UNSC renews mandate of UN mission in Afghanistan, bolstering its priorities

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 17 (APP): The UN Security Council on Thursday renewed the mandate of its mission in Afghanistan, which is ruled by the Taliban.
The one-year extension of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) received 14 votes from the 15-member body. Russia abstained.
In light of the rapidly evolving situation on the ground, the mission with now focus on coordinating the provision of humanitarian assistance, providing outreach and good offices for dialogue, and promoting good governance and the rule of law.
Other highlighted tasks included promoting human rights, supporting and promoting gender equality and monitoring, reporting and advocating with regard to the situation for civilians.
Through the text, members also called on Afghan political actors and stakeholders – including relevant authorities as needed – to coordinate with UNAMA in implementing its mandate and ensuring the safety, security and freedom of staff movements.
Following the adoption, Norway Ambassador Mona Juul, “penholder” of the resolution, said the text sends “a clear message” that the Council stands firmly behind the Afghan people at a time of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty.
She added the resolution asks UNAMA to engage with all Afghan actors, including the Taliban, on matters relevant to the country’s people.
It also strengthens the Mission’s activities in promoting women’s rights and their participation in public life.
UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward said the Council “spoke with one voice” in support of UNAMA and its crucial role.
However, raising concern over the actions of Afghanistan’s de facto Taliban authorities, she cited reports of reprisals against former Government officials and attacks and intimidation against members of minority groups and civil society.
“The Taliban need to demonstrate that extremist groups are no longer able to flourish in the country,” she said, expressing regret that one Council member decided to abstain in today’s vote, just when the country’s people most need support.
Explaining his country’s position, Russian Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia said that he was compelled to abstain as attempts to secure consent from the host country for a UN presence were ignored.
Warning against continuing down the path of “stubborn ignorance” and the pursuit of irrelevant approaches, he stressed that more support from the de facto authorities would help UNAMA achieve its mandate and avoid turning it into a “UN mission impossible.”
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said that since the events of last August, Afghanistan has entered a new phase of peaceful reconstruction.
He upheld economic recovery as the most urgent task facing the country now, stressing that it should be a top priority for UNAMA.
Moreover, the global community should adhere to Afghan-led and Afghan-owned principles, combat terrorism in all its forms and restore economic development.
“We still have many doubts as to whether the tasks laid out in this mandate are appropriate,” he said, noting that the situation is still rapidly evolving and calling for the flexibility needed to make mandate changes at any time.