Home News Taliban holds talks with UN despite concerns about excluding women

Taliban holds talks with UN despite concerns about excluding women


Taliban officials attended a rare UN-led meeting of global envoys to Afghanistan on Sunday, the first time Taliban representatives have agreed to attend such a gathering after organizers said Afghan women would be excluded from the talks.

The two-day conference, held in Doha, Qatar, is the third of its kind. It is part of the UN-led “Doha Process” launched in May 2023. The process aims to develop a unified international approach to Afghanistan. Envoys from about 25 countries and regional organizations, including the European Union, the United States, Russia and China, will attend the meeting.

Taliban officials were not invited to the first meeting. Refuse to participate The committee held its second meeting in February following opposition from Afghan civil society groups to attend the meeting.

The meeting has drawn strong opposition in recent days after UN officials announced that Afghan women would not attend the talks with Taliban officials. Human rights organizations and Afghan women’s groups strongly condemned the UN’s decision to exclude Afghan women from the talks, arguing that it was an excessive concession made by the UN to convince the Taliban to participate in the talks.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnès Callamard said the decision to exclude women “sets a deeply damaging precedent” and risks “legitimizing its system of gender-based oppression.” In a statement “The international community must take a clear and consistent position: the rights of Afghan women and girls are non-negotiable.”

Since seizing power from the U.S.-backed government in 2021, Taliban authorities have systematically stripped women of their rights and effectively erased them from public life. Women and girls are barred from education beyond primary school, banned from most jobs outside of education and health care, and cannot travel long distances without a male guardian.

Human rights observers have described government policies as akin to “gender apartheid” and have argued that the systematic oppression of women and girls may amount to crimes against humanity.

UN officials defended the decision to exclude Afghan women from the talks this week, insisting that women’s rights would be raised in discussions with the Taliban. They also said they would meet with Afghan civil society representatives before and after the talks with Taliban officials.

“Issues of inclusive governance, women’s rights, human rights will be part of every single one of these sessions,” Rosemary DiCarlo, the U.N.’s political affairs chief who is chairing the meeting, said at a news conference on Thursday.

Many Afghan women have also called on Afghan activists invited to the Doha talks to boycott the talks in protest.

Afghan female activist Rokhshana Rezai said the meeting represented an effort by the international community to “normalize the Taliban.” Posted in X. “I ask all those who believe in freedom and humanity to boycott this conference, because it is not in the interest of the Afghan people nor in the interest of Afghan women.”

The controversy surrounding the meeting highlights tensions within the West over how to deal with Afghanistan’s new government.

Some groups are trying to isolate the Taliban through sanctions and other means to persuade them to change their most controversial policies on women. Others are trying to engage with the new government, hoping to change Afghan policies and make the new government more acceptable to the West by promoting more dialogue.

Officials seeking to engage with the Taliban want to focus on key issues such as counterterrorism, as the terrorist group’s presence They also said that without more dialogue, Afghanistan might become more closely allied with Russia and China, both of which have been willing to overlook the Taliban’s human rights record when engaging with the government.

United Nations officials stressed last week that the meeting with Taliban officials did not represent a step toward formally recognizing the group as Afghanistan’s legitimate ruler, a position no country has recognized so far.

Taliban chief spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who led the delegation, told a news conference on Saturday that the Taliban government wanted to discuss economic issues and international sanctions affecting Afghanistan.

He said the Taliban authorities “recognize women’s issues.” “But these are Afghan issues,” he added, suggesting that the Afghan government does not believe the international community should be involved in shaping its domestic policies on women’s rights.

Najim Rahim I contributed to the San Francisco coverage.

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