UN Security Council set to condemn Taliban crackdown on Afghan women

The UN Security Council is set to vote on Thursday to condemn a ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations in Afghanistan and call upon the Taliban administration to “swiftly reverse” its crackdown on the rights of women and girls.

The resolution to be voted on – drafted by the United Arab Emirates and Japan and seen by Reuters – describes the ban as “unprecedented in the history of the United Nations” and asserts “the indispensable role of women in Afghan society.”

Diplomats said it is expected to be adopted. A resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain, or France to pass.

The draft resolution says the ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations “undermines human rights and humanitarian principles.”

Earlier this month the Taliban began enforcing the ban on Afghan women working for the UN after stopping most women working for humanitarian aid groups in December. Since toppling the Western-backed government in 2021, they have also tightened controls on women’s access to public life, including barring women from university and closing girls’ high schools.

The Taliban says it respects women’s rights in accordance with its strict interpretation of Islamic law. Taliban officials said decisions on female aid workers are an “internal issue.”

The draft Security Council resolution demands all parties allow full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access “regardless of gender” and “stresses the urgent need to continue addressing the dire economic and humanitarian situation.”

It also “recognizes the need to help address the substantial challenges facing Afghanistan’s economy, including through efforts to enable the use of assets belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank for the benefit of the Afghan people.”

The United States froze billions of the bank’s reserves held in the US and later transferred half of the money to a trust fund in Switzerland overseen by US, Swiss, and Afghan trustees.

The draft resolution also stresses “the critical importance” of the United Nations’s continued presence across Afghanistan.

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