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Analysis

UNSC 'watered down' resolution takes note of 'dangerous' situation at Kabul airport

Nirendra Dev

Nirendra DevAug 31, 2021, 11:08 AM IST

UNSC 'watered down' resolution takes note of 'dangerous' situation at Kabul airport

13 of the 15 countries voted in favour of the resolution, which demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism and two prominent players in the Af-Pak region and permanent members at UNSC, China and Russia, abstained.

 

New Delhi: Does it show the helplessness of the western powers? No safe zone, no strict and crystal clear warning to the Taliban as well.

The draft from the 15-member strong council, co-written by the US, UK and France, simply “expects that the Taliban will adhere" to its various commitments. Of the 15 members at UNSC, two Permanent members China and Russia, abstained.

The UN Security Council resolution has noted the 'dangerous security situation' around Hamid Karzai International Airport at Kabul and expressed 'concern' that intelligence indicates further terrorist attacks may take place. But the global body has failed to spell out consequences for the Taliban if it ignores international norms and commitment. 

Of course, one way of looking at the resolution is that the Security Council passed a resolution that calls for the Taliban to facilitate safe passage for people wanting to leave Afghanistan, allow humanitarians to access the country, and uphold human rights, including for women and children.

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla chaired the UNSC meeting under the Indian presidency in which the resolution was adopted. "Today's resolution also highlights the importance of women's rights, minorities' rights... particularly Sikhs and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan. It has indicated a need for safe passage of people and to take necessary steps in its engagement with Afghanistan," Shringla said.

What is largely seen as a mild and watered down statement, Resolution No. 5 states- "UNSC notes the Taliban statement of August 27, 2021, in which the Taliban committed that Afghans will be able to travel abroad, may leave Afghanistan anytime they want to, and may exit Afghanistan via any border crossing, both air and ground, including at the reopened and secured Kabul airport, with no one preventing them from traveling."

The UN body thus expects that the Taliban will adhere to these and all other commitments, "including regarding the safe, secure, and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all foreign nationals." The outcome of the Resolution is also seen as a 'setback' for France, which had made calls for a UN safe zone.  The UK felt that the proposal could not be enforced without the UN or other troops.

Notably, 13 of the 15 countries voted in favour of the resolution, which demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism. It "demanded" that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts. Two prominent players in the Af-Pak region and permanent members at UNSC, China and Russia, abstained.

Speaking after the resolution was passed, the UK ambassador to the UN, Dame Barbara Woodward, said: “The immediate priority was to ensure all those who wish to leave Afghanistan can do so safely. We have today been clear that the Taliban must adhere to their own stated commitments to ensuring safe passage.”

The Resolution, of course, condemned in the strongest terms the deadly blasts at Kabul airport. The terrorist group Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) has claimed responsibility. Needless to add, thousands of Afghans have been trying to escape from the country ahead of the withdrawal of the United States by its self-imposed August 31 deadline.

The resolution expressed concern that intelligence indicates further terrorist attacks may occur in the airport area calls on the relevant parties to work with international partners to strengthen security and prevent further casualties. It "requests" that every effort be made to allow for the rapid and secure reopening of the Kabul airport and its surrounding area.

The resolution says Kabul blasts resulted in deaths and injuries of over 300 civilians and 28 military personnel and "takes note of the Taliban’s condemnation of this attack".

It "demanded" that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts, and reiterates the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, including those individuals and entities designated according to resolution 1267 (1999), and notes the Taliban’s relevant commitments. This could imply Pakistan-based outfits and individuals designated as terrorists.

The resolution also called for strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian help to Afghanistan. It calls on all parties to allow full, safe, and unhindered access for the United Nations, its specialized agencies and implementing partners, and all humanitarian actors engaged in humanitarian relief activity.

It says all parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances, including those related to the protection of civilians and also reaffirms the importance of upholding human rights, including those of women, children and minorities, encourages all parties to seek an inclusive, negotiated political settlement. It calls for full, equal and meaningful participation of women that respond to the desire of Afghans to sustain and build on Afghanistan’s gains over the last twenty years in adherence to the rule of law.

Meanwhile, Russia has been pressing the US to release Afghanistan’s assets held by the Federal Reserve, warning the Afghan economy is running out of cash at the banks.

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