UN Passes Arms Embargo Against Taliban

The UN Security Council passed a resolution December 19 imposing new sanctions, including an arms embargo, against the Taliban for supporting international terrorism.

UN Security Council Resolution 1333 prohibits states from supplying arms-related materials to the Afghan faction, which has gained control of about 90 percent of Afghanistan since seizing power in 1996. Additional sanctions include strengthening an existing flight ban in Taliban-controlled areas (excepting humanitarian assistance-related flights), closing Taliban offices abroad, and increasing international travel restrictions on Taliban officials.

The United States and Russia sponsored the resolution, which passed 13-0, with China and Malaysia abstaining. It builds on a similar October 1999 Security Council resolution that did not include an arms embargo.

The resolution demands that the Taliban cease providing international terrorists sanctuary and training, close its terrorist training camps, and cooperate with international efforts to bring indicted terrorists to justice. Specifically, it calls for the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden—whom the United States indicted for the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania—to a country where he has been indicted and can be put on trial. Bin Laden reportedly resides in Afghanistan.

Under the resolution, the Taliban has one month to comply with UN demands before sanctions go into effect. The sanctions will last for one year, after which the Security Council will decide whether to extend them.

The resolution passed despite concern from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and humanitarian-aid groups that the sanctions could interfere with peace efforts and humanitarian work in Afghanistan. The resolution states that the sanctions should contain exemptions to avoid "adverse humanitarian consequences" on Afghan civilians and impediments to relief organizations' work, and the arms embargo does not apply to non-lethal military equipment supplies "intended solely for humanitarian or protective use."