Afghanistan and the United Nations

Afghanistan was admitted as a member of the United Nations on 19th November 1946 and has since been actively advocating for the world body's values and principles to promote universal peace.

The United Nations agencies have been present in Afghanistan since 1960s helping Afghans overcome their daunting challenges. At present, the United Nations agencies are playing a pivotal role in reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan.

Work under UN auspice is coordinated through the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).  The UNAMA was established in 2002 through the Security Council resolution 1401 in an effort to integrate all UN activities in Afghanistan.

There are some 16 UN agencies in the country working together with their Afghan government counterparts and with national and international NGO partners. All UN programs lend support to the Afghan transition process and recognize the lead role played by the Afghan Administration. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan (SRSG), who leads UNAMA, has overall responsibility for all UN activities in the country.

Some UN agencies most active in Afghanistan include, inter alia , the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) , the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Some of the principal areas of concern with which the UN is assisting include:

Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) In January 2006 at the London Conference. H.E. President Hamid Karzai presented an interim version of the ANDS (I-ANDS) which laid out Afghanistan 's plan for accelerating progress in security, governance, the rule of law and economic development. The I-ANDS is a comprehensive development plan drawn up by the government and intended to ensure the Afghanistan meets all of its Millennium Development Goals.

Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

The return of refugees from neighboring countries and IDPs is guided by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MORR) and supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the assistance from the International Organization of Migration (IOM), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the World Food Program (WFP); the World Health Organization (WHO) and a number of national and international NGOs.  At the end of August, UNHCR, working closely with the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, had assisted with the return of approximately 1.6 million refugees from neighboring countries. This was facilitated through the establishment of 14 distribution and eight encasement centers, which provided household kits and over USD15 million in travel grants to returning families. The World Food Program (WFP) also distributed between 50-200 kgs of wheat flour to returnees based on the size of their families. A continuing concern is that that well over 50 per cent of the refugees have returned to Kabul and Jalalabad, seriously straining the infrastructure and the provision of basic social services, especially health and education. Continued funding is critical to ensure reintegration.

Institutional Capacity Building

It is a priority for the UN in Afghanistan is to develop the capacity of Afghan institutions. Many problems still remain and require urgent action: Afghan cities and rural communities must cope with the rapid influx of returning refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), while levels of chronic malnutrition, food insecurity and socioeconomic vulnerability are still alarmingly high. A large portion of the population is dependent on some form of assistance. The Afghan Transitional Administration (ATA) struggles to establish revenue sources, initiate civil service reform, and prioritize and coordinate the aid arriving in the country.

Vulnerability, Livelihoods and Social Protection

The lead ministry guiding this program area is the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Rural Development (MRRD). Other Ministries involved are: Labor and Social Welfare; Urban Development; Martyrs and Disabled; Health; Reconstruction; Refugees and Repatriation; Agriculture, Irrigation and the Environment; Education; and Women's Affairs. A working Group comprised of representatives from UN agencies and other assistance partners provides support to the various ministries. Agencies include the World Food Program (WFP); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); The United Nations Human Settlements Program (HABITAT); Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); United Nations Development Program (UNDP); UNHCR; United Nations Women's Fund (UNIFEM); and United Nations Office of Project Services.

Culture, Media and Sports

The Ministry of Information and Culture is the key Ministry in this sector while UNESCO has been assigned as the Program Secretariat. In addition to UNAMA, there are a number of NGOs that support the media program.