UNITED NATIONS -- Afghanistan's ambassador to the UN has urged the Security Council to remove more members of the Taliban from its international sanctions list, saying the move is "critical for achieving lasting peace and security."
UN Resolution 1267 blacklisted hundreds of individuals and entities suspected of being associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban but is increasingly viewed by Kabul as a major impediment toward its peace and reconciliation effort.
During a special council session on global terrorism matters, Ambassador Zahir Tanin also urged the council to streamline the procedures for listing and delisting names on the list.
Created in 1999, the 1267 list was initially seen as a temporary measure aimed against the emerging Al-Qaeda and Taliban threats. Over time, it has become a permanent fixture and lightning rod for criticism.
The Austrian diplomat who chairs the 1267 committee, Thomas Mayr-Harting, said the committee is investigating how many terrorist suspects on the list have died. He also acknowledged the weaknesses in the current procedures for listing and delisting names.
"The 1267 regime regarding Al-Qaeda and Taliban has also been recently criticized in the sense that it was no longer a temporary emergency measure to address a specific threat but an open-ended measure that was not limited in time or space," he said.
In October, Martin Scheinin, an independent UN expert on the protection of human rights, argued that it is problematic to impose binding permanent obligations for acts of terrorism which have not yet taken place because there is no universally accepted and precise definition of terrorism.
There are now 433 Al-Qaeda and Taliban names and entities on the list. Forty-five were recently removed and 58 are being considered for possible delisting.
Kabul has made the removal of as many Taliban individuals from the list one its top priority at the UN, as it pursues a strategy of bringing the Taliban into the process of national reconciliation.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has submitted 10 additional high priority names that he wants taken off the list.
No Legal Recourse
Tanin said the decision earlier this year to remove 10 Taliban members from the list "will benefit Afghanistan's peace and reconciliation initiative." But he added that, even though Kabul welcomes the reforms, individuals named on the list have virtually no legal avenues to dispute the decision.
"Afghanistan welcomes the delisting of 10 former Taliban members during the course of the year. Such measures will benefit Afghanistan's peace and reconciliation initiative," he said. "We urge the committee to also give the consideration to Afghanistan's additional delisting requests and look forward to the monitoring team's visit to Kabul at the end of this month."
Ahmad Sial, Pakistan's acting representative to the UN, echoed his Afghan counterpart's views and said the procedure could be simplified further.
"We are of the view that much needs to be done to improve the revised procedures and meet the standards required to ensure a fair hearing for listing or delisting of individuals and entities," he said.