LL.M. alumni publish article calling on United Nations to take urgent action to protect Afghan women’s rights

Author: Denise Wager

Samim Sobat
Roqia Samim, left, and Tahmina Sobat

Two alumni of Notre Dame Law School’s LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law have authored an article that details the current violation of women’s human rights in Afghanistan and calls for the United Nations to take urgent action.

Roqia Samim ’22 LL.M. and Tahmina Sobat ’20 LL.M. wrote “Afghan Women’s Rights as Taliban’s Bargaining Tool for International Recognition,” which was featured by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.

UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to monitor, advise, and publicly report on human rights situations and violations worldwide.

In their article, Samim and Sobat depict the oppression that has happened to women in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country’s government in 2021. “The constitutional, legal, and policy commitments to ensure women’s rights are currently being expunged by the Taliban, ultimately denying women and girls most of their hard-won fundamental rights,” they say.

The human rights violations include banning women from working, attending secondary schools and universities, visiting such places as restaurants and gyms, and imposing dress code and gender segregation rules in other public places.

“A simple glance at the international human rights law instruments reveals how these systematic and intentional oppression imposed on Afghan women undermines the integrity of the basic principles of human rights law,” Samim and Sobat state.

Samim and Sobat call upon the United Nations to actively respond to Afghan women’s advocacies and demands to restore their rights and deny any type of recognition to the Taliban de-facto authorities.

“We can undoubtedly say that Afghan women are facing the world’s worst human and women’s rights crisis,” they say. “This crisis needs immediate attention and concrete action from the United Nations to support Afghan women and uplift the voices of their activism and resistance.”

They state that the Taliban should not have any recognition or support in the international community because of their continued violation of human rights, saying, “We call on the United Nations and other advocates of humanity to take action beyond mere condemnation of the Taliban’s inhumane acts and to meaningfully engage and support Afghan women’s movements and resistance against the unfathomably restrictive rules of the Taliban.”

Samim and Sobat also recommend sanctions on all Taliban members currently in power, transparency about the process of international humanitarian aid, funding and education to girls and women from Afghanistan suffering from extreme oppression, and an independent way to monitor the human rights situation in Afghanistan, just to name a few measures.

Samim works as senior research associate for Notre Dame Law School’s LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law and leads the program’s collaboration with the Afghan Peace and Development Program at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for Peace Studies.

Sobat is a women’s human rights lawyer. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in the Feminist Studies Program in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota.