UN spokesperson says women’s rights will be highlighted at Doha meeting

A UN spokesperson said on Sunday that the aim of the Doha meetings is to “encourage the Taliban to engage with the world in a coordinated and orderly manner for the benefit of the Afghan people.”

Stéphane Dujarric, the UN spokesperson, said on Sunday, June 23, that human rights, especially women’s rights, “will be highlighted in all discussions at the Doha meeting.”

Dujarric emphasized that the Doha meetings are “part of a process and not a one-time event” and that women and Afghan civil society will continue to be part of this process.

The Taliban will send their representatives to Qatar next week for a two-day meeting in Doha, which will include senior UN officials and special representatives from 25 countries for Afghanistan.

This is the third UN-led meeting and the first to include Taliban officials, but the exclusion of women and civil society representatives from the main meeting has sparked widespread criticism.

Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters that “excluding women [from the Doha meeting] risks legitimizing the Taliban and causing irreparable harm to the UN’s credibility as a defender of women’s rights and meaningful participation.”

Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, stated that “marginalizing important discussions on human rights is unacceptable and sets a very damaging precedent” regarding the third Doha meeting.

Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN’s political affairs chief, and Rosa Otunbayeva, the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, are expected to meet separately with Afghan civil society groups after they meet with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Otunbayeva stated that the Doha meeting will focus on the private sector and combating drug trafficking. She also mentioned that the upcoming meeting “has created significant expectations that realistically cannot be met in a single session.”

Critics have pointed out that the UN, by excluding women’s representatives and discussions on women’s rights from the upcoming Doha meeting, is overlooking the dire human rights situation in Afghanistan.

The absence of women’s voices in the meeting undermines efforts to address the severe restrictions imposed on women by the Taliban, who have banned women from most aspects of public life, including employment and education.

UN spokesperson says women’s rights will be highlighted at Doha meeting