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Press Statement on Afghanistan

Joint press statement on Afghanistan by Security Council penholders Norway and Estonia, 9 September 2021.

The situation in Afghanistan remains precarious. Its people are suffering from several overlapping challenges including conflict, COVID, displacement and drought.

It is crucial to ensure that the UN can stay, operate and respond to the needs of the people, in all parts of the country. It is likewise crucial to ensure that aid delivery will not be restricted, in particular by female aid workers to Afghan women and girls.

As co-penholders on Afghanistan in the Security Council, Norway and Estonia have presented a draft resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which expires on the 17th of September. We are consulting broadly with all Council members, as well as relevant UN agencies and civil society organizations.

We believe that UNAMA’s work to facilitate humanitarian access, monitor and report on human rights, strengthen the protection of civilians, including children, and support women’s participation is more important than ever.

Securing the continued support by UNAMA to the people of Afghanistan is our highest priority.

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Our message today is to women and girls in Afghanistan.

Although we have heard Taliban give public statements about upholding women’s rights, we also see an interim government formed with no women.

Courageous Afghan women continue to face extreme uncertainty, including threats of violence.

The Security Council must be crystal clear that there will be no sustainable peace without women being part of a political solution. And in the UNAMA mandate, the ‘Women, Peace and Security’ and human rights components are more important than ever.

Women have a right to participate, at all levels, where decisions are being made about their future. And they have a right to do so safely.

Women in Afghanistan have equal rights to freedom of expression, participation and peaceful protest.

Throughout the past decades, Norway has consistently engaged with the Taliban and various parties, including on women’s rights.

In the time ahead, we will continue to promote access to education at all levels, health services, and the labour market. As well as protection from sexual and gender-based violence; and full, equal, and meaningful participation in political processes.

To the women and girls of Afghanistan:

We will not abandon you.