Adopting Resolution 2593 (2021), Security Council Condemns Deadly Attacks in Afghanistan, Calls for Combating Terrorism, Upholding Human Rights
The Security Council today strongly condemned attacks that took place near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 26 August, which resulted in deaths and injuries to over 300 civilians and 28 military personnel.
By terms of resolution 2593 (2021), adopted by a vote of 13 in favour with two abstentions (Russian Federation and China), the 15-member organ demanded that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country and reiterated the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan.
By other terms, it called for enhanced efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and called on all parties to allow safe, unhindered access for the United Nations and its agencies, including with respect to internally displaced persons. Further by its terms, it called on all donors and international humanitarian actors to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and major Afghan refugee-hosting countries. It went on to reaffirm the importance of upholding human rights, including those of women, children and minorities, and encouraged all parties to seek an inclusive, negotiated political settlement, with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.
In addition, it noted the Taliban statement of 27 August, in which the Taliban committed that Afghans will be able to travel abroad, leave Afghanistan anytime they want to, and may exit the country via any border crossing. By other terms, it noted the dangerous security situation around Hamid Karzai International Airport and called on the relevant parties to work with international partners to take steps to strengthen security and to prevent further casualties.
The representative of the United States said the resolution establishes clear expectations. First, the Council expects the Taliban to live up to its commitment to allow Afghans the right to leave the country. As of the morning of 30 August, more than 122,000 individuals have been evacuated since the end of July. Allies and partners around the world have contributed to the airlift and acted as host countries, she said. Second, the resolution signals the Security Council’s enduring commitment to those who remain in Afghanistan and insists that humanitarian actors be given full, safe access to deliver aid. Needs in the coming months will be vast, she warned, with an estimated 500,000 internally displaced persons and 14 million people at risk of starvation in the country. She went on to reiterate in strong terms the need to continue to combat terrorism in the country and said the international community must remain united and resolute as Afghanistan enters a new chapter.
The representative of France expressed regret that the adoption wasn’t unanimous. Now, the text needs to be implemented on the ground, she stressed. As the situation continues to deteriorate, the resolution calls on everyone to make all efforts to secure the airport and surrounding areas to ensure people can leave and humanitarian assistance can arrive. Underscoring the importance to fight terrorism within the country with the help of the Taliban, she said the achievements of the last 20 years must be preserved. In addition, her delegation reiterated its expectations for the establishment of a transitional government that will meet the needs for all people.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the Council had made their expectations of the Taliban clear through the resolution. Afghanistan can never again become a haven for terrorists, she continued, stressing that a coordinated approach will be vital to counter any extremist threat in the country. The humanitarian situation requires urgent attention, and the gains of the last 20 years, including on the human rights front, must be safeguarded. The resolution lays down a marker that the international community will be watching closely, she said.
The representative of Ireland said her country voted in favour of the resolution because it is important to hear the Council’s voice at this time. The focus in the text on ensuring full and unhindered access to aid is vitally important, as well as the upholding of human rights and the importance of including the voice of women in any negotiated agreements. Indeed, her delegation would have preferred stronger language on that front. The Taliban will be judged by its actions and not by its words, she said, urging that any Afghans who want to leave the country must be allowed to do so.
The representative of the Russian Federation condemned the terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport and said that his country abstained from the vote because the authors of the draft ignored his delegation’s concerns, referring to their refusal to add an additional passage on terrorism and their reluctance to acknowledge the terrorist threat of other groups, instead separating them into “ours and theirs”. The draft also did not acknowledge the negative impacts of evacuating valuable economists and other skilled individuals who will be important for the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Moreover, there was no reference to the harmful influence of freezing economic assets in Afghanistan and the negative impact that it has on the people remaining there. Had there been more time, the result of the vote may have been different. However, his delegation viewed the text as an effort to shift the blame from the 20 years of failed presence in Afghanistan to the Taliban and not the countries that occupied the country for so long.
The representative of Estonia said the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating and United Nations agencies need unimpeded and safe access, which requires a safe and functioning airport. She also stressed the importance of adherence to international standards on human rights, especially as it pertains to women and girls.
The representative of China said that, given the fragile situation in Afghanistan, any actions taken by the Security Council should help ease rather than intensify tensions in the conflict. The authors of the draft only circulated it on 27 August and China has doubts about the urgency to pass the resolution and the balance of its contents, he said. Unfortunately, its amendments were not fully adopted. The recent chaos in Afghanistan is a direct result of the hasty withdrawal of troops there and now should be a time of reflection, he stressed. Relevant countries should change their hegemonic practice of imposing sanctions and using force at every turn. Furthermore, those countries should not claim to support social and economic development while seizing Afghans overseas assets. Criminal activities by the United States and Australia in the killing of innocent civilians should not be ignored either. To achieve fundamental changes, it is vital to work with the Taliban and provide them with guidance in order to help maintain stability. Condemning the terrorist attack in Kabul, he said it demonstrates the occupation of the country over the last 20 years did nothing to eliminate such groups. On the issue of counter-terrorism, there must be a balanced approach, he said.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 3:42 p.m.