Will Taliban get a chance to speak at UNGA? Global body says rules apply
The Taliban are unlikely to get a go at Saturday’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting of world leaders as the global body has said that Afghanistan's currently recognised UN ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, is listed as a speaker for the country. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told the Associated Press that as of Friday Isaczai, who represents former president Ashraf Ghani's now-ousted government, is the final speaker.
Reuters reported earlier this week that the Taliban have asked to address world leaders at the UNGA in New York and nominated their Doha-based spokesperson Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan's UN ambassador. Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi wrote to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres on Monday, asking to speak during the annual high-level meeting of the UNGA, the agency reported citing the letter. The Taliban have challenged Isaczai’s credentials, saying that they are now in charge and have the right to appoint ambassadors. Muttaqi said in his letter to Guterres that Ghani was “ousted” as of August 15 and that countries across the world “no longer recognise him as president.” Muttaqi said Isaczai therefore no longer represents Afghanistan.
AP reported that the UNGA committee, which decides on credentials challenges, has not met. It added that the nine-member committee’s meeting is highly unlikely over the weekend. UNGA spokesperson Monica Grayley said on Wednesday that the committee generally meets in November and will issue a ruling “in due course.” So, Isaczai will remain the Afghan envoy until the credentials committee takes a decision. He is currently scheduled to address the final day of the meeting on September 27. However, it was not immediately clear if any country might object in the wake of the Taliban letter.
“We have all the requirements needed for recognition of a government. So we hope the UN, as a neutral world body, recognise the current government of Afghanistan,” Shaheen told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The Taliban have said they want to be recognised internationally and also financial help to rebuild the war-torn country, but their new interim government poses a dilemma for the United Nations as well as other countries. Several of the Taliban ministers, including Muttaqi, are on the UN's so-called blacklist of international terrorists.
Reports said that the UNGA credentials committee could also use Taliban recognition as leverage to press for a more inclusive government that guarantees human rights, especially for girls who were barred from going to school during their previous rule, and women who weren't able to work. The United States, Russia, China, Bahama, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Sweden are the members of the committee.
The UN refused to recognise their government when the Taliban last ruled from 1996 to 2001 and instead gave Afghanistan's seat to the previous, warlord-dominated government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was killed by a suicide bomber in 2011.
(With agency inputs)