Taliban Poised to Inherit Seats on UN Bodies Dealing With Women’s Rights, Cultural Heritage, Narcotics

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(CNSNews.com) – The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan raises the prospect that an entity notorious for violating women’s rights and human rights in general, for targeting heritage and culture which it views as un-Islamic, and for deriving revenue from the opium trade, will inherit seats on U.N. bodies dealing with those very issues.

Under the ousted government of President Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan last fall was handed a four-year term (2021-2025) on the 45-member U.N. Commission on Status of Women, “the world’s leading intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

In November 2019, Afghanistan was elected onto the 58-member executive board of the U.N.’s cultural agency UNESCO for a four-year term (2019-2023).

For the next four months, Afghanistan will see out a four-year term as one of the 53 members of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the U.N.’s “central policy-making body in drug- related issues.”

And just two months ago, Afghanistan was elected to the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the U.N. body that coordinates socio-economic affairs, for a three-year term beginning January 2022.

ECOSOC members wield considerable influence, tasked among other things to fill leadership posts on a range of U.N. agencies, including the Commission on Status of Women and Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

ECOSOC’s NGO Committee is empowered to approve and reject applications by non-governmental organizations for formal accreditation to the U.N., a function that has sometimes been politicized.

(Afghanistan is not currently a member of the 19-seat NGO Committee, but as an ECOSOC member has a say in the composition of the committee.)

As the U.N. considers its response to the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, there has been much talk about protecting civilians and upholding human rights, but little on the specific issue of recognition.

At an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday, the Afghan permanent representative Ghulam Isaczai, who took up the post less than a month ago, urged the council and U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres to make clear that the U.N. would not recognize any government that gained power through force.

Isaczai also urged them to state unequivocally that the U.N. does not support the “restoration of the Islamic Emirate,” as stated in previous council statements, including one issued as recently as August 3.

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