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USG DiCarlo on Afghanistan: "Human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, and inclusion of all members of society will continue to be an integral part of all our discussions"

Remarks by Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo

Press conference following the meeting with members of Afghan civil society

and Special Envoys on Afghanistan

Doha, 2 July 2024



*The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s press conference by Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary Dicarlo.


This morning, we heard views from members of Afghan civil society, women and men, who provided us – the special envoys and the UN - with valuable insights on the rights of women and minorities in the country, girls’ education, the media, business and many other issues.

They shared their views and perspectives on the Doha process, as well as on engagement between Afghanistan and the international community generally.

Our exchange was extremely important and useful. You may recall that at Doha II, we also had extensive discussions with a broad range of voices.

This morning, we heard a diversity of views; Afghan civil society is not monolithic.

This wealth of perspectives must continue to be part of this process.

As I said at the meeting this morning and in talks with the de facto authorities, there is a need to build trust on all sides.

We have to have a dialogue that’s built on honesty.

It must also be based on principles -  those of the UN Charter and the various human rights treaties that Afghanistan is a party to.

We are still at the beginning of this process. We are going to need patience, a lot of it, and we are going to need to be realistic.

This is a process based on the independent assessment the UN Security Council recognized last November.

That assessment called for a more coordinated and structured process, with clear conditions and expectations for all sides.

It also called for a principled, step-for-step approach with a clear understanding of the outcomes and commitments from all sides.

Human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, and inclusion of all members of society will continue to be an integral part of all our discussions.

Regarding what’s next, as I mentioned yesterday, during the talks with the special envoys and the de facto authorities, there was discussion of creating smaller groups on key issues that are raised in the independent assessment. We will continue that discussion on how to proceed forward.

We are still at the beginning of this process. And it will take time and patience. But our approach has one goal: helping all the people of Afghanistan.


**Questions and Answers

Question (AFI): Thank you so much, Ms. DiCarlo, for this briefing and yesterday’s briefing. My question is regarding the participation of member states at the meeting today. A large number of countries didn’t turn to participate in today’s meeting and meet with society representatives. What do you make of that? They said that this is an important meeting, and yet it wasn’t part of the official meeting that took place in the past two days. Do you agree? Also, some people from Afghanistan and the diaspora community are saying that the people who participated from Afghanistan, either by Zoom or in person, are following the same agenda as the Taliban. Do you agree with that? Do you have anything to share with us?

USG DiCarlo: Thank you. First of all, I think there were a fair number of member states there. Some had travel arrangements and had to leave early. Attendance is optional; the attendance at Doha III is optional. As I said, there were a fair number of countries there who asked some very good questions to the civil society members who were participating. In terms of whether these individuals represented Taliban views or not – they represented themselves, and they were very clear that they were representing themselves. And I think, as I said it’s monolithic. There’s a variety of views. I don’t think there’s a difference for many of us, whether it’s the envoys, the civil society members who were there about an end state. There may be different views on how you get there, but I think it was really rich discussion. We heard a lot of different perspectives. We had people from the business community, from private sector, from the press, from women’s organizations, from business organizations, micro finance organizations, and it was very interesting, and I think quite a rich discussion.

Question (AFI): (inaudible)


USG DiCarlo: Were they upset? Obviously, I think that civil society, many would like to be at the official meeting, but they were pleased to have the opportunity to speak with some of the envoys and explain what they are doing and what their needs are. It’s important for us to understand what is it that various groups need. What are the obstacles to truly either practicing their profession or where do they see as obstacles for a society that’s more inclusive, etc. and we’ve got that perspective.

Question (NHK): Thank you, madam. When will what was discussed today be shared with the de facto government? How many countries today appeared, and how about the members of civil society. How many of them were physically present as well as virtually attending?

USG DiCarlo: I am not going to get into how many were there physically or not physically, but there were eight members of civil society who were there. In terms of number of countries, 15 countries and the EU. I don’t think the EU would mind that we mentioned that they were there. We had different counts, and everyone was sort of counting a little bit differently, but 15, 16 reps were there. Again, we understand that some had to leave because of pressing business. I know one in particular who very much regretted that he could not remain for another day. But again, we don’t mandate people coming to either Doha meeting or civil society meetings, or any other meetings. It was something we wanted to have as a possibility for the envoys to engage.

Question (DW): (inaudible)

USG DiCarlo: No, the discussion was within us. We are not sharing it beyond. People came on their own behalf and expressed views. We really appreciated it, and I think we learned quite a lot.

Question: My question is that we talked to the Taliban delegation, and they said that there were meetings with UN officials based on counter-narcotics, on banking and on supporting the private sector. Regarding girls’ education and inclusive government, and human rights, they said that it’s ‘our’ internal issue, and we will solve it ‘in our country’ according to Sharia, based on their interpretation of Sharia, and they said they will solve it according to ‘our tradition’. Do you think that such big issues could be internal affairs and could be solved in Afghanistan?

USG DiCarlo: OK, let me just explain that, first of all, we had a general session that encompassed the range of issues that were raised in the independent assessment that was done. Then we had two special sessions, one on private sector, and the other on counter-narcotics. We felt that we had to start somewhere and getting into the nitty-gritty of what the obstacles the de facto authority sees, for example, in developing the private sector and hear from the envoys and what they think could be done. So that’s one. In the general session and throughout, issues of human rights, especially women and girls, were raised. You can’t speak about private sector without talking about having women and more women in the private sector. It is not just, let’s say, the right of women to work. But if 50% of the population is not working, that’s pretty bad for a country’s economy. Let’s be perfectly clear here. In terms of counter-narcotics, obviously the issue of women was also raised. We have alternative livelihoods. There were some women who were growing these crops, it wasn’t just men. We have women addicts that need to be treated. This is an issue that absolutely has to be raised. Our role here is to go issue by issue in the independent assessment and cover those issues in a process. That will take time. Human rights, rights of women and girls factor in all of them. The issue of inclusion, inclusivity is a really important issue. It’s not just inclusive governance. It’s also inclusive aspects in the society, and that was raised as well. And that will be raised in subsequent meetings as we go along. Is it just an internal issue? Afghanistan has signed on to a number of treaties, international covenants, and agreements that are focused on human rights, civil rights. They are bound by those agreements. It doesn’t matter that a government changes; the country has signed on as a country. And in that sense, it is not just an internal issue, and we made that clear.

Question (Afghanistan International News Channel): There were a lot of talks and criticism about the secrecy of these three meetings – two official and one side event. About today, the names of the participants didn’t come out, and they try to not reveal the names and who is participating. Just to clear some minds and also some people who were criticizing this, can give us a quick explanation why these people didn’t want to actually have their names come out and introduce themselves? And the whole secrecy about these events – why is it so important for details to not come out from these events?

USG DiCarlo: We respect the privacy of participants in any of our meetings, whether it be on Afghanistan or on any issue. And certainly, we don’t release the names of people we meet with, particularly if they would prefer that they not be released. I think that that is something that we need to continue as an issue. If they want themselves to maintain or say to the press or anyone else that they were part of it, then that is certainly their prerogative. That’s not something that we do, and this is not just on Afghanistan. Our meetings when we meet, particularly with members of civil society, are closed meetings. And we’re not hiding anything, but we want to have good discussions and have any participants feel very comfortable.

Question (VoA): Thank you so much. This time, given the criticism of having a separate meeting with the Taliban and meeting separately with civil society activists, it seems as if the Taliban are not going to agree in the future, also, with anyone else. They’ve made it very clear in these two meetings that you have held in February and now. Would the UN again consider repeating this exercise the same way? Or would you, for future meetings, consider changing the format so that the UN does not receive the type of criticism that it has, because the Taliban would not sit with civil society activists, it’s quite clear.

USG DiCarlo: I would never say never. I think we will see as we go forward how we’re going to manage this issue. I think it’s a decision that not only we have to make, but also those who attend, the envoys who attend, on whether they think.. what they think who should be present, if you will. All we want to be able to do is to continue to speak to everybody and have everyone’s voice heard, and if we can amplify voices who are not, that are not present at a particular event, we are very happy to do that. But again, I would never say never. One thing I want to emphasize is that, if you read the independent assessment, it comes up with a lot of, a number of concerns that Afghanistan has to build its society. It also lists many of the concerns that international community has, where international community feels that Afghanistan is not abiding by its international obligations. A lot of thematic issues. Then at the very end talks about eventually needing an inter-Afghan dialogue. What we are doing is not an inter-Afghan dialogue right now. We are just going through issues at this point, and we want to get various perspectives. But let’s be perfectly honest, the citizens, de facto authorities are not ready for sitting down at the table with each other. At least, they weren’t for this past meeting.

Question: (inaudible)

USG DiCarlo: Thank you and thank you for the interest you have in this process.