Afghanistan’s security implications in focus at OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Autumn Meeting

041121 Conference MC headshotMargareta Cederfelt, 4 November 2021COPENHAGEN, 4 November 2021 – Held in an online format, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 19th Autumn Meeting concluded this afternoon with a debate on “Current Security Challenges: Focus on Afghanistan.” More than 30 parliamentarians from across the OSCE area took part in today’s Parliamentary Conference and offered their perspectives on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and its implications for the OSCE region following the Taliban’s takeover in August.

Introducing the debate, OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) noted that what happens in Afghanistan has major implications for neighbouring countries, as well as for international security in general. “The security threats emanating from this instability are multiple,” she said. “With the cold winter months, we can expect the humanitarian crisis to worsen, leading to hunger, pushing many more Afghans to flee their country.”

She also noted that given the Taliban’s history, there are serious concerns that Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for terrorist groups and the hard-won rights of women and girls will be revoked. “It is essential that human security be protected by safeguarding the fundamental rights of all Afghans,” she said, noting that these are all issues for which the OSCE has a solid acquis.

041121 Autumn Meeting Tuula YrjöläTuula Yrjölä, 4 November 2021Ambassador Tuula Yrjölä, Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre (CPC), addressed the PA Members, stating that the OSCE should support participating States in mitigating the impacts of the evolving situation. “For the OSCE to be smart and responsive to the complex challenges emanating from Afghanistan, we are going to need to think outside of our traditional geographic or technical mandates,” she said. “We will need to model internally the type of co-operation, learning and problem solving that all stakeholders will need to adopt in order to remain fit for purpose in this fast-changing environment.”

Chair of the OSCE PA’s Committee on Political Affairs and Security Richard Hudson (United States) pointed out that the current circumstances are certain to have ripple effects on the security of OSCE participating States for years to come. Perhaps most alarming, he said, is the return of an international terrorist threat from Afghanistan. “Even if we can somehow convince ourselves that the Taliban might not itself pose a direct threat to our countries, there is a real question of their capacity or will to counter groups active in Afghanistan who have a track record of seeking to attack our citizens,” Hudson said.

Pere Joan Pons (Spain), Chair of the OSCE PA’s Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, noted that the most immediate effect of the Taliban’s takeover is the humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of civilians evacuated, and many families separated. The economic situation is also dramatic, Pons said. Following years of severe draughts that plagued local agricultural production, the recent sharp reductions in international aid caused the collapse of basic health and education services. He also noted that human-induced climate change has magnified the crisis, imploring governments meeting in Glasgow for the COP26 to advance climate commitments in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

French parliamentarian Sereine Mauborgne, Chair of the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, called the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan a wake-up call. The Parliamentary Assembly has already stressed the need for co-operation with neighboring countries of Afghanistan, but there is still an urgent need to work on issues such as human rights and ensuring humanitarian access.

In the debate, parliamentarians raised concerns about the human rights situation, in particular the threat posed to female parliamentarians, and more generally to women, girls and LGBT+ communities, and noted the dangers posed by radicalization. The speed with which the Afghan government collapsed was astonishing, it was pointed out, and one of the main factors identified in the rapid collapse was corruption, which should therefore be understood as a security issue. This underscores the need for redoubling efforts at developing the rule of law throughout the OSCE area, it was stressed.

Earlier in the day, the OSCE PA held the Mediterranean Forum and on Wednesday, the Standing Committee met.

Video of today’s Parliamentary Conference is available here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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