decision on who would represent Afghans in future UN meetings, but they were unable to convene on time. As a result, the Taliban did not speak at the General Assembly meeting. Moreover, Ghulam Isaczai, the Afghan envoy backed out without citing a reason, meaning that Afghanistan was not represented at all in the General Assembly meeting.

The UN holds influential power in this situation because it has the ability to utilize the Taliban’s desire for global recognition as a way to compromise better living conditions for Afghans.

Additionally, a main issue concerning Afghans are women’s rights. The Taliban’s current governing body consists only of men, and they have forced many women to stay indoors, leading to protests for more female rights for Afghans.

Women’s education is also a central concern: in the 17 years after 2001, the number of Afghan girls in primary school rose from almost 0 to 2.5 million, but with the Taliban in power again, the future of this progress remains unknown.

Though the Taliban have guaranteed women’s education in their policies, the UN’s general sentiment remains what members agreed on during a security council meeting: “the Taliban will be judged by their actions, not their words.”