The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday accusing the Taliban of violating the human rights of Afghan women and girls, failing to establish a representative government, and plunging the country into “dire economic, humanitarian and social conditions.” The resolution also pointed to persistent violence in the country since the Taliban takeover 15 months ago and the presence of terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State and their affiliates as well as the presence of “foreign terrorist fighters.” Germany’s U.N. ambassador, Antje Leendertse, had hoped the 193-member General Assembly would approve the German-facilitated resolution by consensus.
But a vote was requested and it was adopted 116-0, with 10 countries abstaining — Russia, China, Belarus, Burundi, North Korea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Nicaragua, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Sixty-seven countries did not vote.
General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, unlike Security Council resolutions, but they do reflect world opinion.
The adoption came the same day that the Taliban, which already banned girls from middle school and high school, prohibited women from using gyms and parks.
Before the vote, Leendertse told the assembly that since the Taliban came to power in August 2021 Afghanistan has seen “a massive economic contraction and humanitarian crisis” which has left half the population facing “critical levels of food insecurity.” “We expect a harsh winter and levels of needs that we have not seen in the last decades with little prospect for economic recovery and reduction of poverty,” she warned.
Introducing the resolution, Leendertse told the assembly that the Taliban control the country but aren’t living up to their responsibility toward meeting the needs of the Afghan people.
“The resolution is a clear call to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, develop inclusive governance and fight terrorism,” she said. “It contains a clear message that without that, there cannot be business as usual and no pathway toward recognition.” The resolution pledges continued U.N. support for the Afghan people “in order to rebuild a stable, secure and economically self-sufficient state, free of terrorism, narcotics, transnational organized crime, including trafficking in persons, and corruption, and to strengthen the foundations of a constitutional democracy as a responsible member of the international community.” It calls for improved access for aid workers and recognizes the need to help address Afghanistan’s economic challenges, including efforts to restore the banking and financial systems and enabling Central Bank assets — held mainly in the United States — to be used to help the Afghan people.
The resolution expresses deep concern at human rights abuses against women and girls, including sexual violence, and calls on the Taliban to promote “full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women in all aspects of Afghan society.” It condemns all attacks, reprisals and violence against journalists and media workers and calls for their perpetrators to be brought to justice.
The resolution reaffirms the assembly’s expectation that the Taliban will live up to its commitments to allow the safe departure of all Afghans and foreign nationals that want to leave the country.