UNAMA Human Rights Update: February – April 2023

Human rights situation in Afghanistan

Ban on Afghan women working with the United Nations

On 5 April 2023, the UN was informed by the de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that with immediate effect, no Afghan woman would be permitted to work for the UN in Afghanistan, and that this measure would be actively enforced. This decision extends the directive previously announced on 24 December 2022, banning Afghan women working for national and international non-governmental organizations. To date, several UN national female personnel have experienced restrictions on their movements, including harassment, intimidation, and detention. All Afghan staff of the UN have therefore been instructed not to report to the office until at least 5 May 2023.

This is a critical moment for the international community’s engagement with the de facto authorities on human rights issues,mostimportantly the rights of women and girls.Aunified response is needed to draw the de facto authorities’ attention to their international human rights obligations and the impact that exclusion of half the population will have on Afghanistan’s future.

The ban on Afghan women working with the United Nations is a violation of international law. It contravenes obligations set outin numerous human rights treaties and conventions to which Afghanistan as a State is a party, including the Charter of the United Nations. It is also contrary to the founding principles of the United Nations as a whole, an organization founded on respect for human rights and equality, and to the mandate oftheUnited NationsAssistance Mission in Afghanistan. The United Nations is, therefore, not in a position to accept or comply with the order of the de facto authorities.

This is the most recent in a series of discriminatory – and unlawful – measures implemented by the de facto authorities with the goal of severely restricting women and girls’ participation in most areas of public and daily life in Afghanistan. Taken as a whole, these measures will have disastrous effects on Afghanistan’s prospects for prosperity, stability and peace.