SC: Arria on Afghanistan

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Trine Heimerback in the Security Council Arria-Formula meeting on Afghanistan, 17 November 2022.

I thank the Russian Federation for raising an important topic in this format. And I also thank the briefers for their valuable updates, underlining the urgent needs for the Afghan people today.

After the Taliban takeover in August 2021, the situation in Afghanistan remains complex and dire. The Afghan people deserves that we, the international community and the Security Council, stand together in searching for solutions to the difficult challenges they are facing.

And since the Taliban took power by force in Afghanistan, Norway’s message has been clear: “The Taliban will be judged not by their words, but by their actions”. And so far, we have been deeply disappointed.

It is impossible to talk about prospects for development in Afghanistan, without starting with the role of women and girls and Taliban's path of excluding 50% of the population from participating in society and economic life. Upholding the rights of women and girls is fundamental to build a peaceful, stable, resilient, and self-reliant country and economy.

Education is key. And in order to work and contribute to society, girls and boys must have equal education opportunities.

When taking power, the Taliban became responsible for the security and welfare of the Afghan people. And they have not delivered. Earthquakes, drought, floodings, food insecurity and lack of access to basic services are adding to their plight. And winter is quickly approaching, as we have heard today. More than half of Afghans rely on humanitarian assistance and protection.

And the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation is disproportionality affecting women and girls. So while humanitarian assistance is urgently needed it is not enough. We also need to support basic services for the Afghan people and the livelihoods of local communities. And we need to establish sustainable ways to secure financial transactions in and out of the country.

Since the Taliban takeover, the entire UN system has been clear in its determination to stay and deliver for the Afghan people. In the absence of a recognized partner government in Kabul, the UN gets an even more important role. And UNAMA has a robust mandate to play a constructive political role, protect and promote human rights and coordinate and facilitate humanitarian assistance and support.

As penholder on Afghanistan in the Council, Norway has also been steadfast in our approach: The UN and the international community must continue to support the Afghan people – and to do so we must engage with the de facto authorities. Non-engagement, isolation or total collapse is neither in the interest of the Afghan people nor the international community. We must be realistic about the dialogue and what it can achieve, but without engagement, we lose our ability to influence. And the engagement does not imply recognition.

With greater instability, there is also the great risk that Afghanistan once again become a safe haven for terrorist groups. We are already deeply concerned by the terrorist threat within Afghanistan. Attacks against civilians, including children, and civilian infrastructure, including diplomatic premises, continue and have a detrimental impact on Afghanistan’s ability to stabilise and recover.

More than ever it is important that the international community stand together in our support to the people of Afghanistan. They deserve sustainable peace and economic development. But this will not be possible with a path of more oppression and exclusion. Leaders who oppress half of the country’s population will never gain legitimacy.

The primary responsibility for responding to the crisis lies with those that rule. The Taliban must listen to the appeals of the Afghan people and the international community and make decisions serving their own population. True legitimacy must come from within, from the Afghans. And they have our unwavering support.