Allow me to first express our condolences to those affected by the devastating earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan yesterday. This catastrophe adds even more suffering to civilians already hit hard by a humanitarian, economic and human rights crisis. Safe and unhindered humanitarian access must be ensured.
I would also like to thank USG DiCarlo, USG Griffiths and DSRSG/acting SRSG Alakbarov for their useful updates on the situation in Afghanistan; the work of UNAMA in accordance with its new mandate, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance and support to basic human needs.
A heartfelt thanks also to Yalda Royan for her strong messages, including on the importance of respect for the universal human rights of Afghan women and girls. And to Yalda Hakim for sharing her insights and perspectives.
Since the last regular meeting on Afghanistan in March, this Council has convened two extraordinary meetings to discuss the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in Afghanistan - especially the detrimental decisions taken by the Taliban to restrict girls’ education and women’s participation in public life.
In a united voice, this Council called on the Taliban to swiftly reverse these policies and practises, including the restrictions that limit access to education, employment, and freedom of movement for women and girls.
These restrictions not only demolish Afghanistan’s chances to respond to, and recover from, a difficult humanitarian and economic situation, but they also diminish hope for stability and peace in Afghanistan.
When this Council today discusses how the international community can ensure delivery of humanitarian assistance and support to basic human needs in Afghanistan, we must also urge the Taliban to do more to respond to the humanitarian crisis and do less to create a human rights crisis.
Norway welcomes the recent visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Afghanistan.
We echo his concern regarding reported attacks, killings and disappearances of former government officials; members of the security forces; prosecutors and judges; journalists and media workers, and others who speak up against a society ruled by fear, not law.
It is the responsibility of the de facto authorities to end all arbitrary arrests and detentions - including incommunicado detentions - as well as torture and extra-judicial executions.
We also urge the de facto authorities to initiate investigations of disappearances - including that of Alia Azizi, the Head of Herat Women’s Prison, who disappeared in October.
The protection of civilians and human dignity is a prerequisite for reconciliation and peace.
Norway is alarmed by the escalated violence in certain areas of Afghanistan, and the frequent terrorist attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure - often in ethnic or religious minority communities.
We also call on all parties to end, and prevent, the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. And we underline the importance of UNAMA’s mandate to monitor, report, and to engage with parties to undertake commitments and measures to end and prevent violations and abuses against children.
This Council has given UNAMA a clear mandate to engage with all relevant Afghan political actors and stakeholders – including the Taliban – to facilitate inclusive dialogue and promote representative governance.
The international community must continue to support Afghanistan. This means that we must also engage with the de facto authorities, who bears the main responsibility to respond to the needs of the Afghan people, and to deliver on their promises.
Otherwise, we will lose our most important avenues for influencing the current, worrying, trajectory of Afghanistan’s future.