At the UN, an armchair for two Afghan ambassadors

Five days apart, as a prelude to the opening, Tuesday, September 21, of the UN General Assembly, which brings together the leaders of its 193 member countries, the services of the Secretary General of the United Nations have received two letters presentation of different delegations for Afghanistan. In accordance with the protocol, accredited diplomatic missions based in New York must, in fact, send the complete list of ministers and diplomats who will come to represent them. But, in the present case, two distinct claims have indeed been addressed.

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The first letter, received on September 15, announces that Ghulam Isaczai, the ambassador appointed by the former Afghan government ousted on August 15, will be the head of the delegation. He signed the letter himself. On September 20, a second letter, this time on letterhead, from the Foreign Ministry of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, reached Antonio Guterres, in which Amir Khan Muttaqi, the head of Taliban diplomacy , claims the place for the new masters of Kabul at the annual rulers’ rally. He also specifies that a new ambassador to the UN has been appointed: Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban based in Doha.

The correspondence does not say whether the Taliban foreign minister wishes to come in person, or send a video message – a waiver allowed this year because of the pandemic. But, in the corridors of the UN, diplomats, most of whose governments have not yet recognized the cabinet set up by the Taliban, do not consider it appropriate to leave him an open microphone.

“The United Nations General Assembly is not the appropriate framework for this, said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. We have to talk with the Taliban, but there are multiple channels that have been put in place in recent weeks. “ For him, a “Show” Taliban would add nothing to the ongoing negotiations.

The United Nations has its back round

The priority at the UN is to get the Taliban to accept respect for women’s rights and to commit to letting those who want to go. Even the five permanent members of the Security Council, yet so prone to dissension, share, for the moment, a common vision on Afghanistan, as they affirmed, Thursday, September 23, at the end of a meeting. behind closed doors of the five heads of diplomacy.

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The secretariat forwarded the two competing Afghan requests to the Credentials Committee, which issues accreditations but only meets sporadically. “There is no way this will be decided before the end of the week”, said an observer. “It’s a very complicated process”, assures another. According to UN regulations, Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai, whose credentials have no end of validity, is still the representative of Afghanistan.

The fact remains that this double candidacy for the seat of ambassador will certainly remain in the air for at least several months – if indeed it is decided one day. It is precisely in this case, a seizure of power by authoritarian regimes, that diplomats do not blame the complexity of the procedures at the United Nations, so often called into question elsewhere.

When the Taliban were in power between 1996 and 2001, the ambassador of the ousted government kept his seat in the organization, and the Taliban had never been able to set foot there.

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