The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is a UN Special Political Mission established to assist the state and the people of Afghanistan in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development. UNAMA was established on 28 March 2002 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1401. Its original mandate was to support the implementation of the Bonn Agreement (December 2001). Reviewed annually, this mandate has been altered over time to reflect the needs of the country and was extended for six months, on 17 September 2021, by UN Security Council Resolution 2596 (2021).

The Council also requested the Secretary-General to prepare a written report by 31 January 2022 outlining “strategic and operational recommendations for the mandate of UNAMA in light of recent political, security, and social developments” in Afghanistan.

UNAMA is headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, who was appointed to the post in March 2020, replacing Tadamichi Yamamoto. Previous SRSG’s were– Lakhdar Brahimi who served from October 2001 to January 2004; Jean Arnault from February 2004 to February 2006, followed by Tom Koenigs from March 2006 to December 2007, Kai Eide 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.

The SRSG is responsible for all UN activities in the country and directly oversees the Security Section, Strategic Communication Service, Human Rights Section, and Peace and Reconciliation. The SRSG’s Chief of Staff oversees UNAMA’s Field Offices.
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 Mette Knudsen, a Deputy Special Representative responsible for supporting political outreach, conflict resolution, and regional cooperation. The pillar includes the analysis and reporting, political affairs, rule of law, liaison’s offices in Islamabad and Teheran, gender unit and the electoral support office.

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

One UN for Afghanistan

In 2016, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) launched the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) to carry the country forward from 2017 to 2021. UNAMA and the United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes recognize the ANPDF, and the development planning system that underpins it, as the single coordinating structure for development assistance. It was updated in 2020 - Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF II), together with the Afghanistan Partnership Framework (APF) adopted at the 2020 Afghanistan Conference co-organized by the GoIRA, the Government of Finland and UNAMA.

In 2021, a new UN-Afghanistan Sustainable Development Framework is jointly being developed.