The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is a UN Special Political Mission tasked with assisting the people of Afghanistan.

UNAMA was established on 28 March 2002 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1401.

Reviewed annually, this mandate has been altered over time to reflect the needs of the country and was extended for one year, on 17 March 2022, by the UN Security Council Resolution 2626 (2022).

Resolution 2626 (2022) calls for UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, within their mandate, to continue to lead and coordinate international civilian efforts.

The Security Council also recognized that the renewed mandate of UNAMA is consistent with its resolutions 1662 (2006)1746 (2007)1806 (2008)1868 (2009)1917 (2010)1974 (2011)2041 (2012)2096 (2013)2145 (2014)2210 (2015)2274 (2016)2344 (2017)2405 (2018)2460 (2019)2489 (2019)2543 (2020)2596 (2021).

The United Nations has been involved in the region since 1946 when Afghanistan joined the General Assembly. Agencies such as UNICEF have been operating in Afghanistan since 1949.

UNAMA is headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Afghanistan.

UNAMA's headquarters is in Kabul and it maintains a field presence across Afghanistan, as well as liaison offices in Pakistan and Iran. The Mission has around 1,164 staff: 770 Afghan nationals, 298 international staff and 68 UNVs. (Figures from June 2021.) The Mission has offices in Bamyan, Faizabad, Gardez, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Maimana, Pul-i-Khumri, and Jalalabad. The UNAMA opened a temporary remote office in Almaty, Kazakhstan in September 2021 to continue international humanitarian cooperation as result of the Taliban takeover.[2]

UNAMA is headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Afghanistan. Markus Potzel is acting in this capacity.

Deborah Lyons is the immediate past SRSG who served from March 2020 to June 2022. Eight Special Representatives preceded her – Lakhdar Brahimi (former Algerian Foreign Minister) who served from October 2001 to January 2004, despite resigning from the post 2 years earlier; Jean Arnault who held the post from February 2004 to February 2006, followed by Tom Koenigs who held the post from March 2006 to December 2007, Kai Eide who held the post from 2008 to 2010, Staffan di Mistura from 2010 to 2011, Ján Kubiš from 2012 to 2014, Nicholas Haysom from 2014 to 2016 and Tadamichi Yamamoto from 2016 to 2020.

Since 2008, and following a directive of the UN Secretary-General, UNAMA is an integrated mission. This means that the Special Political Mission, all UN agencies, funds and programmes, work in a multidimensional and integrated manner to better assist Afghanistan according to nationally defined priorities.

Two deputy Special Representatives (DSRSG) oversee the main pillars of the mission – political and developmental issues. Included under these pillars are mission sections specializing in issues such as political analysis, reporting, and outreach, and donor coordination, as well as the coordination of UN agencies funds and programmes.

Political affairs pillar of UNAMA

The political affairs pillar is led by a Deputy Special Representative responsible for supporting political outreach, conflict resolution, and regional cooperation. On June 17, 2022, the UN Secretary General appointed Markus Potzel of Germany in this capacity. The pillar includes the analysis and reporting, political affairs, rule of law, gender unit and liaison’s offices in Islamabad and Teheran.

Development and Humanitarian Assistance

The development pillar is led by Ramiz Alakbarov, a Deputy Special Representative focusing on development and humanitarian assistance. UNAMA's development pillar, serves to further integrate development efforts in Afghanistan, especially in regard to capacity building and coordinating humanitarian assistance from international bodies. Alakbarov is also the UN Resident Coordinator for Afghanistan, responsible for the coordination of the work of the UN Country Team.

The UNCT in Afghanistan comprises 20 agencies, funds and programmes with offices in Afghanistan:

  •   FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)
  •   IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)
  •   ILO (International Labour Organization)
  •   IOM (International Organization for Migration)
  •   OCHA (UN Office Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
  •   OHCHR* (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
  •   UN WOMEN (United Nations Development Fund for Women)
  •   UNAIDS (United Nations program on HIV/AIDS)
  •   UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)
  •   UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
  •   UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)
  •   UN-HABITAT (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements)
  •   UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees)
  •   UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)
  •   UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization)
  •   UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research)
  •   UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service)
  •   UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)
  •   UNOPS (UN Office for Project Services)
  •   WFP (World Food Programme)
  •   WHO (World Health Organization)

        *OHCHR is integrated with UNAMA, working under direction of the SRSG