What's In Blue

Posted Fri 17 Dec 2021

Afghanistan: Vote on Sanctions Draft Resolution*

This afternoon (17 December), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee.

The same Monitoring Team supports the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee and the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. A vote on a draft resolution updating the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida sanctions regime is also expected to take place this 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 is nearly the same as that of resolution 2557 of 18 December 2020, which most recently renewed the Monitoring Team’s mandate. The only amendment to the operative section of the resolution is the removal of references to the “Government of Afghanistan” in light of the Taliban’s seizure of power in August. This change to the text was apparently acceptable to all Council members and was not contentious.

The US, the penholder on Afghanistan sanctions, circulated a first draft of the resolution on 10 December. After receiving input from Council members, the penholder placed the draft under silence on Tuesday (14 December), which was broken that same day. A revised draft was then placed in blue on Wednesday (15 December).

It seems that most of the discussion during the negotiations centred on proposed new language in the preambular paragraphs. This was also the case during the negotiations on resolution 2557. The penholder apparently included language in the zero draft that called on all parties to allow unhindered access for UN staff and other humanitarian actors, including female staff, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need. Other new language encouraged the establishment of an inclusive government in Afghanistan, including the full and meaningful participation of women. Although these proposals were supported by several Council members—including European members of the Council—they were ultimately not incorporated in the draft resolution in blue. It seems that other members preferred that the draft resolution adhere closely to the substance of resolution 2557, with minimal changes to the text.

A new element that was retained in the draft resolution in blue is language on human rights and the protection of civilians. This provision, which was supported by several members, reaffirms “the importance of upholding human rights including those of women, children and members of vulnerable populations and minorities”. The draft text in blue also emphasises that all parties “must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances, including those related to the protection of civilians”.

It seems that references to the Taliban were a divisive area of discussion during the negotiations. The zero draft of the resolution apparently included language from resolution 2557 which expressed concern regarding violent activities by the Taliban and associated groups, including the Haqqani Network, and ongoing terrorist activities by Al-Qaida, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), and their affiliates in Afghanistan. However, some members—including China and Russia—apparently wanted these references to the Taliban and associated groups removed from the text. Although other members, such as France and India, wanted these references to remain in the resolution, they were ultimately not retained in the draft text in blue.

*Post-script: On 17 December 2021, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2611, renewing the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee for a period of one year.