UN asked to extend waiver allowing some Taliban leaders to travel abroad

The countries have asked the United Nations to keep in place a waiver to the Taliban travel ban that allows key members to travel abroad.

Why is this important: The UN travel ban waiver is due to expire on June 20, unless renewed. Supporters of the waiver extension suggest it allows peace talks to continue with the Taliban, while critics say it rewards the Taliban for their oppressive behavior.

Driving the news: Proponents of the waiver suggest it allows countries to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Taliban.

  • The UN waiver is seen as “a tool to facilitate contact with de facto authorities”, said Henrik Thune, Norway’s deputy foreign minister, Foreign Policy reports.
  • “In our view, this continues to be crucial if we are to influence the trajectory of Afghanistan’s future,” Thune said.
  • Norway is a member of the UN Security Council and hosted talks with the Taliban on human rights issues earlier this year.
  • The Biden administration has not released a recent position on the Trump-era waiver. But, at the end of 2021, the United States asked the UN to extend it, the the wall street journal reports.

The other side: Rights groups have urged the UN to end the waiver, saying Taliban leaders who have oppressed women and girls in Afghanistan are allowed to travel abroad, The Guardian reports.

  • Critics suggest that the extension of the waiver could be seen as “rewarding the Taliban despite their repressive political repressions and the reversal of fundamental human rights”. Foreign Police reports.

What they say : Heather Barreof Human Rights Watch, tweeted over the weekend that, at the very least, Taliban leaders responsible for banning girls’ education should be banned from travel.

  • “It is a false dichotomy to suggest that ending the travel ban exemption means giving up engaging the Taliban,” she tweeted. “Engage, by all means, in Kabul and Doha! But don’t legitimize them with fancy trips and don’t let the extraordinary abuses against women and girls go without consequences.”
  • Former Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström supported the expiry of the waiver, The Guardian reports.
  • “The long-standing UN travel ban on Taliban leaders has a waiver for some of them,” Wallström said. “Meanwhile, Afghan women can hardly leave their homes. The travel ban exemption should not be renewed unconditionally: real progress for Afghan women and girls.

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