What is the role of UNSCR 2513 in the Afghan peace process?
By accepting UNSC Resolution 2513 as one of the four pillars of the future negotiations with the Afghan delegation, the Taliban have sought to highlight the international community's capacity to advance the peace process in Afghanistan as well as emphasize the necessity of adhering to the provisions of the Doha agreement. On the other hand, the Trump administration, despite all its efforts, failed to achieve its main aspirations in Afghanistan. The disagreements between the State Department and the White House on one side and the Pentagon and the CIA on the other, as well as the Democratic Party’s opposition to Trump's actions in Afghanistan, prevented Trump from sending the Doha agreement to the US legislation entities. The Taliban leaders know that with Biden in the White House, the Doha agreement is likely to lose its intrinsic value. So, this has made them to go after using the capacities of the international community to advance the peace process.
By: Seyyed Mostafa Hashemi
Following a series of meetings between the Taliban delegation and the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar, the two sides finally decided to consider the UNSCR 2513, the Doha agreement, the views of the warring sides and The will of the Afghan people (which likely refers to the Loya Jirga) as the basis for the future negotiations.
Meanwhile, there are several questions which are important to answer in a bid to understand the complexity of the negotiations. The first question is what are the characteristics of the UNSCR 2513 that have made it important for the two negotiating sides?
Another issue is that in the Sunni political thoughts, legitimacy is based on two pillars: the textoftheHolyQur’an or forceful seizure of power. Given this fact, this question comes to mind that why the Taliban have agreed to “the will of the Afghan people” as one of the four basis of the negotiations. Is this a strategic action or just a tactical measure that has taken place only at this stage of the talks?
To find that why the above four basis have been cited by the negotiating sides, especially since the Taliban has agreed to accept the UNSCR 2513 as one of the pillars, it is better to first take a brief look at the most important provisions of this resolution.
The UNSCR 2513 was approved by majority of Security Council members on March 10, 2020. The resolution emphasizes the important role of the United Nations in Afghanistan's mission, and introduces UNAMA as the body’s representative to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. Emphasis on the Sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, preservation of national unity of Afghanistan, paying attention to the will of the Afghan people to end the conflict, and providing the necessary conditions for a sustainable peace and stability in the country through intra-Afghan talks were among other issues mentioned in the resolution. The resolution also praised de-escalation of violence between the Taliban and US forces and their agreement to continue the political path to resolve the remaining disputes. It further encouraged the Afghan government to pave the way for the continuation of peace talks and the reduction of violence.
Another significant point is the Security Council's positive reaction to the Taliban's commitment to prevent other terrorist groups, especially al-Qaeda, from using Afghanistan’s territory against the interests of other countries. In another provision, it is noted that the United Nations does not recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. However, the United Nations encourages the regional countries and other countries to help the Afghan parties to achieve a lasting peace, and paving the country’s way towards peace and ceasefire by offering political solutions. In another article of the resolution, the Security Council urges the Afghan parties to use all the political means to resolve the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
The resolution also emphasizes the importance role of women, youth, and minority groups in the negotiations. In another article, the members of the Security Council strongly urge the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to participate in negotiations with an inclusive and diverse team consisting of all the Afghan political leaders and civil society activists, especially women. They also called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to prepare the ground for the success of the intra-Afghan talks through a series of confidence-building measures. An urgent de-escalation, reduction of civilian casualties, release of prisoners, and trying to reach a comprehensive ceasefire are among the measures outlined in the resolution. Moreover, all countries are urged to do their best to ensure the success of the intra-Afghan talks.
The abovementioned points were a summary of the most important issues approved by all the 15 members of the UN Security Council in Resolution 2513. If we look at the date of the resolution, which is March 10, 2020, it becomes clear that the Security Council has somehow tried to formally recognize the US-Taliban peace agreement via approving this resolution. This resolution is an exceptional opportunity for the Taliban.
While prior to the passage of the UNSCR 2513 all the Security Council resolutions were against the Taliban and considered the group as an existential threat to peace, the Resolution 2513 not only no longer considers the Taliban as a threat, but also encourages other countries to enter an effective cooperation with the group to achieve a sustainable peace. Unlike the previous resolutions, the new resolution also made numerous concessions to the Taliban.
Since the full version of the US-Taliban peace agreement has not been published, the Taliban have accepted the UNSCR 2513 as one of the four pillars of the forthcoming talks with the Afghan delegation to show the necessity of adhering to the provisions of the Doha agreement and also emphasize the capacity of the international community to advance the peace process in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Trump administration, despite all its efforts, failed to achieve its main goals in Afghanistan. Disagreements between the State Department and the White House on one side and the Pentagon and the CIA on the other, as well as the Democratic Party’s opposition to Trump's actions in Afghanistan, prevented Trump from presenting the Doha agreement to the US legislation entities. The Taliban leaders know that with Biden in the White House, the Doha agreement is likely to lose its intrinsic value. So, this has made them to go after using the capacities of the international community to advance the peace process in Afghanistan.
One of the issues that should not be overlooked is the resolution’s emphasis on the role of the Afghan political groups and movements, especially women and youth. This emphasis is an issue that targets the decision-making process of the power institutions in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. While Ashraf Ghani has sought to downplay the role of the High Peace Council in the decision-making cycle through time-wasting policies, the new resolution will put a great pressure, both internationally and internally, on him to speed up the work of the High Peace Council and give it a direct role in decision-making.
Ashraf Ghani’s opposition to the decisions made by his own delegation during the Doha talks and his decision to summon Masoom Stanekzai to Kabul can be interpreted as if Acceptance of the resolution by Kabul delegation would reduce Ghani’s influence over the future negotiations with the Taliban.
To answer the second question, it must be noted that the Taliban has realized the existing sensitivities through monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and the international system. Although many experts have predicted the emergence of neo-Talibanism in Afghanistan, given the group's ideological roots, it is unlikely to see a profound change in the group's political thoughts. The Taliban are still insisting on implementation of the Sharia law, the revival of the Islamic Emirate, and the necessity of changing the constitution based on the rules of Islam. It seems that the Taliban have come to the conclusion that Trump's defeat in the US election may change the situation and nullify the countless opportunities that Trump and Khalilzad had provided for them. Thus, by agreeing to such a condition, the group has tried to tactically prevent the loss of opportunities and pave their own way towards power.
In fact, the background of the Taliban government in Afghanistan during the last years of the 20th century and its severe crackdown on the Afghan people, especially women and children, has created an ugly image of them. Therefore, the Taliban need to paint a different picture of themselves at this stage of the negotiations.
Ignoring the view and role of the people can be the Achilles' heel of the Taliban in their path towards power. The Taliban are aware that the Afghan government is trying to portray the group as violent and anti-people and to nullify the group's recent success. Hence, the group is trying to portray itself as a popular figure in order to thwart the Afghan government's plan and also gain the support of regional countries and the international community to stay in power in Afghanistan.
Seyyed Mostafa Hashemi, is PhD in geopolitics and regional affairs expert