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UN Creates New Envoy Position for Afghanistan, Continues Sanctions in 2024; China, Russia Issue Warnings

Among the new UN actions on Afghanistan for 2024, the UN Security Council on Dec. 14, 2023 voted to continue sanctions for the year, and on Dec. 29, voted up approval for the creation of a new U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, as part of a new “roadmap” towards the country’s normalization.

The roadmap vote was 13 in favor, with Russia and China abstaining.

The roadmap document was prepared as an “independent assessment” of Afghanistan, commissioned by the UNSC in March 2023, and delivered in November. Its 21 pages have positive measures about the need for engagement of the international community in normalizing relations with Afghanistan, for which the UNSC states “its support for a peaceful, stable, prosperous and inclusive Afghanistan,” the language in the resolution of approval. But there are big question marks over the role of the envoy, and rhetoric against the government over women, girls and human rights generally. The UN assessment’s name for the government in Kabul is “DFA”—de facto authority, and not the Taliban, nor the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or I.E.A.

The reaction in Kabul has been that more engagement with the international community, and other positive elements of the roadmap are welcome, such as humanitarian aid, but that the Taliban is the sovereign government of its nation, and the prospect of continued United Nations non-recognition and conditionalities is unwelcome.

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