The United Nations Human Rights Council announced on Tuesday it will hold a special session on Afghanistan on August 24 to address the “serious human rights concerns” following the Taliban takeover.
The meeting in Geneva is being convened following an official request jointly submitted by the representatives of Pakistan — coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation — and Afghanistan, the UN’s top rights body said in a statement.
The submission has been supported by 89 countries so far.
Calling a special session outside of the thrice-yearly regular meetings requires the backing of at least a third of the 47 members of the council — 16 states.
The request has thus far been supported by 29 of the 47, including Argentina, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Afghanistan’s neighbours Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
Several other countries have so far backed the move, including Algeria, Belgium, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.
The Taliban took effective control of Afghanistan on Sunday when president Ashraf Ghani fled and the insurgents walked into Kabul with no opposition.
It capped a staggeringly fast rout of Afghanistan’s major cities following two decades of war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
Tens of thousands of people have tried to flee the country to escape the hardline Islamist rule expected under the Taliban, or fearing direct retribution for siding with the US-backed government that ruled for the past two decades.
31st Special Session
The Human Rights Council meeting will be held in a hybrid virtual format due to Covid-19 measures, meaning the majority of interventions are expected to be delivered online. The meeting will be webcast live in the six UN languages.
The gathering will be the 31th extraordinary meeting of the UN’s top rights body since its creation 15 years ago.
The last special session, on May 27, was called to address the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, following deadly violence between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza.
The meeting triggered an open-ended commission of inquiry into “systematic” abuses in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and their “root causes” in the decades-long conflict.
A COI is the highest-level investigation the council can order.
The commissioners were mandated to get to the facts and circumstances surrounding violations and identify those responsible “with a view to ensuring that perpetrators of violations are held accountable”.