What's In Blue

Posted Thu 17 Dec 2020

Afghanistan: Vote on Sanctions Draft Resolution*

Tomorrow (18 December) the Security Council president (South Africa) is expected to announce the result of the voting on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee. The written voting procedure on the draft resolution started today (17 December) at 3 pm and is expected to be concluded by tomorrow at 3 pm. The results of the vote will be read out tomorrow afternoon.

The draft text in blue renews the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee for a period of one year. The operative section of the draft resolution remains the same as that of resolution 2501 of 16 December 2019 that most recently renewed the Monitoring Team’s mandate.

The negotiations on the draft text in blue appear to have been generally consensual, despite disagreements concerning modifications suggested by the US, the penholder on Afghanistan sanctions, in the preambular paragraphs. Most Council members preferred for the resolution to be a rollover of resolution 2501 without changes, especially considering that the first draft was circulated on 10 December, limiting the time for negotiations prior to the 17 December expiry of the Monitoring Team’s mandate.

The practice in previous years has been to renew the mandate of the Monitoring Team for two years. However, in 2019 the US proposed a shorter mandate period. It seems that the US initially suggested that the mandate of the team be renewed for only three months. At the time, the US circulated the draft resolution three days before the expiry of the Monitoring Team’s mandate. A compromise was reached to renew the mandate for one year. It is possible that the impetus behind the US proposal for a shorter mandate was its desire to facilitate progress in its negotiations with the Taliban at the time.

The draft text in blue calls for a one-year renewal of the Monitoring Team’s mandate. This was acceptable to all Council members, as it would align the mandate cycle of the Monitoring Team for the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee and the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, which is set to expire in December 2021. Since the same Monitoring Team supports the 1988 and 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions Committees, Council members have traditionally sought to renew the mandates for both committees for the same period.

The US placed a draft text under silence on 14 December. The EU members of the Council broke silence the following day, apparently given their preference for a text nearly identical to resolution 2501. The US seemingly sought to remove language contained in resolution 2501 that referenced the Taliban’s terrorist activities and its role in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan. In addition, the US added language referencing the review of designations in the 1988 sanctions regime stipulated by resolution 2513. A compromise was reached by retaining the original reference to the Taliban’s role in the narcotics trade and illicit exploitation of natural resources, while removing the reference to the Taliban’s activities as terrorist acts. Language regarding the review of sanctions designations was also retained.

It appears that the US similarly took issue with characterising Taliban activities as terrorist in nature during the negotiations on the 3 December General Assembly resolution on the situation in Afghanistan. In its explanation of vote following the adoption of that resolution, which the US voted for but did not co-sponsor, the US representative regretted that the resolution failed to make a distinction between the Taliban on the one hand and ISIL and Al‑Qaida on the other.


*Post-script: On 18 December, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2557, renewing the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1998 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee for another year, until 17 December 2021.

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