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WRC statement on UN Security Council vote on UNAMA mandate

New York, NY – The UN Security Council this morning voted in support of a resolution to renew the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The resolution was adopted with 14 members voting in favor and one abstention by the Russian Federation. UNAMA was first established in 2002 to support the implementation of the Bonn Agreement on the governance of Afghanistan. Over the past months, Afghan women’s civil society invited to brief the Council had emphasized the need to maintain a robust human rights mandate.

In reaction to the vote, Stephanie Johanssen, the Women’s Refugee Commission’s (WRC) UN representative, issued the following statement:

“We are relieved to see that the resolution maintains UNAMA’s mandate on ensuring women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation, as well as reporting on the human rights situation, including the rights of women and girls. We express our gratitude to those UN Security Council members, including Norway as the penholder of the resolution, who fought against attempts to regress language.

“The critical importance of UNAMA’s role to promote and report on human rights cannot be overstated. As Mariam Safi, an Afghan-Canadian researcher and woman peacebuilder, told the Security Council earlier this month: ‘The Taliban are willing to silence those who criticize them. You as the international community must therefore be clear that you are watching. This is why it is essential for UNAMA to have a robust mandate to monitor and report on human rights and to support the implementation of Afghanistan’s international obligations.’

“Sadly, however, today is no reason to celebrate. Reports of gender-based violence, discrimination, arbitrary arrests, and torture, in particular against women human rights defenders, continue to surface. Just this week, the UN reported that Afghans are facing a food insecurity and malnutrition crisis of ‘unparalleled proportions,’ with a staggering 95 percent of the population not eating enough food, with that percentage rising to almost 100 percent for female-headed households.

“We urge governments and UNAMA to work with Afghan civil society – and in their engagement with the Taliban – to insist on clear benchmarks on human rights, particularly women’s rights, freedom of movement, inclusive governance, and the right to a quality education that is non-discriminatory.

“Decisions on the future of Afghanistan, including over financial resources, must be made by Afghans themselves, with equal representation of women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, persons with disabilities, and different religious and ethnic groups. Afghanistan’s diverse civil society must be provided the resources and a safe and enabling environment to work toward sustainable peace, human rights, and inclusion.”