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HRC 52 Side Event: "Advocating for the Right to Education in Afghanistan"
Statement by Ambassador Michèle Taylor at a 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council Side Event
March 31, 2023

Ambassador Taylor’s Statement
HRC 52 Side Event: “Unleashing the Potential of the Next Afghan Generation: Advocating for the Right to Education in Afghanistan”
UN Palais, Room XXII

Good afternoon, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, esteemed guests.

Thank you to the organizers of this event–G7+, HWPL, Action for Development, and the Permanent Mission of Belgium—for bringing us together on this important topic today.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the Taliban’s indefensible decision to ban women from universities, keep secondary schools closed to girls, and impose other restrictions on the ability of women and girls in Afghanistan to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Afghan women and girls in all their diversity deserve a place in society, not kept invisible behind closed doors.

Education is a human right. It is also essential to Afghanistan’s economic growth and stability. The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all in Afghanistan.

That said, the international community cannot leave Afghan students without a lifeline while we continue efforts to press the Taliban to reverse their decision.

We must help Afghans overcome these barriers. We must empower them to continue to seek creative methods of education. We must help educational platforms, schools, and teachers connect to discuss best practices for delivering home-based or remote schooling to Afghan children. We must ensure that Afghans who have fled the country are able to access education as refugees.

Discussions about Afghanistan in the Human Rights Council and elsewhere can feel hopeless as the human rights situation continues to worsen. But today, we are here to look forward. To empower Afghan students and teachers. To resist. To show the brave women and girls looking for a beacon of hope that we see them, that we hear them, and that they have not been forgotten. The United States is committed to that promise, as am I personally.

I look forward to hearing from Special Rapporteur Bennett, as well as the brave educators on our panel today, about how the international community can achieve these goals.