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Joint Statement from SFRC Chairman Menendez, Chairs of Foreign Affairs Committees of the G7 Member States on Afghanistan

JERSEY CITY, NJ – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined his counterparts in Italy, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Parliament  in issuing the following joint statement on Afghanistan:

We, the G7 Foreign Affairs Committee Chairs of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union, welcome the emergency meeting of the G7 which has been convened to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. We extend our deepest sympathies to the people of Afghanistan as they contend with the brutal Taliban military takeover of the country and believe that the G7 and broader international community should work to hold this Taliban-led regime accountable.

We are grateful to all the members of the armed services, diplomats, and NGO workers who have served and sacrificed in Afghanistan during the last two decades, especially those working around the clock during the last week to evacuate our citizens and vulnerable Afghans safely.

We issued our first joint statement on 10 June 2021 ahead of the leaders’ summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.  That statement set out seven goals aimed at addressing the critical issues facing the international community of states. Amongst those goals was the defence of democratic values.  Specifically, we urged the G7 governments to unite with like-minded partners to form a robust defence of the rule of law, human rights and democracy, standing with the vulnerable where they are exploited and defending the rights of those who oppose the expansive and exploitative instincts of autocrats.

We now set out a request for action and co-ordination from G7 nations, working with allies and partners, to avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. We believe we have a role in working together to mitigate the serious consequences for global security and regional stability the current emergency could trigger. We urge G7 governments to formulate a three-pronged response to be pursued in parallel:

PHASE ONE – Humanitarian Rescue

In order to implement an orderly evacuation of those most vulnerable within Afghanistan, the G7 governments should avoid arbitrary dates for ending military support to the evacuation or imposing artificial caps on the number of evacuees. Either could increase pressure on those seeking assistance and those in the frontline of the refugee emergency. Instead, these decisions should be driven by the steps required for an orderly process with the primary objective of protecting of the most vulnerable and assisting those in most need.

As well as evacuation, the G7 governments should call on the United Nations to coordinate the international community in responding to the likely refugee and humanitarian crisis. Afghans will be in need of emergency support whether inside Afghanistan or out and the role of the World Food Programme and the UNHCR will be essential to supporting those in critical need.

PHASE TWO – Framework for dealing with the Taliban

No member of the international community of states should unilaterally recognize the Taliban regime. There must be a coordinated process, ideally through a resolution of the United Nations Security Council to ensure commitments entered into by the Taliban are seen as binding. The key criteria for recognition should include, but not be limited to: repudiation of all cross-border terrorism, including Al Qaeda and associated groups; equality of rights for girls and women; protection of minority ethnic and religious groups; commitment to democratic elections; and ending all narcotics-related activity. It is the actions that will count. A monitoring and enforcement mechanism should form part of any framework agreed with the Taliban to ensure compliance with its commitments. There is little indication from its past or present behavior that the Taliban is committed to any of these principles so the G7 countries should be prepared to isolate the Taliban and impose robust sanctions should violations reach an agreed threshold. 

PHASE THREE – Global Security and Regional Stability

The withdrawal of US and allied forces from Afghanistan should not be misinterpreted by the global community as any weakening of resolve from G7 governments in taking all necessary measures to combat cross-border terrorism, to support regional cooperation or advance democratic values. With the spillover of terrorism possible, we would like to see India invited to attend this G7 meeting.  As other terror groups are beginning to muster in the Horn of Africa and reawaken movements elsewhere, we believe the African Union should be invited to attend individual G7 meetings when appropriate.

This would promote a regional shift for governments and ensure that the spillover effects of Afghanistan which could destabilise neighbouring countries are constantly monitored by those closest to the likely areas of threat. The export of terror, whether in South Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, or any other part of the world, should be met with swift and decisive action.

We hope the G7 governments are able to agree a concrete set of outcomes from the emergency meeting of leaders and look forward to co-operating on the Parliamentary steps required to protect the people of Afghanistan and the welfare of all our citizens.”

Senator Bob Menendez, Chair, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee

David McAllister MEP, Chair, European Parliament

Jean-Louis Bourlanges, Chair, French National Assembly

Dr Norbert Rottgen MdB, Chair, German Bundestag

Piero Fassino MP, Chair, Italian Chamber of Deputies

ABE Toshiko, Chair, Japanese House of Representatives

Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair, UK Parliament

*The Canadian Parliament is dissolved for the forthcoming election.