Peace Consulting

Major Findings of the UN Secretary-General Report on Afghanistan Covering the Period from August 2021 to 31 January 2022

By <b><br>Dr Marta Katz-Turi</b>

Dr Marta Katz-Turi

The report provides an update on the activities of the United Nations in Afghanistan, including political, humanitarian, and human rights efforts, since the issuance of the previous report, dated 2 September 2021

The situation in Afghanistan remains uncertain six months after the Taliban takeover, as the multiple political, socio-economic, and humanitarian shocks reverberate across the country.

The report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 68/11 and Security Council resolution 2596 (2021), in which the Secretary-General was requested to submit a written report to the Security Council by 31 January 2022 on strategic and operational recommendations for the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).


What are the Major Findings of the UN Security-General’s Report on Afghanistan?

The Taliban is showing efforts to present itself as a caretaker Government. The movement, however, has yet to form governing structures that reflect the country’s ethnic, political and geographic diversity and include women. Efforts are constrained by the lack of resources and capacity, as well as an ideology that clashes in many ways with international norms of governance. The movement is also seeking to manage its own internal coherence.

Afghanistan is experiencing a massive economic contraction. An entire complex social and economic system is shutting down, in part because of the deficiencies in governance, the suspension of non-humanitarian aid flows and sanctions.

The best way to promote stability and future international support is for the Taliban to avoid the isolation that characterized its previous experience in power.

It is critical that this dialogue address the broad range of issues related to governance, including fundamental human rights and freedoms, that will have a significant impact on the prosperity and security of the citizens and future of Afghanistan, including its relationship with the international community. The respect and protection of the human rights, freedoms and well-being of the Afghan people, regardless of gender, age or ethnicity, and their capacity to fully and equally participate in all aspects of the social, economic and political life of the country are essential elements of an inclusive, stable and prosperous society.

The current situation of Afghan women and girls is deeply concerning. Over the past 20 years, a generation of girls has enjoyed the benefits of education and the possibilities of full and productive roles in Afghan society. Shutting them off from these roles will also negatively affect the country’s development and stability.

Allegations of violations of the right to life continue to be leveled against the de facto authorities, including violations of the declared general amnesty for former Government officials and members of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.

Reports of restrictions of the freedoms of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association have increased since 15 August 2021. The Talibans should ensure human rights-compliant policies, as well as independent and impartial investigations of alleged threats, violence and arbitrary arrests targeting media workers, protesters, human rights defenders, and the population at large, with a focus on vulnerable groups.

Forced evictions in several provinces continue to be reported, seemingly driven by decades-old conflicts over land, housing, and property rights and affecting minority communities. Forced evictions may constitute gross violations of the rights to adequate housing; food; water; health; education; work; security of the person; freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; and freedom of movement.

More than half of the population is in need of life-saving assistance. A staggering 23 million people – 55 per cent of the population – are at crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity, with some 9 million people expected to be at the emergency level which is the highest number in the world.


What are the recommendations put forward by the UN Secretary-General to improve the situation in Afghanistan?

The Secretary-General has recommended that the strategic objectives of the future United Nations political presence include the following:

(a) To work with all actors to promote effective, responsible, and inclusive Afghan governance and society while advancing reconciliation;

(b) To help strengthen the respect for and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of all Afghan men and women;

(c) To support the provision of essential services to the Afghan population and contribute to creating economic and social conditions that can lead to self-reliance and stability.

The Secretary-General also recommended the following priorities:

(a) Providing outreach and political good offices with a focus on responsive and participatory governance and inclusivity, and trust-building;

(b) Continuing to coordinate and enable the provision of essential humanitarian assistance;

(c) Coordinating international donors and organizations in relation to basic human needs, including through information-sharing, and supporting efforts to increase accountability, transparency and the effective use of aid;

(d) Facilitating structured policy dialogue between the de facto authorities, other Afghan stakeholders, the region and the wider international community;

(e) Promoting, supporting and advising on the implementation of the provisions of instruments concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms to which Afghanistan is a State party and by which it is bound, as well as on the monitoring and reporting of human rights violations and abuses; and advocating for the provision of, and equal access to, essential public services, as well as to due process and justice;

(f) Providing mine action to address the threat of explosive ordnance contamination to civilians.

The future United Nations presence would be headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General at the Under-Secretary-General level and comprise two pillars:

  1. Political and governance
  2. Humanitarian and development

As an integrated structure, the Mission, under the leadership of the Special Representative, would work to achieve greater coherence and efficiency across United Nations interventions.

The political and governance pillar would include the following entities:

(a) Political Affairs Service: this Service would monitor and report on political, security, social and economic developments.

(b) Governance and Community Affairs Service: this Service, including its staff in field offices, would promote inclusive and participatory governance structures at the national and subnational levels

(c) Regional Cooperation Unit: this Unit would facilitate coordinated approaches by countries in the region to contribute to stability in Afghanistan. It would work closely with the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia on promoting cooperation between Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries, as well as with the Mission’s liaison offices in Islamabad and Tehran.

The humanitarian and development pillar would include the following entities:

(a) Donor Coordination Section: this Section would facilitate structured policy dialogue between the de facto authorities, other Afghan stakeholders, the region and the wider international community;

(b) Resident Coordinator Office: the head of the humanitarian and development pillar would also serve as the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator;

(c) Risk Management Unit: this Unit would monitor United Nations coordinated assistance to Afghanistan to minimize the risk of aid diversion and incidental benefits to individuals and entities targeted by United Nations sanctions;

(d) Mine Action Service: this component would provide assessments of the explosive ordnance threat and its impact on civilians to the Mission leadership, advise and coordinate explosive ordnance threat mitigation measures.

It is recommended to retain the current six regional field offices (covering several provinces) and five provincial field offices, in order to enable outreach across the country and support mandate implementation.

A Human Rights Service under the Office of the Special Representative would provide impartial reporting and engagement with all stakeholders at the national and sub-national levels. The Service would monitor, report and advocate with regard to the situation for civilians, including children, and advocate the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Afghan men and women.

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