Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Afghanistan

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Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
March 8, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President. Special Representative Otunbayeva, thank you for your briefing. I also wish to thank Ms. Akbar for her briefing.

Thank you to UNAMA for its work to advance the Security Council’s goal of a stable, prosperous, and secure Afghanistan. The United States fully supports UNAMA and its mission. We welcome the Secretary-General’s recommendations on strategic objectives and priorities for UNAMA.

Today is International Women’s Day, a day when the United States and countries around the world honor the achievements and valor of women and girls everywhere. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we must also highlight the immense barriers women and girls face.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue restricting women and girls from exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Regrettably, in late December, the Taliban announced an edict restricting women from working for national and international NGOs. Also in late December, the Taliban suspended women from attending public and private universities, on top of an existing ban on girls attending secondary school.

These obstacles add to the numerous edicts and restrictions the Taliban have disproportionally placed on women and girls since August 2021. By preventing women from working for NGOs, including humanitarian organizations, the Taliban are jeopardizing the lives of Afghans who depend on aid that many women deliver. This aid is a matter of survival, particularly for women-headed households that are already among the most vulnerable.

Mr. President, UNAMA’s mandate will soon expire. The United States underscores our strong support for UNAMA’s comprehensive mandate, including its vital work on human rights, child and civilian protection, and women’s empowerment. UNAMA is critical to working toward the peace and stability that we all agree is so important for Afghanistan and the world. The Council must act to preserve UNAMA as a lifeline for the people of Afghanistan.

The United States opposes – repeat, opposes – any effort to interfere with a simple technical extension. Such interference is unwarranted. It would negatively affect both UNAMA and the Secretary-General’s plan to convene Afghanistan special envoys. The Council should preserve UNAMA’s mandate through a simple technical extension without delay. We have only days left.

More broadly, the Taliban’s grave restrictions demand a strong response from Afghanistan’s neighbors and the rest of the international community. We cannot sit silently and watch the Taliban erase women from public life.

When the Deputy Secretary-General traveled to Afghanistan this year, she noted broad unity among regional states that edicts restricting women’s education and employment should be repealed. The United States supports regional efforts to enshrine that unity in the form of a General Assembly resolution.

The United States will continue to do its part to support the people of Afghanistan. We continue to expect that the Taliban allow unhindered humanitarian access for aid workers of all genders, safe conditions for humanitarian personnel, and independent and impartial provision of assistance.

The United States urges the Taliban to establish a credible process to support representative governance that fully reflects Afghanistan’s rich diversity, including full, equal, and meaningful representation of women and minority communities.

We stand firm in our longstanding commitment to advancing gender equity and equality and the empowerment of women and girls everywhere.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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