On 17 March, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2626, extending the mandate of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) until 17 March 2023. 14 members voted in favour, with Russia abstaining. At the heart of UNAMA mandate is their coordination role humanitarian response in Afghanistan.
Between 28 February and 5 March 2022, Humaira Rasuli of Women for Justice Afghanistan (WJO) represented Afghan women civil society at meetings with Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Ms. Deborah Lyons, as well as, State Members and their Permanent Missions.
WJO tabled recommendations to UNAMA and the Permanent Missions on thematic areas it considered important to UNAMA's renewed mandate: (a) peace and inclusive governance, (b) civil society consultation, (c) coordination and inclusion, (d) protection of civilians and other persecuted persons, and finally, (e) rule of law and justice. WJO also recommended the following objectives to be centralised in UNAMA's renewed mandate, given the ongoing crises which UNAMA detailed in its report.
(a) advocating for protection of women’s rights, rights of minorities, human rights monitoring, reporting, promoting role of law, and political engagement.
(b) coordination with the international community and donors to promote gender equality, gender responsive aid in engagement with the de facto authorities.
(c) coordination of safe dialogue platform for civil society to directly and safely address the de facto authority on their concerns and proposals on inclusive governance, fundamental human rights and freedoms, security and the realization of full and equal participation in social, economic and political life of Afghanistan.
There were significant divisions amongst Security Council members especially Russia and China on the objective and scope of UNAMA's mandate, especially in relation to human rights, and, women, peace and security. China and Russia argued that UNAMA’s primary focus should be focused on assisting with efforts to address the humanitarian and economic crises in Afghanistan. Afghan civil society persuaded the remaining Security Council members to speak up firmly in the negotiations and support a more comprehensive mandate including the protection of human rights and the promotion of inclusive governance and gender equality. Recognising regional states' political and economic leverage over the Taliban, the Afghan civil society also called on the importance of UN strengthening and building regional coordination towards those ends.
At an all-defining moment on the UN continued role in Afghanistan, we reminded the members of the Security Council that the peace and stability of Afghanistan deeply affects the peace and stability of large parts of the world and that therefore UN's mandate should not be restricted to emergency response but also on the goal of sustaining inclusive peace in Afghanistan.
To this end, we called on a more robust and comprehensive mandate which will safeguard and strengthen the space of Afghan women CSOs to survive, so that they can continue their mission to protect the human rights of people and promote peace and inclusive governance.
"In addition to repression by Taliban, the absolute loss of international support and funding is a major cause for the total shutdown of many Afghan CSOs. In such a context, an integral part of UNAMA’s new mandate should be to protect and promote the work of Afghan CSO who are and will remain the gatekeepers of human rights." Humaira Rasuli, Executive Director, WJO
We recommended enhanced access and cooperation with civil society organisations and information sharing between civil society, UNAMA, regional and international stakeholders including countries which have influence over the Taliban. Part of this would have encompass establishing a safe platform between the civil society and the defacto authorities to directly address issues concerning the rule of law, access to justice, inclusive governance, fundamental human rights and freedoms, security and full and equal participation of people in social, economic and political life.
WJO's recommendations were included in the final recommendations by the Afghanistan Women's Network and shared with the UN Security Council.