The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 3 November 2023.
Statement from special representatives and envoys for Afghanistan from Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, UK and USA after their 18 October 2023 meeting.
The special representatives and envoys for Afghanistan agreed to continue their regular consultations to develop consistent joint policies on Afghanistan and promote coherent approaches to the outstanding challenges facing Afghanistan.
Special observers at the meeting included representatives from Türkiye, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the OIC, UNAMA and UNODC. In addition, Afghan civil society figures participated in a preparatory virtual session, held in advance of the proceedings. Participants issued the below joint statement:
- Acknowledged the dire humanitarian and economic situation that the Afghan population faces, with more than 29 million Afghans in need of urgent assistance; focused on the need to address Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis and reiterated their call on the Taliban to ensure unhindered access for all humanitarian aid workers, both men and women, to perform their jobs effectively in all areas of the country, with an emphasis on the need to serve vulnerable populations who cannot be reached without the employment of women.
- Highlighted the substantial humanitarian assistance provided for Afghanistan from their respective governments and organizations, which, according to UNOCHA, totals roughly US$6.3 billion since August 2021, representing about 74% of all humanitarian aid contributions made to Afghanistan since that time; noted, however, that humanitarian aid levels are dropping while needs are not; and emphasized the need for monitoring of aid for robust donor support to continue.
- Expressed their support to the population recently hit by devastating earthquakes in Western Afghanistan; and affirmed commitments by group members to provide assistance to the affected communities and coordinate their efforts for an effective response to the most urgent needs. An additional amount of US$33 million aid in support of earthquake-hit areas has already been decided by their respective governments and organisations, more assistance is in the planning stages.
- Acknowledged that support for humanitarian aid, while essential, does not address the underlying causes of Afghanistan’s deteriorating macro-economic situation; recalled the Taliban’s responsibility for the deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation, as well as their responsibility for the recovery of the country and the improvement of the economic situation; called for expanding donors support to basic needs assistance, private sector growth initiatives, women’s empowerment efforts and livelihoods generation; and noted the importance of multilateral development banks playing a leading role in this effort, including through drawing on own-bank financing to complement continuing bilateral contributions. The amount of resources already provided by their respective governments and organisations since August 2021 in support of basic human needs and livelihood totals approximately US$2.1 billion.
- Expressed grave concern for the human rights situation in Afghanistan; and reiterated their firm belief that the Taliban’s policies excluding women and girls from social, economic, political and cultural life in Afghanistan, including restrictions on education and employment, violate the rights of Afghans and international obligations, deeply undermine the economy and affect the prospect of the country’s development and long-term stability. Welcomed the reports by UNAMA and by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and noted the willingness of the Taliban to allow access to the country to the Special Rapporteur and to engage with both.
- Called on the Taliban to reverse their restrictive educational policies immediately; and affirmed that education is a human right and that equal access to quality education, based on curricula that meet international standards and that cover various areas of knowledge should be ensured for all.
- Noted with regret that the Taliban has taken no serious steps to initiate an inclusive political process with fellow Afghans regarding the future order of the country; and affirmed that legitimacy is derived, first and foremost, from the Afghan people. Emphasized that a new constitution for the country should only be adopted following a transparent, inclusive, and meaningful national consultative dialogue and urged the Taliban and other Afghans to seek advice from the UN and OIC in this regard.
- Welcomed the implementation of the Taliban’s ban on opium cultivation in Afghanistan and the roughly 80% drop in the opium harvest across the country this year; called for this ban to continue and for additional steps to be taken to address synthetic drug production and drug trafficking; welcomed the establishment by UNAMA of a Technical Working Group on counternarcotics and other initiatives that could allow for engagement with the Taliban on these issues, including alternative livelihoods and the challenges of substance abuse in the country.
- Urged greater attention to Afghanistan’s vulnerability to climate change; and called for creative, sustainable solutions to the grave environmental challenges facing the country.
- Acknowledged Taliban actions to tackle terrorist threats from ISIS-K but expressed concern that some terrorist groups still reside safely inside Afghanistan and are able to plan and carry out cross-border terrorist strikes.
- Urged all states, including Afghanistan’s neighbours, to uphold their applicable obligations with respect to the protection of refugees and to promote the right to seek asylum, and to ensure individuals, particularly those from at risk groups, who would face persecution or torture if returned, are protected from being forcibly returned, and call on these states to put in place measures to develop a system of registration for undocumented Afghans, while ensuring protection for vulnerable Afghans in need of international protection.
- Stressed the importance of international unity on Afghanistan, including on not normalizing relations with the Taliban and on support for respecting the rights of every citizen of Afghanistan, particularly the right of women and girls to education, employment, and public participation; welcomed the important work of UNAMA under the leadership of SRSG Roza Otunbayeva; looked forward to the UN Special Coordinator’s report on 17 November; and welcomed the UN Secretary General’s offer to host a second meeting of special representatives and envoys soon.
- Expressed appreciation to Italy for hosting this meeting on Afghanistan.