Secretary-General's statement following two-day meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan

3 May 2023

Secretary-General's statement following two-day meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan

DOHA, QATAR - UN Secretary-General’s media stakeout in the Qatari capital, Doha, following two-day meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan.




DOHA, QATAR – 2 May 2023


Salam alikom.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press – thank you very much for your presence.

I am pleased to be back in Doha.

Let me begin by thanking the Government of Qatar for the exemplary hospitality.

I have come to Doha to convene a meeting of Special Envoys on Afghanistan for a frank and constructive exchange of views.

And I am so pleased that we were able to enter this meeting with the unanimous Security Council resolution 2681 of 27 April calling for full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

The spirit of unity shown in the adoption of the resolution was carried over into the meeting we just had.

The meeting was about developing a common international approach, not about recognition of the de facto Taliban authorities.

And what was important is that we all understand each other’s concerns and limitations, but agreed that it was in everyone’s interest, foremost the Afghans, to work together.

Participants agreed on the need for a strategy of engagement that allows for the stabilization of Afghanistan but also allows for addressing important concerns.

The participants are worried about the stability of Afghanistan and have expressed those serious concerns.

They relate to the persistent presence of terrorist organizations — a risk for the country, the region, and further afield.

The lack of inclusivity, which importantly includes human rights, in particular those of women and girls, severely undermined by recent Taliban decisions.

And the spread of drug trafficking with all its dramatic consequences.

While different countries placed different priorities on these concerns, according to their own situation, there is a general recognition that they are intertwined.

That prioritizing one issue was not to ignore the importance of the others, which allows for an overall shared approach.

To achieve our objectives, we cannot disengage. Many called for engagement to be more effective and based on lessons which we have learned from the past.

The UN will continue to use its convening power to advance a forward leaning approach, which puts the Afghan people first, and in a manner that is complementary to existing regional platforms and initiatives.

After a round of consultations, I am ready to convene a new similar meeting.

I was pleased to be accompanied by my Special Representative, Ms. Roza Otunbayeva, who has been leading our engagement effort in Kabul during this complicated, challenging time.

We look forward to the independent assessment mandated by Security Council Resolution 2679 that calls for forward looking recommendations for an integrated and coherent approach by the international community to the current challenges facing Afghanistan.

Special Coordinator for the Assessment, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu was introduced to the meeting and has begun his work in earnest.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

Allow me some comments in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

It is difficult to overestimate the gravity of the situation in Afghanistan.

It is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today.

Ninety-seven percent of Afghans live in poverty. Two-thirds of the population – 28 million – will need humanitarian assistance this year to survive.

Six million Afghan children, women, and men are one step away from famine-like conditions.

Meanwhile, funding is evaporating.

Our Humanitarian Response Plan, seeking $4.6 billion, has received a mere $294 million – 6.4 per cent of the total funding required.

But funding is not the only concern.

The vast majority of our personnel providing vital assistance are Afghan nationals.

And many are women aid workers.

The current ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations and national and international NGOs is unacceptable and puts lives in jeopardy.

Let me be crystal clear: we will never be silent in the face of unprecedented, systemic attacks on women and girls’ rights.

We will always speak out when millions of women and girls are being silenced and erased from sight.

This is a grave violation of fundamental human rights.

It also violates Afghanistan’s obligations under international law, namely, human rights law, and infringes on the principle of non-discrimination, which is a core tenet underpinning the United Nations Charter.

And it deliberately undermines the development of a country that desperately needs the contributions of all, in order to achieve sustainable peace and contribute to regional stability.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

Throughout the past decades, we stayed, and we delivered. And we are determined to seek the necessary conditions to keep delivering.

Humanitarian aid is a fragile lifeline for millions of Afghans.

The United Nations will not waver in our commitment to support the people of Afghanistan.

Thank you.


Question: Secretary-General, are there any circumstances under which you would meet the Taliban?

Secretary-General: When it is the right moment to do so, I will obviously not refuse that possibility. Today, is not the right moment to do so.

Question: What is the next step for the international community regarding Afghanistan?

Secretary-General: There are several initiatives going on, but I have agreed to convene another meeting in the near future, where we will be able to use this platform as a platform where so many different initiatives are coming together.