When on August 30th the UN Security Council declared to the Taliban that it would keep apprised of and actively involved in the human rights situation in Afghanistan, it raised the challenge to civil society to continue and to increase its action to advocate the cause of the human security of the Afghan people.
“To Remain Seized of the Matter”
The last words of Security Council Resolution 2593 [S/RES/2593, adopted August 30, 2021], “Decides to remain seized of the matter”, in ordinary language mean “We will keep up with this.” And so they should, as should we, all civil society activists, bringing pressure on our governments and the UN to safely evacuate all who remain at risk in Afghanistan and to assure the security of those who remain.
The resolution was the second articulation of the international community’s intention to hold the Taliban to the observance of fundamental standards of human rights as is incumbent upon all community members. It and other recent statements inform the Taliban, as urged by civil society, that compliance with these standards is a fundamental requisite to their much-desired acceptance into “the community of nations.” States and citizens should engage with the Taliban, now the de facto government of Afghanistan, making it clear that violation of the standards jeopardizes international acceptance.
We take some hope that the standards may be observed as a consequence of the Joint Statement on Afghanistan Evacuation Travel Assurances calling upon the Taliban to allow all who want or need to leave Afghanistan to do so safely. UN ambassadors such as Geraldine Byrne Nason of Ireland have stated that the UN would hold the Taliban to account for human rights violations and any denial of women’s dignity and autonomy, standards to be met by any government seeking acceptance into the international community. We in civil society fervently hope that this time, those injunctions will be enforced, not remain the rhetoric that raises hopes without the action that “remaining seized” suggests.
It will be in large part up to us in civil society to hold states and the UN responsible to follow through on all action possibilities. For without us, those of civil society who took the first steps toward the establishment of the norms of women’s rights cited by Pramila Patten, Executive Director of UN Women in her strong statement on what the international community, will demand of the Taliban, those demands may well remain rhetoric.
International civil society will remain seized of the matter, continuing to press our respective governments and the United Nations to remain so seized as to assure the evacuation of all those now at risk and to eliminate the risk to women and civil society activists remaining in Afghanistan.