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U.N. envoy says curbs on women’s rights major obstacle to Taliban recognition

As long as restrictions against women’s rights remain in place in Afghanistan, it will be “nearly impossible” for the international community to recognize the Taliban government, the U.N.’s envoy to the country said Wednesday.

“In my regular discussions with the de facto authorities, I am blunt about the obstacles they have created for themselves by the decrees and restrictions they have enacted, in particular against women and girls,” Roza Otunbayeva, head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, told the Security Council.

“The Taliban ask to be recognized by the United Nations and its members, but at the same time they act against the key values expressed in the United Nations Charter,” she said.

“We have conveyed to them that as long as these decrees are in place it is nearly impossible that their government will be recognized by members of the international community,” Otunbayeva added.

Afghanistan’s Taliban government is not officially recognized by any foreign country or international organization.

Under their austere interpretation of Islam, Taliban authorities have imposed a slew of restrictions on Afghan women since seizing power in 2021, including banning them from higher education and many government jobs.

The increasing curbs are reminiscent of the fist Taliban government between 1996 and 2001, when the U.N. said they were responsible for repeated human rights violations — particularly against girls and women.

In December, they banned Afghan women from working for domestic and foreign non-governmental organizations.

Such measures restricting women’s rights are “highly unpopular among the Afghan population,” she said, costing the Taliban authorities “both domestic and international legitimacy, while inflicting suffering on half of their population and damaging their economy.”

In April, the restriction on women working for foreign NGOs was extended to U.N. offices across Afghanistan.

“We have been given no explanations by the de facto authorities for this ban and no assurances that it will be lifted,” Otunbayeva said.

“We will not put our national female staff in danger, and therefore we are asking them not to report to the office,” she explained, adding that they are also asking non-essential male staff to also stay home to “respect the principle of non-discrimination.”

Afghan Herald

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