Deborah Lyons, UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said despite a crisis of trust both within the country and abroad, three months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, it is taking halting steps to pursue international legitimacy.
“Ultimately, the Taliban must decide on whether to govern according to the needs and rights of the diverse Afghan population, or whether to rule on the basis of a narrow ideology and even narrower ethnic base”, she stated.
Outlining her team’s early interactions with the de facto Taliban administration, the Special Representative said engagements have been generally useful and constructive.
The de facto authorities have indicated that they want a UN presence and value its assistance.
They continue to seek international recognition as well as ways to overcome the trust deficit that they recognize exists between them and the international community.
The Taliban continue to provide security to UN staff and allow broad humanitarian access, including for women humanitarian workers, allowing access to parts of the country that had not been visited for 15 years.
“Be assured that we have not shied away from raising difficult issues with the Taliban, particularly on women’s rights, girls’ education and on reports … of harassment and extra-judicial killings”, underscored the UN official.
Lyons said that in general, the Taliban have recognized the international community’s concerns – often acknowledging mistakes and trying to address them.
However, they also make clear that for now there are limits to the concessions they are willing to make on certain issues, including those relating to the rights and freedoms of women.
While the de facto authorities had initially assured the global community that they would protect women’s rights within Islamic law – including the right to education – there has nevertheless been a general curtailment of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
From a woman’s right to work to their absence from major decision-making fora and senior echelons of the civil service, their limitations have become obvious.
And the Taliban authorities have indicated that they are working on a nationwide policy to govern girls’ right to education.