UN committee to review Taliban credential issue to meet in November

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The UN Credentials Committee that will review the Taliban’s communication in which it nominated Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s envoy to the UN is expected to meet next month, with the General Assembly president saying the entire 193-nation strong membership will decide on the matter once the committee submits its findings on who should sit at Kabul’s seat in the world body.

Myanmar and Afghanistan were the only two countries out of the 193-nation strong General Assembly membership that did not speak at the just-concluded high-level UNGA week.

“Yes, I am in touch with the (Credentials) Committee. Sweden is the chair of the committee. I have communicated the correspondences to the committee chair. Usually, the committee meets in November, brings the report to the General Assembly in December for adoption and I am sure that Sweden will keep to the credentials schedule,” President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid said in his first press conference here on Friday.

Shahid was responding to a question on whether he is in contact with the members of the Credentials Committee on the issue of representation of Myanmar and Afghanistan at the UN.

Initially, Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative appointed by the ousted Ashraf Ghani-government, Ghulam Isaczai, was listed to speak for the country on the final day of the General Debate on September 27.

However, Isaczai withdrew his participation.

The Taliban had written to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres nominating their spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s ambassador to the UN and had asked to participate in the high-level 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

Following the February 1 coup in Myanmar, its military rulers have said the country’s Ambassador at UN Kyaw Moe Tun has been dismissed and they want Aung Thurein to replace him.

The matter of who represents the two countries at the UN has now gone to the Credentials Committee, currently being chaired by Sweden and with the US, China, Russia, Bahamas, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Bhutan and Chile as members.

Shahid said the Credentials Committee will consider the matters on its agenda and they will submit the report, as other committees do, to the General Assembly.

“Of course, the General Assembly as the universal body makes a decision. So it will be the 193 countries who will decide,” he said, adding that the Committee will review and submit its findings and then the entire 193 member countries “will have the opportunity to decide.”

This has been the past practice and it’s been done many many times.

Shahid further said whenever the UN receives “conflicting” credentials communications, they are referred to the Committee.

Sweden, as chair, will do the consultations and then a report is expected to be submitted to the General Assembly in December.

“So I’m waiting for the chair to convene the meeting,” he said, adding that the “final decision” on the credentials will be made by the General Assembly and then communicated to the administration “whichever way the General Assembly decides”.

Shahid also specified that apart from the letter from the Taliban last month, no other communication has been received from the group.

On September 20, on the eve of the commencement of the high-level UN General Debate, the Secretary-General had received a communication with the letterhead “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs” dated September 20, 2021, signed by “Ameer Khan Muttaqi” as “Minister of Foreign Affairs”, requesting to participate in the “76th session of the UN General Assembly on September 21-27, 2021”.

Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, had told PTI that the letter also indicates that as of August 15, 2021, “Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is ousted and [countries across the world] no longer recognise him as president.”

Ghani, who had fled the country as the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, had appointed Isaczai as Kabul’s envoy to the UN in June 2021.

The Taliban letter further indicates that the mission of the Permanent Representative is considered over and that Isaczai no longer represents Afghanistan.

The Taliban have nominated the Doha-based spokesman Shaheen as Afghanistan’s new Permanent Representative to the UN.

“A new Permanent Representative, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, is nominated,” according to the Taliban letter.

On September 15, the Secretary-General had also received a communication from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations signed by Isaczai, containing the list of delegation of Afghanistan for the 76th session of the General Assembly.

Isaczai was listed as the head of delegation.

The two communications have been sent by the UN Secretariat, after consultation with the Office of the President of the General Assembly, to the members of the Credentials Committee of the 76th session of the General Assembly.

The Committee reports to the Assembly on the credentials of representatives of the UN Member States.

Afghanistan had joined the UN on November 19, 1946 and Myanmar has been a UN member since April 19, 1948.

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