The United Nations is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to consider whether the Taliban should be allowed to join the international body and serve as war-torn Afghanistan's official representative at Turtle Bay.
The United Nations Credentials Committee will meet to consider who will represent Afghanistan and Myanmar, which experienced its own military coup in February and has been beset by violence since. Ghulam Isaczai, the former Afghan government's U.N. representative prior to the Taliban's takeover of the country, is still serving in his role, but the Taliban has chosen its own representative, Suhail Shaheen, to replace him.
The Taliban has been vying for a seat at the United Nations after it deposed the former democratic government following the Biden administration's bungled military withdrawal from the country, which left hundreds of Americans stranded. If granted a seat, the Taliban will inherit Afghanistan's current seat on the U.N. women's rights commission, which is likely to rankle opponents of the terrorist group's admission. Former U.S. officials say a Taliban representative at the international body would further subvert its commitment to human rights and show the globe that terrorism is an effective tool in international diplomacy.
The Taliban said it hopes to use its seat at the United Nations to address the world about its recent takeover of Afghanistan. The terrorist group, if admitted, would likely act as an ally to other rogue regimes that caucus at the United Nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela, among others. A rejection might agitate the Taliban and potentially interfere with ongoing diplomatic talks between it and the United States. An admission would also signal to other global terrorism organizations, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, that if they violently overthrow a government, they could earn a spot at the world's foremost human rights group.
While the Biden administration has not formally recognized the Taliban government in Kabul, it has been working with the terrorist organization to ensure Americans still trapped in the country can come home. Russia and China have been more willing to back the Taliban, but neither has formally recognized the terrorist group. The United States, China, and Russia play an outsized role in the credentials committee, and their votes will likely be critical to deciding the Taliban's fate at the United Nations, at least in the short term.
Nikki Haley, the Trump administration's former ambassador to the United Nations, told the Washington Free Beacon that the Taliban has no place at an organization committed to global freedom and peace.
"Under no circumstance should the United States, or any other country, vote to recognize the Taliban at the United Nations," Haley said. "It should not be a difficult decision to keep a group of terrorists out of an organization founded to maintain peace and security."
Shaheen, the Taliban's chosen representative to the United Nations, reportedly said last week the group is counting on Russia to support its bid.
"We had and currently have good relations with the Russian Federation, and we are expecting them to support the new government that has been formed in the result of our struggle for liberation of Afghanistan," Shaheen said. "We expect Russia and other countries will support us at the Credentials Committee of the United Nations, because this is good for the peace in Afghanistan and in the region, which is also of interest to the Russian Federation."
The vote, however, is likely to be a more complicated process.
The committee has "no coherent rules or guiding principle," according to the Diplomat, meaning the process could become turbulent and end without a final decision. Previous decisions by the committee "have been unpredictable and riven by great power politics," the outlet reported in September.
The United Nations has the authority to postpone a final decision on Afghanistan and Myanmar, leaving the current ambassadors from each country in place. This is the route it took from 1996 to 2001, when the Taliban was in control before being deposed by the United States following the 9/11 terror attacks. The situation now is different—both in Afghanistan and among power brokers at the United Nations. China and Russia could support this bid as part of an effort to subvert the United States at the international organization.
"The U.S. should stand firm against allowing the Taliban to assume representation at the United Nations General Assembly," said Brett Schaefer, a former Pentagon official and international diplomacy expert, now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. "The Taliban is a brutal government that does not respect basic human rights and fundamental freedoms—a primary purpose and principle established in the United Nations Charter."