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Afghanistan: States' Positions

Below are key points to reflect States’ positions based on their statements during an enhanced interactive dialogue on Afghanistan, which took place during the Human Rights Council’s 56th session on 18 June 2024. Full statements can be found here.

Photo by UN Afghanistan


States echoed concerns expressed by the panelists and in the report of the Special Rapporteur, Richard Bennett. Those mainly included the Taliban's systematic gender oppression, which may amount to crimes against humanity, and concerns for the dehumanization of women and girls. Statements focused on five human rights highlighted by the Special Rapporteur, including education, employment, freedom of movement, health and access to the justice system. Concerns were also expressed about violence, torture and mass public floggings, as well as the suppression of dissent.

Specific calls for action included reversing discriminatory policies, ensuring women's participation in all political processes, and providing humanitarian aid.

List of speakers

States speaking included: The Nordic-Baltic Countries, CANZ, the EU, the OIC, Liechtenstein, Chile, Kuwait, the UAE, Türkiye, Ireland, Japan, Iran, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Israel, Spain, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Qatar, Czechia, Republic of Korea, Italy, China, the US, Costa Rica, Russia, Malta, Malaysia, Pakistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Austria, Switzerland, the UK, Ghana, Romania, Venezuela, South Africa, India, Malawi, Montenegro, Mexico, Ukraine, the Dominican Republic and France.

Use of the term "Gender Apartheid"

The phrase was used by Luxembourg (calling for its codification, as it best defines the Taliban governance), Israel, Italy and Costa Rica. South Africa opposed its use (stating that the term risks diluting the significance of this heinous crime against humanity [Apartheid]).

Expressions of concern

Many States used strong expressions of concerns. It may be worth noting a few examples:

  • The UAE: Condemned the decision to ban girls’ education.

  • Bulgaria: Outraged by the curtailment of women's right to work, their severely restricted freedom of movement, constrained access to healthcare and medical treatment and limited ability to avoid violence, to seek justice and hold perpetrators of violence accountable.

  • Romania: Shocked by the level of increasing disregard of the de facto authorities towards women and girls, including outrageous edicts.

  • South Africa: Debilitating architecture of oppression.

  • Malawi: Profound alarm, deeply troubled by heightened risk of forced marriage, domestic violence and psychological distress.

  • Ukraine: Inhuman ideology and a horrific reality.


In contrast, the OIC merely expressed disappointment over the restrictions.


The OIC called not to miss historical and other contexts, with Russia and Venezuela naming the US. In contrast, Mexico said historical, cultural or religious differences cannot be used as justification in order to prevent groups of the population from enjoying rights for all people in society. Türkiye noted: Our President explicitly and publicly said that denying girls their right to education is neither humane nor Islamic. Similarly, Indonesia underscored the absence of religious justification for the education ban. 

China and Venezuela offered praise to the Taliban in some areas, while calling to promote human rights.


Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela expressed concerns about sanctions.

Specific groups

A number of States referred to specific groups:

  • LGBTQIA+ people: CANZ, the EU, Ireland, the US, Ukraine; The OIC regretted the dwelling of the Special Rapporteur’s report on certain divisive and controversial themes, including references which were “both unwarranted and unhelpful.” [The Special Rapporteur referred to reports from survivors of attacks or threats because of their sexual orientation or gender identity].

  • Religious and ethnic minorities: CANZ, the EU, Kuwait, Ireland, Germany, Italy, China, the US, Russia, the UK, Ghana, India, Ukraine.

  • Persons with disabilities: Ireland, Ukraine.

  • Children: Liechtenstein, Kuwait, Italy, China, India.

  • Human rights defenders: Germany, Malta, Albania, France.

  • Media workers including journalists: Germany, Indonesia.

Criticism on the report

Some aspects of the Special Rapporteur’s report were criticized by the OIC, hinting concern about its reference to LGBTQIA+ people, and Russia, due to lack of attention to US responsibility and sanctions.

Calls for dialogue or against normalization 

A number of States called for dialogue or noted their direct contact with the Taliban, often with reference to including dialogue on human rights: Türkiye, Japan, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Venezuela and India. Türkiye said dialogue should be based on Security Council Resolution 2721 and the Afghanistan Independent Assessment [see HRLO’s human rights-focused analysis]).

Romania called to avoid any legitimization of the de facto authorities under current conditions. The full and equal participation of all women and girls in the Afghan society and the protection from violence and any form of discrimination in any circumstances must be the first prerequisite for any step of the international community taken towards a normalization of the relations with the Taliban authorities, it said.


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