US-Europe Joint Statement on Afghanistan, January 26, 2022 – Afghanistan

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

Special Envoys and Special Representatives:

  1. Focused on the urgency of addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and highlighted the steps needed to help alleviate the suffering of Afghans across the country. Participants acknowledged the steps taken to facilitate access for humanitarian workers, both men and women, while expressing their concern that certain obstacles persist, and participants also reiterated the importance of rapidly removing all conditions and all obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid.

  2. Stressed the importance of respect for human rights and the imperative 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 in human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions (including recent detentions of women’s rights activists), enforced disappearances, media repression, extrajudicial executions, torture and the banning of education for women and girls, employment and the freedom to travel without a male escort.

  4. Noted with deep concern the lack of secondary schools for girls and the limitations of access to them in many parts of the country and stressed the importance of higher education for women as well as opportunities employment for women in all fields. Welcomed the Taliban’s public promises that all women and girls will be able to access schools at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) when schools reopen across the country in March, but stressed the need for practical preparations , budgetary and technical to make this a reality.

  5. We reaffirmed that we expect the Taliban to respect their commitments in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

  6. Noted that our governments are expanding relief operations, helping to prevent the collapse of social services and supporting the revival of the Afghan economy. Participants noted the importance of increasing liquidity and support to the banking sector to help stabilize the Afghan economy. Participants also insisted on the development of a transparent and robust strategy to restore confidence in the financial sector.

  7. Clarified that their meetings with the Taliban did not in any way imply a sense of official recognition or legitimization of the interim government announced by the Taliban in September 2021.

  8. Welcomed updates from women and civil society actors and Taliban representatives on the status of their conversations on 23 January and expressed hope that the Taliban will act on the concerns expressed by other Afghans. Participants also stressed that the source of national legitimacy for any future Afghan government will be the Afghan people themselves.

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

  10. Thanked Norway for kindly hosting these important meetings.

Mary I. Bruner