U.N. Security Council Resolution on the Taliban
Sanctions seek to avoid harm to Afghan people
Following is a fact sheet released December 11 by the U.S. State
Department on the new U.N. Security Council Resolution targeting the
Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE 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 resolution?
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
-- Demand the Taliban comply with Resolution 1267 and cease providing
training and support of international terrorists;
-- Insist the Taliban turn over indicted international terrorist Usama
bin Laden so he can be brought to justice;
-- Direct the Taliban to close all terrorist camps in Afghanistan
within 30 days.
Until the Taliban fully comply with their obligations under this
resolution and resolution 1267, the Security Council will:
-- Freeze the financial assets of Usama bin Laden;
-- Impose an arms embargo against the Taliban that includes, a
prohibition on providing military weapons, training, or advice;
-- Close all Taliban offices overseas;
-- Urge Member States to reduce the staff at the limited number of
Taliban missions abroad;
-- Advise 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
-- Ban the export to Afghan territory of a precursor chemical, acetic
anhydride, which is used to manufacture heroin;
-- Close 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
United States policy and the sanctions imposed against the Taliban by
the international community are in no way intended to harm the Afghan
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
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 Taliban.
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 account?
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.
-- Neither resolution prohibits trade and commerce by the private
sector, including the private-sector import of food and medicine.
-- Neither resolution prohibits humanitarian assistance to
-- Neither 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 abroad.
-- Hoechst 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.
-- Private 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
-- Afghan 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 government.
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 Afghanistan.
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 its goals.
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 Nations?
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
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
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
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
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
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.