Fact Sheet: U.N. Security Council Resolution on the Taliban
(Sanctions seek to avoid harm to Afghan people)
Fact Sheet: Questions and Answers About the New UNSC Resolution
Targeted at the Taliban
QUESTION: What sanctions against the
Taliban are proposed in the new United Nations Security Council
ANSWER: Because the Taliban have ignored
their obligations under UNSC Resolution 1267 (1999) and have continued to
threaten international peace and security, the new resolution calls for
the Security Council to:
the Taliban comply with Resolution 1267 and cease providing training
and support of international terrorists;
the Taliban turn over indicted international terrorist Usama bin
Laden so he can be brought to justice;
the Taliban to close all terrorist camps in Afghanistan within 30
Until the Taliban fully comply with their
obligations under this resolution and resolution 1267, the Security
the financial assets of Usama bin Laden;
an arms embargo against the Taliban that includes, a prohibition on
providing military weapons, training, or advice;
all Taliban offices overseas;
Member States to reduce the staff at the limited number of Taliban
Member States to restrict travel of top Taliban officials except for
the purposes of participation in peace negotiations, compliance with
the resolution, or for humanitarian reasons, including religious
the export to Afghan territory of a precursor chemical, acetic
anhydride, which is used to manufacture heroin;
all offices of Ariana Afghan Airlines and ban all non-humanitarian
assistance flights into and out of Afghanistan. Broad exemptions are
given to humanitarian flights operated by, or on behalf of,
non-governmental organizations and governmental relief agencies
proving humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
QUESTION: The United States was always a
good friend of Afghanistan, especially during the Soviet-Afghan War in
the 1980s. Why has the United States turned against Afghanistan?
ANSWER: This resolution is not against
Afghanistan. It is certainly not against the Afghan people. It is
narrowly targeted at the Taliban leadership. The United States opposes
the dangerous and destructive policies of the Taliban, but the United
States has not "turned against Afghanistan."
United States policy and the sanctions
imposed against the Taliban by the international community are in no way
intended to harm the Afghan people.
The United States remains deeply concerned
about the suffering of the Afghan people. During 2000, the United States
has provided the Afghan people about $113 million in humanitarian
assistance, through international agencies and nongovernmental
organizations. These funds provided food, shelter, land mine clearance,
sanitation, and emergency drought relief. The Taliban, on the other hand,
have failed to adequately address the needs of the Afghan people while at
the same time spending vast sums on military arms and equipment to pursue
a military option that will never bring lasting peace to Afghanistan.
QUESTION: In addition to the devastating
effects of two decades of war, Afghans are suffering the worst drought in
a generation. Won't this new resolution simply impose further suffering
on the Afghan people?
ANSWER: No, it will not. We have carefully
examined the humanitarian impact of UNSCR 1267, which has been in place
for one year, and have found no significant humanitarian disruptions for
the people of Afghanistan. We have studied the potential humanitarian
impact of the sanctions in the new resolution and, again, have concluded
that the humanitarian impact would be minimal. If, in fact, there is a
negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, we believe
that the Taliban will cause it by rousing anger among the population
against the United Nations and non-governmental organization that provide
humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.
The new UNSC resolution is targeted at the
Taliban leadership, not at the Afghan people. International agencies and
nongovernmental organizations provide crucial food, medical, and other
assistance to the people of Afghanistan. For the sake of the Afghan
people especially vulnerable women and children the humanitarian-aid
providers need to keep working. They will stop only if the Taliban cause
them to stop.
The international community holds the
Taliban responsible for providing adequate security to these humanitarian
relief workers, and calls on the Taliban leadership to stop their
inflammatory disinformation campaign that the United Nations and the
international community seek to harm the people of Afghanistan with
sanctions. This is a cynical and calculated lie on the part of the
This Taliban disinformation could lead to
violence against aid providers. If the Taliban create a situation that
causes humanitarian international organizations to evacuate their
personnel from Afghanistan, we believe that the Afghan people themselves
will hold the Taliban responsible for such a negative development.
QUESTION: Some leaders of humanitarian
organizations have recently told reporters that sanctions harm the
ordinary people of Afghanistan. Should we not take their views into
ANSWER: We do respect their views. But we also
believe it is important to understand that we will hold the Taliban
responsible for any negative developments on the humanitarian front.
Further, we believe it is important to understand how the Taliban are
orchestrating their disinformation campaign and that there are facts,
some from the Taliban themselves, that contradict their lies.
We repeat that the international community
has no dispute with the people of Afghanistan and is keenly aware of
their suffering. For this reason, the sanctions in both resolutions have
been carefully written to ensure that they have a minimum impact on the
Afghan people as opposed to the Taliban leadership.
resolution prohibits trade and commerce by the private sector,
including the private-sector import of food and medicine.
resolution prohibits humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
resolution prohibits Afghans from traveling for urgent humanitarian
reasons or to fulfill their religious obligations such as hajj,
including on Ariana Afghan Airline flights which the UN Sanctions
Committee has the authority to approve. Furthermore, the new
resolution does not prevent ordinary Afghans from traveling for any
Soon after UNSCR 1267 came into effect in
December 1999, the official Taliban media complained that the Afghan
people would suffer because all mail was flown into and out of the
country on Ariana Afghan Airlines, and Afghans would not be able to
receive financial remittances and gift packages from abroad. Yet, on
October 8, 2000, the Deputy Head of the Post Department, Ministry of
Communications announced in Kabul that all mail was flowing normally via
land transport to Pakistan and Iran.
On October 15, the Ministry of Public
Health in Kabul complained to the Afghan news agency, Bakhtar, that UNSCR
1267 had led to a serious decline in public health in Afghanistan because
Ariana Afghan Airlines is not able to fly in supplies for producing
medicines at the Hoechst pharmaceutical factory, and because doctors and
students are unable to fly to medical conferences and training seminars
ceased its operations in Afghanistan in December 1999 and has no
operations, personnel, or representatives in Afghanistan. According
to a Hoechst company spokesperson, this was a business decision and
not because of UN sanctions.
traders and humanitarian organizations can and do freely import
medicine into Afghanistan. Private-sector imports arrive overland
from Pakistan and Iran Humanitarian organizations have full
exemption to fly medicine and other health-care supplies into
doctors and students are free to travel by land to cities outside
Afghanistan where they can board flights for foreign conferences and
training, if they have the normal passports and visas required of
all international travelers.
QUESTION: Why is the military embargo only
against the Taliban? Why not a comprehensive arms embargo against all
parties conducting warfare in Afghanistan?
ANSWER: UNSC Resolution 1267 and the new
resolution are targeted against the Taliban because they support
terrorism and provide sanctuary to Usama bin Laden. They pose a threat to
peace and security in the region and elsewhere in the world. The Taliban
provide arms and weapons to train and equip international terrorists.
Military action will not bring peace to
Afghanistan and relieve the suffering of the Afghan people. Military
success is not the path for the Taliban or any other faction to gain
international acceptance and assistance in rebuilding the country. The
only way to end the conflict is through a political process of dialogue
among all Afghans that will result in a tolerant and broad-based
The purpose of a comprehensive military
embargo against the Taliban is to ensure that the Taliban understand the
international community's conviction that negotiations must replace
warfare in Afghanistan so that a broadly representative government can be
established, and so that Afghanistan can begin its critically needed
rehabilitation. We have every intention to continue to press the other
factions involved in military action in Afghanistan to join with all
other Afghans to seek a peaceful, political resolution.
QUESTION: United Nations Secretary General
Annan's personal envoy to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, has been
working to broker a cease-fire and develop a peace process between the
Taliban and the opposition forces led by Ahmed Shah Masood. Won't the new
resolutions make his task all the harder?
ANSWER: We see no reason why sanctions
against the Taliban leadership because of their support for terrorism
should interfere with Ambassador Vendrell's peace efforts. The peace
process and the sanctions are two different tracks. The sanctions against
the Taliban leadership are essential because they threaten international
and regional peace and security.
It is more apparent than ever that the
peace that the Afghan people so desperately need cannot be attained
through military action. We are deeply concerned that continued fighting
in Afghanistan will lead to more civilian casualties and reprisals
against civilians. Only a durable peace can end the cycle of violence in
Therefore, we welcome Ambassador Vendrell's
efforts to bring the parties together to negotiate a peaceful resolution
and wish him success in his important mission.
QUESTION: Is it not true that the U.S. has
colluded with Russia and India to back the leader of the United Islamic
Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (UIFSA), Ahmed Shah Masood?
ANSWER: This is not true. The United States
firmly believes that no faction on its own can bring peace and
successfully govern Afghanistan. As long as one faction attempts to
impose its will on the nation by force, it will face armed resistance to
The United States does not arm or equip any
side in the Afghan conflict. We restrict our assistance to humanitarian
aid, of which we are the largest single donor.
QUESTION: If the Taliban decisively defeat
UIFSA leader Masood and warfare ceases in Afghanistan, will the U.S. and
other countries recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of
Afghanistan, and will the Taliban gain Afghanistan's seat in the United
ANSWER: Although unlikely, a Taliban
military defeat of UIFSA leader Masood will not lead to peace in
Afghanistan. Military successes do not mean that the Taliban will gain
either international acceptance or domestic stability. Armed resistance
will continue because Afghans will not accept the foreign-influenced
Taliban as legitimate rulers in Afghanistan. A more broadly based and traditionally
tolerant alternative must be adopted.
Furthermore, international recognition and
a seat in the United Nations are not dependent simply on military victory
by one faction over another. A legitimate governing body gains respect
and recognition by adhering to international norms, by performing the
functions of a government, and by gaining the consent of the people it
seeks to govern.
The Taliban must take action to stop
Afghanistan from being a safe-haven and breeding ground for international
terrorists; make significant progress on curbing the massive production
and trafficking of narcotics; improve human rights for all citizens of
Afghanistan, including women, girls, and members of religious minorities;
and demonstrate that they enjoy the support of the Afghan people. If they
do not, the Taliban have no hope of being recognized internationally as
the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: The mass media in Pakistan and
elsewhere in the region are full of speculation about a pending U.S. military
strike against the Taliban and Usama bin Laden. Will the United States
take military action against the Taliban if they do not comply with the
new UNSC resolution?
ANSWER: The resolution has no measure
calling for military action. The Taliban continue to maintain that they
have forbidden Usama bin Laden to interfere with any other country. They
also claim that they have taken away his means of communication and that,
although he is their "guest," bin Laden is virtually under
house arrest in Afghanistan.
This is not true. He and others in his
organization continue actively to plan terrorist acts against the United
States and other countries. We have not yet concluded who was responsible
for the recent attack in the Port of Aden in Yemen against the USS Cole.
However, the investigation continues. As United States senior officials
have said repeatedly, we do not rule out any option if the investigation
into the USS Cole incident links bin Laden to this crime.
QUESTION: If the Taliban comply with the
UNSC resolutions and hand over bin Laden to a place where he can be
brought to justice, won't the U.S. find other reasons to keep the
sanctions in place?
ANSWER: Both UNSCR 1267 and the new
resolution clearly state conditions that must be met. If the Taliban appear
to have met the conditions, the United States would work to see that the
sanctions were lifted promptly.
QUESTION: Is not this new UNSC resolution
really targeted against Pakistan as much as it is against the Taliban?
ANSWER: No, this is not true. The new
resolution is targeted against all countries that provide war materiel
and military advisers and trainers to the Taliban.
QUESTION: Is it not true that Pakistan is
the largest single military supporter of the Taliban?
ANSWER: Pakistan's public foreign policy
has for years called for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. The
international community urges Pakistan to take the necessary actions to
bring that policy to fruition.
QUESTION: This new Resolution contains
language about narcotics. The Taliban have stated that they plan to
reduce poppy cultivation significantly in Afghanistan and have called on
the international community for assistance to reach this goal. Don't you
believe them? Would it not be better to work with the Taliban, when they
have stated their good intentions, rather than to punish them further?
ANSWER: Good intentions, plans, and a few
demonstration projects for the benefit of international journalists,
diplomats, and other observers do not prove a fundamental change in
policy. However, if the Taliban, and other Afghan groups, prove by their
deeds that they are making serious effort to control the rivers of
narcotics flowing out of Afghanistan, then the international community
should indeed take notice and find ways to cooperate with those Afghans.
QUESTION: Pakistan has repeatedly said that
the best way to moderate the worst tendencies of the Taliban over the
long term is to engage with them. Won't the prohibition of travel by
Taliban officials prevent their exposure to moderating voices and
experiences elsewhere in the world?
ANSWER: The new UNSC resolution does not
prohibit senior Taliban officials from having contact with the rest of
the world. The resolution specifically allows the UN Sanctions Committee
to make case-by-case exemptions for senior Taliban officials to travel to
promote compliance with UNSC resolutions, for discussions of a peaceful
resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan, for verified humanitarian
purposes, and for fulfilling religious obligations such as hajj.
QUESTION: All this pressure against the
Taliban -- is it not really because the non-Muslim world is scared of the
Taliban because they claim that they represent true Islam? Is not the
West scared of the international resurgence of Islam? Does not the West
oppose the Muslim ummah?
ANSWER: This is absolutely not true. By
their actions in the United Nations and in the Organization of the
Islamic Conference, it is clear that the great majority of Muslim
countries do not accept the Taliban's sectarian and culturally-based
interpretation of Islam. The Taliban have a radical political agenda.
They use Islam to justify that agenda.
The United States and other
non-Muslim-majority countries have no quarrel with Islam. We have a
quarrel with the Taliban who use Islam to justify their illegal and
dishonorable actions and policies.