What's In Blue

Posted Fri 16 Dec 2022

Afghanistan: Vote on the Mandate of the Monitoring Team Supporting the 1988 Sanctions Committee*

This morning (16 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 also supports the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee. Resolution 2610 of 17 December 2021 extended the Monitoring Team’s mandate to support the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee until June 2024.

The draft resolution in blue renews the Monitoring Team’s mandate to support the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee for a period of one year. Apart from a change to the expiry date of the Monitoring Team’s mandate and a minor typographical amendment, the operative section of the draft resolution is identical to resolution 2611 of 17 December 2021, which most recently renewed the Monitoring Team’s mandate to support the 1988 committee.

Following initial negotiations on the text among the P5 (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US), the US, the penholder on Afghanistan sanctions issues, circulated a first draft of the resolution to all Council members on 7 December. After receiving input from Council members, the US put a revised draft directly under silence until 14 December. China and Russia subsequently broke silence, and a second revised draft was then put in blue yesterday (15 December).

While no substantive changes have been made to the operative part of the draft resolution in blue, several amendments were incorporated into the preambular section. Among other matters, the penholder added preambular language emphasising the Council’s deep concern regarding the dire economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan; recalling that women, children, and minorities have been disproportionately affected by these difficult conditions; and recognising the need to help address the substantial challenges facing Afghanistan’s economy, including through the restoration of banking and financial systems and enabling the use of assets belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank for the benefit of the Afghan people.

It seems that China suggested adding language referring to Afghanistan’s “frozen assets”, while Russia proposed including text suggesting that “unfettered access” to the assets of Afghanistan’s Central Bank would prevent economic collapse. The US apparently opposed these suggestions and they were not incorporated in the draft text in blue.

Preambular text referring to humanitarian activities in Afghanistan, including language on resolution 2615 of 22 December 2021, which established a humanitarian exception to the 1988 Afghanistan sanctions regime, was added to the draft in blue. Additional language on human rights and the situation of women and girls was included in the preambular paragraphs, including text expressing concern about the erosion of respect for the rights of women and girls and persistent sexual and gender-based violence. Language on the importance of establishing a truly inclusive and representative government was also incorporated in the preambular section of the draft resolution.

Preambular language on human rights and the situation of women and girls was an apparent point of contention during the negotiations. It seems that China and Russia broke silence over concerns regarding this text and argued that the relevant paragraphs could be streamlined and made more concise. After these objections were raised, language referring to recent instances involving public executions and corporal punishment and recalling that such punishments may constitute a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment was removed from the draft that was put in blue. Text concerning the exclusion of women from the workplace was also deleted from the draft resolution after China and Russia broke silence, along with language emphasising the importance of the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women in government.

It seems that the US also suggested adding a preambular reference to resolution 2593 of 30 August 2021, which the Council adopted soon after the Taliban’s seizure of power. This was opposed by other Council members. It appears that the US agreed that the reference could be omitted if the international community’s concerns were reflected in other parts of the preambular section, and it was not retained in the draft resolution in blue.

Preambular language on reviewing the 1988 sanctions regime was another issue for Council members. It seems that China suggested adding text referring to the adjustment of sanctions and the need to take into account the reality on the ground. This was unacceptable to the US, who apparently argued that the meaning of the phrase “reality on the ground” is unclear. Russia apparently also proposed adding a reference to adjusting sanctions based on “the situation on the ground” in Afghanistan. This proposal was not included in the draft that was placed under silence, leading one Council member to break silence.

The draft in blue notes the “importance of the sanctions review when and if appropriate, while taking into account the situation on the ground, in a manner that is consistent with the overall objective of promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan”. It appears that the text on the objective of promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan was added following a proposal from Brazil, who apparently argued that the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee should not lose sight of the overall objective of the sanctions regime.


*Post-script: On 16 December, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2665, renewing the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee for one year.

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