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Monday, May 23, 2022

UN to vote on its scope in Afghanistan, barring a Russia veto

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The Security Council votes Thursday on a resolution to secure the United Nations’ presence in war-torn Afghanistan into the future — unless Russia, which has stymied negotiations this week, vetoes the measure.

The draft text introduced by Norway reshapes the global body’s relations with Kabul to account for last year’s seizure of power by the Taliban, whose rule is still not recognized by the international community and who have yet to name new representatives to the United Nations.

According to a diplomatic source, Moscow on Wednesday opposed the long-discussed draft of a new mandate for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on the grounds it lacked “the consent of the de facto authorities,” namely the Taliban.

Moscow had filed an initial obstruction a day earlier, complaining — as did China — that human rights were given too much prominence in the text, a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. India, Brazil and France also sought changes.

Even after the measure was redrafted to account for the concerns, Russia was the only one of 15 Security Council members to oppose it.

The text “doesn’t reflect our position,” Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told AFP, without saying whether Moscow would go so far as to veto the resolution in Thursday’s 10:00 am (1400 GMT) vote.

The divisions that existed before have only been “further ignited by the war in Ukraine” and have now affected UN issues across the spectrum, the ambassador of a Security Council nation told AFP.

The “rift” between the West and Russia “is such that any consensus is difficult to achieve” among Security Council members, the envoy added.

Norway’s draft would extend UNAMA for another year, until March 17, 2023.

It calls for the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan population against the backdrop of dire economic conditions and a security situation that appears to be stabilizing.

The text also commits UNAMA to pursue dialogue with the country’s political stakeholders, “with a focus on promoting inclusive, representative, participatory and responsive governance at the national and subnational levels, without any discrimination based on gender, religion or ethnicity.”

And it seeks “the full, equal and meaningful participation of women” who largely have been excluded from Taliban governance to date.

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