UNSC adopts Afghanistan resolution, but no ‘safe zone’

United Nations: The UN Security Council adopted a resolution Monday requiring the Taliban to honor their commitment to let people freely leave Afghanistan, but the measure did not cite a “safe zone” mentioned by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The resolution -- drafted by the United States, Britain and France - was passed with 13 votes in favor and no objections. China and Russia abstained.

The resolution says the council expects the Taliban to allow a “safe, secure, and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all foreign nationals.”

It refers to an August 27 statement by the Taliban in which the hardliners said Afghans would be able to travel abroad, and leave Afghanistan any time they want to, including by any border crossing, both air and ground.

The Security Council “expects that the Taliban will adhere to these and all other commitments,” the resolution says.

Macron had raised hopes of more concrete proposals in comments published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche over the weekend.

He said Paris and London would present a draft resolution which “aims to define, under UN control, a ‘safe zone’ in Kabul, that will allow humanitarian operations to continue,” Macron said.

“I am very hopeful that it will be successful. I don’t see who could be against making humanitarian projects secure,” he said.

But the UN resolution is far less ambitious. It is not clear whether another resolution proposing a “safe zone” will be circulated later on.

“This resolution is not an operational aspect. It’s much more on principles, key political messages and warnings,” a UN diplomat told reporters.

Richard Gowan, UN expert at the International Crisis Group, said the resolution “does at least send a political signal to the Taliban about the need to keep the airport open and help the UN deliver aid,” but is “a pretty thin text.”

“Macron was guilty of overselling the idea of a safe zone at Kabul airport this weekend, or at least not communicating very clearly,” he told AFP.

Despite those criticisms, the French foreign ministry said that Paris “welcomes the adoption of the resolution. We got what we asked for, which was for the airport to be a safe place for those who want to leave Kabul.”

“We regret the Russian and Chinese abstention, but will work with each to ensure the council’s decision is implemented,” the French statement added. - AFP