Afghan Women Leaders Ask the U.N. Not to Recognize the Taliban

Activists attend a Freedom for Afghanistan demonstration organized in Rotterdam, Holland, on Sept. 11, 2021. (Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In an open letter to the United Nations leadership, U.N. Security Council and member states, Afghan women last week demanded that the intergovernmental groups stand “firm on their commitment” to not recognizing the Taliban as the official rulers of Afghanistan.

The Taliban took power by force on Aug. 15, 2021, and since their return, they have systematically violated the human rights of Afghan women and girls.

The statement expresses deep “concern” at the statement issued by the United Nations deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, on April 17, in which she suggested that at an U.N.-convened conference in May, envoys for Afghanistan in Doha would be given the opportunity to “find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition” of the Taliban.

In the letter, Afghan women are clear that their rights are not up for negotiations; no unconditional engagement should occur until respect for human rights and women’s rights are guaranteed on paper and in action. Humanitarian aid delivery is impossible without women, and Afghan women must be meaningfully consulted.

Afghan women are clear that their rights are not up for negotiation.

Since the Taliban takeover of the government in Afghanistan, Afghan women have repeatedly advised against any formal recognition or legitimacy to the Taliban.

The idea of recognizing the Taliban as the official representatives of Afghanistan have shocked most Afghan women, who say the Taliban grossly violated international laws (including the U.N. charter), eliminated women from public life, limited access to education and employment for women and girls, and ordered the U.N. that their Afghan women staff members could not continue their jobs at the U.N. offices in Afghanistan.

With the Taliban’s relentless attacks on Afghan women and girls, the Afghan women say any recognition of the Taliban under the current circumstances would “reward a violent group.”

Afghan women leaders remind the deputy secretary general and other U.N. officials that the same U.N. officials have often condemned the Taliban violations against Afghan women and girls and that walking those statements back would “undermine the U.N.’s credibility.” They ask the U.N. not to grant the Taliban a seat at the U.N.

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Makhfi Azizi is the director of the Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She has been working with the foundation in this capacity for two years and works on issues of human rights, peace and security. Makhfi is dedicated to women’s equality, peace and democracy.