Will the United Nations Recognize the Taliban’s Afghanistan?

Since taking over Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban has struggled to gain recognition from the international community despite aggressively campaigning for it. But this situation may soon change as a top United Nations official discussed the possibility of recognizing the country’s Taliban authorities.

Amina Mohammed, the United Nations deputy secretary-general, said on April 17th that the organization would set up a meeting to talk about granting international recognition to the Taliban, emphasizing the importance of engaging with Afghanistan’s fundamentalist authorities.

Her remarks came after Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s reclusive chief, reiterated his plan to achieve the Taliban’s goal of "the religious and moral reform of the [Afghan] society" by vigorously enforcing Islamic law or Sharia.

She told the audience at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs in New Jersey that this proposed international conference would bring representatives for Afghanistan from all over the world to the table.

"What we are hoping is that we'll gather them now in another two weeks in the region, and they will have that first meeting of envoys across the board — the region and internationally — with the secretary-general for the first time," Mohammed said.

"And out of that, we hope that we'll find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition [of the Taliban], a principled recognition," the deputy secretary-general added. "Is it possible? I don't know. [But] that discussion has to happen. The Taliban clearly want recognition, and that's the leverage we have."

Mohammed previously visited Afghanistan last January and met with the Taliban leaders to discuss the wide-ranging restrictions against women they enforced since taking over the country after a US-led coalition withdrew from the country.

These restrictions, passed despite initial promises of a softer, more moderate rule by the Taliban, effectively curbed women’s rights to work and education in the country. They were even banned from going to specific public spaces, such as gyms and bathhouses.

Yet the Taliban insisted that they passed measures to protect women from gender-based violence and give them more inheritance rights, aside from combating corruption.

"But I don't have any engagement that the international community will allow me to have to know whether they are implementing it or not," Mohammed said regarding the Taliban’s claims.

The deputy secretary-general of the UN hopes increased engagement with the Taliban would allow the international community to hold the fundamentalist state accountable for its actions.

"We cannot allow that they continue to get worse, which is what happens when you don't engage," Mohammed said, adding that the Taliban is getting stronger due to increased economic engagement from neighboring countries.

According to the Associated Press, the meeting occurred in Doha, Qatar, on May 1 and 2. No recognition of the Taliban government took place, and no members of the Taliban were invited to attend.

The head of the Taliban political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said he dismissed the talks because “One-sided decisions couldn’t be delivered.” He said that Afghanistan is an independent country with a voice, and they should be listening to it.

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