UNSC adopts new resolution on Afghanistan under India’s Presidency; China, Russia abstain

The new resolution on Afghanistan by UNSC was the first one adopted by the 15 powerful nation councils on the ongoing situation in the country after the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban. It also came on the penultimate day of India’s presidency of the Security Council for August 2021.

UNSC resolution on Afghanistan
UNSC resolution on Afghanistan

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), under India’s Presidency, has adopted a new resolution on Afghanistan, demanding that the territory must not be used to threaten any country or shelter terrorists.

The resolution adopted by UNSC also expects that the Taliban will adhere to the commitments made by it regarding the safe and orderly departure from the country of Afghans and all the foreign nationals.

The UNSC on August 30, 2021, adopted the resolution sponsored by the UK, France, and the US with 13 members voting in favour, none against, and permanent, veto-wielding members China and Russia abstaining.

The latest resolution on Afghanistan was the first one adopted by the 15 powerful nation councils on the ongoing situation in the country after the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban. It also came on the penultimate day of India’s presidency of the Security Council for August 2021.

UNSC adopts resolution on Afghanistan:

•  The resolution, reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and national unity of Afghanistan, condemned the deplorable attacks of August 26, 2021, near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul for which the Islamic State in Khorasan Province has claimed responsibility. The attacks resulted in the deaths and injuries of over 300 civilians and 28 military personnel. The resolution by UNSC also took note of the Taliban’s condemnation of attacks.

•  The resolution by UNSC demands that the Afghan territory must not be used to attack or threaten any country or to shelter or train the terrorists, or to finance or plan terrorist acts, and reiterates the significance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan.

•  The resolution notes the statement by the Taliban on August 27, 2021, in which it committed that the Afghans will be able to travel abroad, they may leave the country any time they want to, and may also exit Afghanistan via any border crossing, both air and ground with no one preventing them from travelling. The resolution expects that the Taliban will follow its commitments, including and regarding the safe, secure, and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all the other foreign nationals.

•  Through the resolution, the UNSC also took note of the dangerous security situation around the Kabul Airport and expressed concerns that the Intelligence indicates that more terrorist attacks may take place in the area. The resolution calls on the relevant parties to work with the international partners for strengthening security and preventing more attacks.

•  The resolution reaffirms the significance of upholding human rights including those of children, women and minorities and encourages all the parties to seek an inclusive, political statement with full, equal and meaningful participation of women. The resolution also calls for strengthened efforts of providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Why there was a need to adopt resolution on Afghanistan?

•  US Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas Greenfield said that the resolution establishes clear expectations regarding the future of Afghanistan- that UNSC expects the Taliban to live up to its commitment of facilitating safe passage for Afghans and Foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan.

•  The resolution by the UNSC is also a significant step towards a unified international response to the situation in Afghanistan.

•  UNSC will continue to build on this to ensure that the Taliban is held accountable for its commitments. It will be judged by the International Community on the basis of their actions on the ground and not on their words.

Why Russia and China have abstained from the resolution?

The US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield said that the council took into account some of the concerns of both Russia and China that were raised in the draft resolution which was eventually approved. So the fact that they abstained, they will have t explain themselves.

Russia abstained-

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN said that Moscow was forced to abstain during the vote on the resolution on Afghanistan as the authors ignored principled concerns.

He explained that despite the fact that the resolution was proposed against the backdrop of a terrible terrorist attack, the authors of the resolution refused to refer to a passage on the fight against terrorism ‘containing the internationally recognized organisations the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and ISIL’.

Russia sees this as a reluctance to acknowledge the obvious and a plan to divide the terrorists into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’.

China abstained-

Geng Shuang, Chinese Ambassador said that the nations concerned circulated the draft resolution on the evening of August 27 and demanding action to be taken on August 30.

The Chinese government has doubts about the urgency and necessity of adopting this resolution as well as the balance of its content. Despite this, China participated constructively in all the consultations and had also put forward important amendments.

China has always opposed the imposition or the forceful pushing for the resolution by any sponsors and based on the above considerations, China decided to abstain from this draft resolution.

China further added that in face of the fundamental changes in the domestic situation in Afghanistan, it is important for the international community to engage with the Taliban and provide them with guidance.

India’s Presidency over UNSC:

India had assumed the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on August 1, 2021. The country had taken over the rotational presidency of the UNSC from France. The country had said that its focus will be counterterrorism, maritime security, and peacekeeping during its presidency.

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