The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was established on 28th March, 2002 by UN Security Council resolution 1401. Its original mandate was to support the Bonn Agreement (December 2001); reviewed annually, this mandate has been altered over time to reflect the needs of the country and was recently extended until 23rd March 2008 by resolution 1746 . UNAMA’s mandate currently has the following elements: providing political and strategic advice for the peace process; providing good offices; helping the government to implement the Afghanistan Compact. The Afghanistan National Development Strategy and the National Drugs Control Strategy; promoting human rights; providing technical assistance; and continuing to manage and coordinate all UN-led humanitarian relief, recovery, reconstruction and development activates in Afghanistan . These were endorsed by the UN Security Council in resolution 1662.
The United Nations have been involved in the region since 1946 when Afghanistan joined the General Assembly, with the UNDP carrying out aid and development work from the 1950s.
Human rights and development in Afghanistan have long been an issue in one of the least-developed countries of the world. In 1985 there was a Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, whose advice led the Security Council to condemn widespread disregard for human rights and large-scale violations in resolution 40/137.
In the early 1990s Operation Salam was the UN’s emergency relief operation, headed by Baron Sevan the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
In December 1993 the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan was set up as a ‘bridging’ agency between the UN and the Afghan leaders. This made it easier for the UN to help Afghan leaders with national reconciliation and reconstruction.
UNAMA is headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, who was appointed to the post in March 2008. There are three previous Special Representatives – Lakhdar Brahimi (former Algerian Foreign Minister) who served from October 2001 to January 2004, despite resigning from the post 2 years earlier; and 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.
As the head of UNAMA Kai Eide is responsible for all UN activities in the country. There are also two deputy Special Representatives who oversee the main pillars of the mission – developmental issues and political matters. Included under these pillars are departments specialising in human rights, policing, military, drugs and gender issues.
The developmental pillar of UNAMA focuses on relief efforts, delivery aid to where it is needed most, and the reconstruction of the infrastructure and other important components of society. This pillar is headed by Ameerah Haq, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction.
The political affairs pillar is led by Christopher Alexander responsible for election monitoring, human rights issues and overseeing the implementation of the Bonn Agreement and the Afghanistan Compact.
In 2004 democratic presidential elections were held, with Karzai winning 55.4% of the vote (21 out of 34 provinces), and in 2005 Parliamentary elections were held across the country.
In human rights areas less information is available but the treatment of women has greatly improved, with schooling and employment rates increasing steadily since the extremist Taliban were toppled from power.
The 2002 Tokyo Conference was a success for the RRR section with Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling for $10billion in aid over a 10 year period from the international community to help rebuild Afghanistan. Although not achieving this high aim, Annan did receive pledges of $5billion over a 6 year period. Such fundraising work has continued, with $8.2 billion being raised at the 2004 Berlin International Conference on Afghanistan.
Nationwide immunization campaigns have been launched, the number of children in education has dramatically increased and the RRR team formulated a National Development Framework with the Transitional Authority.
The mission has provided extensive support for political processes to take place though. Transport, communications, voter registration and information campaigns and election monitoring were all provided by UNAMA in efforts to allow a fair, representative and successful transition in government. UNAMA’s efforts have continued from the initial Emergency Loya Jirga in June 2002 to presidential elections and national assembly elections in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
The position of UNAMA and the Special Representative as co-chair of the Joint Co-ordination and Monitoring Board (JEMB), which aligns international and Afghan efforts to succeed with the aims of the Afghanistan Compact, also gives the mission great access, responsibility and influence in the country.
UNAMA and the JEMB helped to conduct the 2004 elections in which 10.5 million Afghans voted (41% of which were women.
UNAMA’s success is shown in other walks of life with over 4.2 million children now in education and around 3 million refugees repatriated to Afghanistan since 2002.
These include the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme, and the UNHCR. Other agencies coordinate and provide aid, medical care, education and human rights advice.
UNAMA also works closely with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that was put into place by the United Nations Security Council in December 2001.
On 28th October 2004, 3 UN electoral employees were kidnapped, and not released until 23rd November. Other electoral personnel around the country were also attacked, including people working for the UNHCR and other Non-Governmental Organisations.
Banki Moon is currently UN General Secretary.