Norway, the Taliban, and the Afghan Situation

By Norwegian Ministry of Defence

In a press releases issued by the Norwegian government on January 21, 2022, the projected talks with the Taliban in Oslo were highlighted:

Norway has invited representatives of the Taliban to Oslo on 23–25 January 2022 for meetings with the Norwegian authorities and representatives of the international community, as well as with other Afghans from a range of fields within civil society.

‘We are extremely concerned about the grave situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing a full-blown humanitarian disaster. In order to be able to help the civilian population in Afghanistan, it is essential that both the international community and Afghans from various parts of society engage in dialogue with the Taliban. We will be clear about our expectations of the Taliban, particularly as regards girls’ education and human rights, such as women’s right to participate in society,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

In Oslo, the Taliban will meet representatives of the Norwegian authorities and officials from a number of allied countries. Meetings will also take place between the Taliban delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues.

‘These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

Afghanistan is contending with drought, a pandemic, an economic collapse and the effects of years of conflict. Some 24 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. Reports indicate that one million children could die of starvation. According to UN estimates, more than half of the population will be facing famine this winter, and 97 % of the population could fall below the poverty line this year.

Norway is continuing to pursue a dialogue with the Taliban in order to promote human rights and women’s participation in society, and to strengthen humanitarian and economic efforts in Afghanistan in support of the Afghan people. Earlier this week, a Norwegian delegation visited Kabul for talks on the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

‘Humanitarian assistance, while essential, is not enough. We must prevent a collapse in basic services such as health and education. We must support the livelihoods of families and communities. This could reduce the number of people needing humanitarian assistance,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

One of the key principles underpinning Norway’s peace and reconciliation efforts is the willingness to talk to all parties. Norway has been in dialogue with the Taliban for many years.

Credit Graphic: Bigstock

For Pierre Tran’s assessment of the challenge of dealing with the Afghan humanitarian crisis, see the following:

The Afghan Winter 2022 and Afghan Sanctions