Afghanistan

US-Europe Joint Statement on Afghanistan, 26 January 2022

Special Representatives and Special Envoys of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Oslo on 24 January 2022 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, including sessions with representatives of the Taliban and civil society actors.

The Special Envoys and Special Representatives:

  1. Focused on the urgency in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and highlighted necessary steps to help alleviate the suffering of Afghans across the country. Participants recognised steps taken to ease access for humanitarian workers, male and female, whilst also expressing concern that there are still certain impediments in place, and participants also reiterated the importance of swiftly removing all conditions and obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid.

  2. Raised the importance of respect for human rights and the strong need for an inclusive and representative political system to ensure stability and a peaceful future for Afghanistan.

  3. Urged the Taliban to do more to stop the alarming increase of human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions (to include recent detentions of women’s rights activists), forced disappearances, media crackdowns, extra-judicial killings, torture and prohibitions on women and girls’ education, employment and freedom to travel without a male escort.

  4. Noted with grave concern the absence from, and limitations on access to, secondary schools for girls in many parts of the country and underscored the importance of higher education for women as well as job opportunities for women in all fields. Welcomed the Taliban’s public pledges that all women and girls can access schools at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) when schools across the country reopen in March but emphasized the need for practical, budgetary and technical preparations to ensure this becomes a reality.

  5. Reaffirmed our expectation that the Taliban will uphold their commitments on counterterrorism and drug trafficking.

  6. Noted that our governments are expanding relief operations, helping prevent the collapse of social services and supporting the revival of Afghanistan’s economy. Participants noted the importance of increasing cash liquidity and support to the banking sector in order to help stabilize the Afghan economy. Participants further pressed for the development of a transparent, sound strategy to restore confidence in the financial sector.

  7. Made clear that their meetings with the Taliban in no way implied any sense of official recognition or legitimization of the interim government announced by the Taliban in September 2021.

  8. Welcomed updates from the women and civil society actors and the Taliban representatives on the status of their conversations on 23 January and expressed expectations that the Taliban will follow up on concerns put forward by the other Afghans. Participants also emphasized that the source of domestic legitimacy for any future government of Afghanistan will be the Afghan people themselves.

  9. Listened carefully and with concern to the assessments by the civil society actors of the present situation in Afghanistan, including the human rights environment (particularly women’s rights), as well as to descriptions of the grave economic and social challenges facing the country.

  10. Thanked Norway for its gracious hosting of these important meetings.