As per Wiki, no countries have so far recognized the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate as the legitimate successor of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. But... what's the point of delaying the official establishment of diplomatic relations?

  • The US failed to destroy the Taliban after a full occupation for 20 years, so they're clearly not going anywhere.
  • Taliban seems to have full control over the entire territory of Afghanistan, unlike (say) the government of Somalia which doesn't actually control most of the country.
  • The Taliban seems pretty popular with the locals given how fast they’ve overtaken the entire country.
  • The Taliban is not a democratic regime and established Shariah law, however the same is also true of Saudi Arabia and even they haven't recognized the new government yet.
  • It's understandable that the West will remain resentful for a long time over the failed military operation in Afghanistan, however this shouldn't stop Russia or China from extending recognition.
  • Unlike North Korea, the Taliban doesn't seem to be conducting any rocket tests or otherwise threatening global security in a major way. The security loopholes exploited during 9/11 have long been closed and it's unlikely anyone in Afghanistan could do major harm to the rest of the world.

So... why not recognize the Taliban? What is everyone waiting for?

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    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 11:22
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    Recognition is relative: "In recent months, at least four countries — China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkmenistan — have accredited Taliban-appointed diplomats, even though all have refused to recognize the 8-month-old government in Afghanistan." voanews.com/a/… TBH I'm not sure in what sense they "don't recognize" the Taliban. Probably in the sense of press statement along those lines. But in practice... Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 14:39
  • The Taliban even claim the list longer "Shaheen, whose appointment has not been endorsed by the U.N., told VOA that about 10 countries have "accepted" Taliban diplomats, including China, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan. Of those, only four — China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkmenistan — have formally accredited diplomats appointed by the Taliban, according to announcements by Afghan embassies and the foreign ministries of the host countries." Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 14:41
  • @Fizz I’m confused as to who is supposed to be giving orders to (say) the Afghanistan representative to the UN given that there’s no “government in exile”. Probably deserves a separate question. Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 18:09

4 Answers 4


Here's Recognition and the Taliban @ Brookings may not be a final answer, but it does have info that provides some insights:

During the Trump administration’s negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar prior to this collapse, numerous countries indicated that they would refuse to recognize any government coming to power through force. Whether the Taliban’s recent accomplishment of exactly this may complicate those promises, the presenters noted, remained to be seen.


Traditionally the standard for governmental recognition has been “effective control,” meaning the regime is “sufficiently established to give reasonable assurance of its permanence, and of the acquiescence of those who constitute the state in its ability to maintain itself and discharge its internal duties and its external obligations.” Modern cases of recognition have often been conditioned on factors like human rights compliance or democratic governance...States are also wary of over-hasty recognition. De-recognition of states that fail to meet the initial recognition standards is disfavored and much harder than recognition. Recognition comes with several implications. The recognized government may claim ownership and exercise control over the state’s foreign property, the government is likely to gain UN representation, and uses of military force may be authorized.


Third, the United States could engage in extended negotiations with the Taliban over recognition, subject to the Taliban meeting certain conditions—the likeliest outcome in the near and medium term as the United States and its allies try to use recognition as a carrot to urge the Taliban to undertake certain fundamental reforms.

Given the recent news about Taliban barring women from schooling and barring them working from NGOs, it seems unproductive to give up the carrot while the Taliban have yet to offer anything in return.

Even countries which could be expected to be pro-recognition are probably leery of swimming against the tide when the UN itself has such grave concerns. Large reputational cost, little benefit.

GENEVA (29 December 2022) -- UN experts* today denounced and called for an immediate reversal of the Taliban’s recent order barring women from working in international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and supported a unified effort of the international community to take a stand against this latest human rights violation, further banishing women from the workplace, preventing delivery of life-saving aid and crippling the work of NGOs which will have a terrible impact on the entire country. Their statement is as follows:


Having already denied women and girls their rights to education and limited their freedom of movement, expression, and dress as well as public participation, further denying women’s right to work in NGOs in the middle of winter when the country is grappling with a humanitarian emergency shows the Taliban have no regard for women’s rights or their wellbeing and will stop at nothing. In this case, they are instrumentalising and victimising women and the recipients of critical aid, apparently in a power struggle over control of this sector. This may well be a case of gender persecution, a crime against humanity, and those responsible should be held to account.

We call on the de facto authorities to immediately lift the ban on women working with national and international NGOs.

As @ohwilleke states below, it is unclear how much the Taliban are trying, i.e. how much effort are they putting in? However, some claim it is not for lack of wanting, at least from some bits of the Taliban apparatus:

Taliban officials claim that just “engaging” with the Taliban or the leadership is not enough: the international community needs to offer them something they want. The main diplomatic objective of the Taliban leadership is to gain relief from sanctions and obtain official recognition, above all from the United States.

The fact that no one recognizes the Taliban does indicate that maybe it's just not something that they've put much actual effort into. I mean there are plenty of countries that dislike the West, don't give a fig about UN disapproval and aren't exactly pro human/women's rights.

Not going to chase after one more Afghanistan link, but I recall recently seeing that it is the "hard men" from Kandahar that are currently calling the shots, not any of the Taliban "moderates". So they may be unwilling to make any concessions since after all oppressing women is front and center of that faction's ideology.

As to a country like China, which might benefit from Afghan minerals? It might, but there are enough risks with doing it that it may be in no great hurry.

Overall, the Taliban don't seem to be offering much in return for recognition at this time. And it is early days.

p.s. To be clear, I tend to agree with the OP that "not recognizing cuz we don't like them" is kinda peevish. And especially so if it is for domestic electoral considerations. Nationhood is kinda like UN membership - you're in the UN because you are a nation on this planet. Not because everyone likes you or you're a nice guy (we have had many questions about "why is X allowed in the UN?" or "why is Y in the Security Council?")

But not giving away a bargaining chip is a valid realpolitik reason to wait them out.

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    I suspect (but don't know) that one of the reasons (in countries that aren't opposed to Taliban policies) may be that the Taliban haven't had the time or inclination to establish a foreign relations bureaucracy and to appoint diplomats to serve on diplomatic missions to other countries (including the difficulty of repossessing Afghan embassies currently occupied by representatives of the old regime). Normally, diplomatic recognition and establishment of diplomatic relations go hand in hand.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 0:46
  • @ohwilleke that and that the recognizin country would just forfeit a bargaining chip for free. China for example could very well "trade" it's recognition for the Taliban being a bit more favorable in some mineral exploitation deal
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 9:38

Frame challenge: Why would any country want to recognize the Taliban?

  • Certainly not any western country as that would be a tacit acceptance that the rampant sexism and religionism in Afghanistan is acceptable.

  • Certainly not Saudi Arabia because they want to be seen as the leaders of the Islamic world.

  • Certainly not any ally of Saudi Arabia because those countries do not want to aggravate tribal disputes with the Saudis.

  • Certainly not Iran or other Shia nations as the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam have been at war with one another for a millennium.

  • Certainly not China as Afghanistan appears to be a failed state. China is rather pragmatic in this regard.

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    China's position is rather complex - they're assumed to be interested by mining concessions but that may wait a while and many Western countries recognize states with questionable habits, such as North Korea. I think it is early days for recognition - for the reasons you cite - but I also don't think these objections are fixed in stone either. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 0:09
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Of course they are not fixed in stone. They're not even carved in the softest balsa. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 0:15
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    @JonathanReez Look at it from a very pragmatic point of view. What is the advantage to any country recognizing the Taliban, at least for now? (Italian Philosophers 4 Monica did make a good point.) It's a failed state -- at least for now. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 0:21
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    @DavidHammen there's supposedly 7 states more "fragile" than Afghanistan and they're all recognized internationally, so I'm not sure it's sufficient reason. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 0:35
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    Your first point sounds cute. But considering the number of recognized states with a similar level of "rampant sexism and religionism", I fear it doesn't play any major role. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 8:38

A diplomatic recognition of a government is not an acknowledgement that this is, in fact a functioning government that exercises effective control over the territory it seeks to govern. Many governments that are not officialy recognised by most countries excercise far more effective control over their territory than many near-unanimously recognised governments such as the Somalian or the Libyan government.

Instead diplomatic recognition seems to be a comment on the perceived legitimacy of the government, whether it is the 'rightful' government of a territory. In particular, governments that are installed as a result of foreign military intervention are often not recognised by any countries other than the one that installed it. See Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia, Transnistria and others. Governments that come into power as a result of violent overthrow of the previous government (like the Taliban, or the Myanmar junta) are often not recognised either. There are some exceptions however, like the government installed in Iraq after the US invasion, or the government installed in Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001, although the Afghanistan invasion may have been sort of authorized by UN.

Personally, I feel that diplomatic recognition of foreign governments should follow the factual reality rather than your feelings towards than government. Often it becomes a political game, like China pressuring other countries to not recognise Taiwan. It is a mostly symbolic thing anyway, although there are some practical implications - see Italian Philosophers' answer.

  • The summary if this answer is that the Taliban aren't seen as the rightful government of Afghanistan? But then aren't there many countries where one could say that their government isn't the rightful government. North Korea for example. Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 23:07

They seem doing some very strange things with women's rights that may not be truly Islamic, regardless what they say. There might be nothing really Islamic about preventing girls from going to school.

This results in international disregard. They do not get immediate respect and recognition from Islamic countries and of course they do not get respect from "the western word" where women have strongly-enforced equal rights. Recognizing Afghanistan as it is would mean direct or indirect approval of what they are doing and they do not have to do what they do not want to.

Maybe this would have changed if Afghanistan were an economically strong country and important trading partner that should be recognized to draw various agreements important for trade, but it seems that currently there is no any need to care about this either.

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