The Taliban and the United Nations: Potential for Collaboration?

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unveiled a plan to start discussions for the appointment of a UN envoy to mediate relations between the Taliban and the international community. Guterres expressed disappointment that the Taliban declined an invitation to attend a two-day international envoys’ meeting on Afghanistan, which he arranged in Doha on February 18. Pakistan’s delegation supported the UN Special Envoy’s appointment to Afghanistan, with the requirement that the envoy be a Muslim, seasoned diplomat, and from the region. The Taliban declined to participate in the summit due to unmet requirements. They laid out conditions for their attendance, including forbidding talks with Afghanistan’s civil society representatives and requiring a level of treatment equivalent to recognition. Diplomatic sources confirmed that the Taliban insisted on no criticism of the group during the meeting. The Russian embassy in Kabul announced that its representatives would not attend the UN-headed meeting and the Taliban supported this decision. Earlier, a former Turk ambassador and UN Special Coordinator recommended Afghanistan’s reintegration into the international economic and political system. The report also recommended the reintegration of the Afghan Taliban into the system, but the group has rejected calls to form a ‘comprehensive government.’