The text of the following communiqué was agreed upon by the Special Representatives and Envoys for Afghanistan from the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States in Brussels, April 5, 2022.
The Special Representatives and Special Envoys of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Brussels on 5 April 2022 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Deborah Lyons, SRSG for Afghanistan, also attended the meeting, which included technical sessions with the World Bank and UNICEF.
The Special Representatives and Envoys:
- Reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Afghan people and the need to continue to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan; the importance of adherence to International Humanitarian Law and the independence of humanitarian operations; stressed the importance of all humanitarian staff, including female staff, having unhindered access to any areas of the country necessary to perform their jobs effectively and the need for all Afghans in need to have unhindered access to humanitarian aid; and called for any remaining obstacle to the provision of humanitarian assistance to be removed immediately.
- Condemned the Taliban’s decision on 23 March 2022 to continue denying Afghan girls the ability to attend secondary education, which contradicts the Taliban’s assurances to the Afghan people and to the international community; affirmed that every Afghan citizen, in all provinces of the country and regardless of gender, has an equal right to education at all levels; called for an immediate reversal of the ban on education for girls above grade 6; and emphasised that the type and scope of international donor assistance will depend, among other things, on the right and ability of girls to attend equal education at all levels.
- Noted that their governments and organisations had already substantially increased humanitarian and basic needs support, including for healthcare, to the Afghan people to mitigate Afghanistan’s humanitarian and economic crisis and to ensure the continuation of basic services. Highlighted that 2.23 billion EUR were raised at the international humanitarian pledging conference on 31 March 2022, and nearly two thirds (1.42 billion EUR) of this total came from the combined pledges of the EU, EU Member States, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- Reaffirmed that progress towards normalised relations between the Taliban and the international community will depend mostly on the Taliban’s actions and their delivery on commitments and obligations to the Afghan people and to the international community.
- Raised strong concerns about the continued structural and systemic abuse of Afghans’ economic, social, legal, political and cultural rights, recognised in the international conventions to which Afghanistan is a State Party, including rights of ethnic and religious minorities and groups; and noted that such violations and abuses include killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, physical abuse, torture, and the shrinking space for civil society, freedom of peaceful assembly and of movement.
- Specifically condemned violations and abuses of the rights of Afghan women and girls in the country, including restrictions on freedom of movement, as well as exclusion from political, economic, educational and social spaces, and acknowledging also that women and girls are disproportionally affected by the humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan.
- Expressed concern over restrictions on freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, notably through media crackdowns, the increasing restrictions on broadcasters, journalists and media workers, particularly restrictions on women working in the media, as well as unjust detentions of journalists, and the prohibition on some international media outlets within Afghanistan.
- Raised the importance of a genuine and credible inclusive political process in Afghanistan with the meaningful participation of women and religious groups and minorities, that leads to national reconciliation and broad-based and representative governance; emphasised that an inclusive and representative government is crucial for lasting peace and stability in the country; and noted the importance of the Taliban engaging regularly with other political and civil society leaders in a sincere dialogue that leads to an inclusive political system in which the rights of all Afghans are respected.
- Discussed additional ways to help the Afghan people in sustaining their livelihood by stabilizing the economy and increasing liquidity in the country, and particularly highlighted the necessity of the Taliban creating favourable conditions, including an enabling environment for stimulating investment and other economic activity by adherence to rule of law; made clear that the Taliban expanding the capability and professionalism of the Afghan Central Bank, free from political interference, will be an important step toward stabilisation of the financial sector; agreed to further explore ways of addressing the macro-economic and financial sector crisis in the country and to closely coordinate on this issue.
- Noted that the type and scope of future non-humanitarian development assistance to Afghanistan will be determined in large part by the Taliban’s actions and their upholding of the rights of all Afghans, particularly women, girls and members of minority groups.
- Underscored that the Taliban must fulfil their counterterrorism commitments as well as their commitments to counter drug production and trafficking and welcomed the Taliban’s recent decision to ban opium cultivation.
- Reaffirmed their expectations that the Taliban must allow safe, secure and orderly travel to and from Afghanistan, of both Afghans and foreign nationals, in full respect of freedom of movement and travel, policies to which the Taliban have committed in the past, as was highlighted in the UN Security Council Resolution 2593 (2021).
- Highlighted the need for the neighbours of Afghanistan, the countries of the region, other Muslim-majority countries and all international partners to cooperate in Afghanistan with the interest of the Afghan people in mind, in view of alleviating their humanitarian and economic situation, meeting their basic needs, and promoting their human rights.
- Welcomed the expanded role for the United Nations work in Afghanistan as spelled out in the Security Council Resolution 2626 (2022) renewing the mandate of UNAMA, and by the appointment by the Human Rights Council (HRC) of Richard Bennett as Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, and emphasised the importance of the United Nations, including the Special Rapporteur, having unhindered access throughout the territory of Afghanistan and to all Afghans.
- Expressed their appreciation to the European Union for organizing these consultations and hosting the meeting.