The Taliban has welcomed a UN Security Council resolution formally extending the UN’s presence in Afghanistan, although the Taliban-led government remains unrecognized by the international community.
The vote to extend the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) was 14 in favor, with Russia abstaining.
The resolution allows the UN to continue work in Afghanistan, where a humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated since the Taliban returned to power in August.
The new mandate authorizes the mission to promote gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, human rights of all Afghans, and an inclusive and representative government. But it does not give the Taliban-led government international recognition.
No country has recognized the Taliban-led government largely because of its lack of attention to respect for human rights, particularly the rights of girls, women, and ethnic minorities.
"We consider the extension of the mandate of UNAMA as a good step and want them to work effectively for solving humanitarian and other problems in Afghanistan," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on March 18.
"We will coordinate and cooperate with them," he added.
But in practice the militant group has gradually resurrected its discriminatory policies, enforcing strict segregation in universities, government offices, and on public transportation.
The Taliban has dramatically rolled back women’s rights in recent months, including closing most girls’ secondary schools and banning women from most forms of employment. Women who have demonstrated for greater rights have been arrested and, in some cases, disappeared.
Russia's abstention comes amid Moscow's international isolation over its invasion of Ukraine last month.
UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia criticized the council for not consulting “the host country” on the UN presence, saying it is important for “more substantive cooperation” between UNAMA and the Taliban, which would help the UN achieve its objectives and guarantee security for UN personnel.
UNAMA was first established in Afghanistan in 2002. Its mandate has in the past included humanitarian support, human rights advocacy, and political and regional cooperation. Before last year it also sought to protect civilians throughout the conflict and support the peace process.
Norwegian UN Ambassador Mona Juul, whose country drafted the resolution, said the council had sent a clear message with the new mandate.
“UNAMA has a crucial role to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and in supporting Afghan people as they face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty,” Juul said.