The Security Council decided today to extend until 17 March 2022 the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), as defined in its resolution 2543 (2020), and reiterated its full support to the work of the Mission and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative as the Taliban establishes their rule across the country.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2596 (2021) (to be issued as document S/RES/2596 (2021)), the Council stressed the critical importance of a continued presence of UNAMA and other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes across Afghanistan. It called upon all Afghan and international parties to coordinate with UNAMA in the implementation of its mandate and to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel throughout the country.
It went on to request the Secretary‑General to submit a written report to the Council by 31 January on strategic and operational recommendations for UNAMA’s mandate “in light of recent political, security and social developments”, and to brief the Council on the situation in Afghanistan and UNAMA’s work every other month until 17 March 2022.
The representative of Norway, speaking also on behalf of Estonia, said that through today’s resolution, the Council is sending a unified message that it stands behind the United Nations efforts in Afghanistan going forward. It ensures that the Mission’s broad and flexible mandate can continue in such areas as human rights, protection of civilians, violations and abuses against children, humanitarian access, and the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all levels of decision‑making. The situation on the ground is fluid, but it makes these tasks more important than ever. “We, the international community, must be there for the people of Afghanistan in every way that we can, not only in words, but also in actions,” she said.
The representative of the United States said that by extending UNAMA’s mandate, the Council is demonstrating its commitment to the Organization’s vital role in supporting the Afghan people. She expressed deep concern about the safety and security of UNAMA’s national staff, emphasizing that the United Nations must protect them and their families. Going forward, the United Nations role must always be to serve the Afghan people and advance their human rights and fundamental freedoms, she said.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that there are positive signs that the Afghan authorities are willing to interact with the United Nations and to ensure the security of its staff. It is regrettable, however, that due to the positions of some Council members, the final version of today’s resolution failed to take into account the threats posed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the long‑standing drugs problem. Downplaying these threats is unacceptable, she said, adding that her country expects them to be objectively reflected in the Secretary‑General’s next report to the Council in January 2022.
The representative of Mexico said the circumstances faced by the civilian population in Afghanistan today require the United Nations decisive support “perhaps more than ever before”. Strict respect for international law, and especially the protection of civilians, is paramount. Mexico insisted that language to that effect be included in today’s resolution and is therefore surprised to see it omitted. Going forward, he emphasized that the Secretary‑General’s reports should include thorough analyses of the situation of women and girls in the country.
The representative of the United Kingdom said that, by adopting today’s text, the Council is sending a strong message as Afghanistan enters an extremely challenging period “that requires the international community to speak in a clear and unified voice”. Welcoming the Taliban’s recent assurances of humanitarian access and expressing hope that they will live up to them - as well as to counter‑terrorism commitments made recently in Doha - she said today’s resolution reiterates the goals of resolution 2593 (2021), namely emphasizing that Afghanistan must never again be used as a haven for terrorism. It also underlines the Council’s expectation that the Taliban must respect human rights and the rights of women. Expressing concern that members of that group have engaged in reprisals against United Nations staff, she called on them to respect the rules of international law and the neutrality of all United Nations personnel.
The representative of China said that, while the war in Afghanistan has ended, problems - caused by power politics, military interference and “so‑called reconstruction” - persist. The hasty exit of the United States and its allies created additional unpredictability in the country. The international community should respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as an Afghan‑led and Afghan‑owned development path. He added that terrorist forces must not be allowed to take root in Afghanistan and hoped that the new authorities in Kabul will cut ties with all terrorist groups. He also hoped that relevant countries will release Afghan assets frozen abroad.
The representative of Ireland, Council President for September, spoke in her national capacity, saying that today’s resolution did not capture all the issues facing Afghanistan at this time of upheaval. She emphasized Afghanistan’s obligations under international, humanitarian, refugee and human rights law; full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers, especially women; and the protection of civilians. Over the next six months, the Taliban will be judged by their actions, not by their words, as the Council considers its next steps, including the parameters for future United Nations engagement, she added.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:27 a.m.