G20 huddle on Afghanistan: Lisbon Treaty and EU norms

Even under 20 year-long US-sponsored regimes, western standards of women’s rights did not work in Afghanistan

Shazia Anwer Cheema October 25, 2021
The writer is a PhD scholar of Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague. She can be reached at [email protected] and tweets @ShaziaAnwerCh

G20 Special Video Conference for Afghanistan was held on October 12, 2021. The interim government of Afghanistan was not invited to the Conference. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that at least Pakistan and Iran should have been invited to share their viewpoints and suggestions for handling humanitarian issues in Afghanistan. However, his suggestion was turned down. Chinese and Russian presidents did not join the video conference.

During the G20 meeting on Afghanistan, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced a support package worth around €1 billion for the Afghan people and neighbouring countries, addressing the urgent needs in the country and the region. G20 is a group of 20 countries including the United States, Japan, Russia, India, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia but only the EU announced financial support for the Humanitarian demands of Afghanistan in G20 Video Conference.

However, this announcement does not mean that the EU has any plan to accept Taliban rule or to get involved in Afghan issues. EU leadership reemphasized that overall EU development aid to Afghanistan would remain frozen unless five benchmarks agreed by EU Foreign Ministers are not achieved. The five benchmarks set by the EU are: Afghanistan cannot serve as a base for terrorism; basic human rights must be respected; women rights must be ensured; the Afghan government must be inclusive and allow access to humanitarian aid; and the Taliban must also let foreign nationals and Afghans at-risk who wish to leave the country “in line with the calls made in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2593 and the Taliban’s own commitments”.

All benchmarks are logical except one that is linked with women’s rights because the Afghan society had its own social dynamics and cannot follow Western standards of women’s rights. Even under 20 year-long US-sponsored regimes, western standards of women’s rights did not work in Afghanistan.

We remember that EU Foreign Ministers have decided to engage with the regional and international partners in order to create a “regional political platform of cooperation” with Afghanistan’s neighbours to face, all together, the challenges created by the new situation, especially the possibility of a migration wave of Afghan refugees towards Europe. They are of the view that Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban’s actions.

The point worth remembering is that apart from all the domestic dislike by the general public regarding the refugee crisis, the EU stands firmly on the ground of humanity.

Individuals are prone to think personally for their personal good and short-term, meek gain but great nations and their leaders do not deviate from the basic ideology upon which the entire foundation of their ideology stands.

EU may regret being part of the US-led adventure of saving the princess from Ginny, most ironically without taking the consent from the so-called sufferer whether she wanted to be rescued or not. EU may formulate a new vision for such bizarrely morainic adventure in the future but till now, neither they refuse to accept refugees, nor have they decided to stop helping them with the war aftermath.

While living in Europe and following think-tanks as part of my studies, my belief has become stronger than European perception towards humanity. The majority of European think-tanks consider the Afghan population a victim of bullfighting. They accept that from Cold War to Enduring Freedom, only Afghan blood soaked in Afghan soil. Since right groups and think-tanks play a pivotal role in forming EU Foreign Policy, EU has shown full support to Afghans on humanitarian ground, by allowing them easy access, providing them study scholarships, and showing leniency toward women migration in particular.

No doubt the EU had been a partner in the US wars in Afghan disaster but the wisdom of the 1950s Treaty of Lisbon still prevails if we talk about a common citizen of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty enshrined a commitment to human rights as a foundational value.


Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2021.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ


Most Read