ROLE OF UNITED NATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN: THE CHRONOLOGY AND THE WAY FORWARD
Updated: Sep 23
Author: Shubhangi Verma, II year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow
History is repeating itself once again in Afghanistan. The state of affairs in the country is heartrending. Harrowing images from various parts of the country are surfacing every day. The withdrawal of the United States troop has brought back the rule of the Taliban. United Nations as machinery for global governance and peacekeeping has played a perceptible role in Afghanistan in the past two decades. But the present situation demands more action on part of the United Nations to steer the country out of the lingering humanitarian crisis.
THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS IN THE PAST TWO DECADES IN AFGHANISTAN
The period from 1979 marked a vacuum in terms of a national government in Afghanistan. For a swift transition from political crisis to a permanent government, the Bonn agreement (Official Agreement on Provisional Arrangement in Afghanistan Pending the Re-establishment of Permanent Government Institutes) was signed on 5 December 2001. This agreement was signed under the UN leadership with the intent of recreating Afghanistan on all lines and in all aspects. The North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO) and the United States of America also played a key role here.
The agreement had two major goals. The first one being the establishment of UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan). This is a political organization meant for sustainable peace development in Afghanistan. The formation of UNAMA came from Resolution 1401 of the Security Council. This resolution endorsed the establishment of this political unit on 28 March 2002. The second major goal behind the Bonn Agreement was the establishment of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). This was the multinational military wing that came in force under Resolution 1386 of the Security Council. The force remained in action from 2001 till 2014 in Afghanistan and had soldiers from many countries including NATO nations. The mission was initiated with the intention of training and rebuilding key government institutes in Afghanistan and preparing them for a broader war against the Taliban.
This mission came to an end on 28 December 2014. It was replaced by the Resolute Support Mission (RSM). The succeeding organization came into force on 1 January 2015. The number of troops in the Resolute Support Mission decreased substantially. This was a non-combat mission with its role being limited to advising and training for the long term security of the country. The Resolute Security Mission was disbanded on 12 July 2021. The abrupt ending of the mission and withdrawal of the troops, in turn, gave the Taliban a chance to rise to power once again. Hence the miscarriage of planning, judgment and execution led to the failure of the mission.
THE CURRENT STANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS
The nationals of Afghanistan are currently facing a crisis of all varieties. Beginning from the Political crisis, the list contains refugee crisis, humanitarian crisis, medical crisis amidst Covid and many more. The afflicted and tortured nationals, as well as foreigners in Afghanistan, are facing a refugee crisis. People are trying to escape from the vicious circle of inflictions. United Nations has voted to demand safe passage for people who wish to leave Afghanistan and for the rapid and secure opening of Kabul airport. But it is still vague and ambiguous on how the international organization shall be implementing the resolution.
Humanitarian crises have been haunting the people of Afghanistan. With a lack of all necessities and a hike in prices, the United Nations Migratory Agency has launched an appeal of $24 million. The rise in poverty, insanitation, food insecurity and large scale displacement of people demands larger humanitarian aid. The UN had also launched a Humanitarian Response Plan for aiding Afghanistan. The plan provided for a total aid of $1.3 Billion for the country.
Where on one hand the entire world is battling with Covid and its repercussions, Afghanistan remains no exception. The World Health Organization has stated that they have airlifted life-saving medicines to Afghanistan in an attempt to bridge the gap between needs and supplies. Nearly 12.5 metric tonnes of medical amenities have been sent to Afghanistan by the UN and its agencies to avert the ongoing medical crisis.
UNFULFILLED RESPONSIBILITIES OF UNITED NATIONS
Previously the United Nations refused to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government in Afghanistan during its rule from 1996 to 2001. Afghanistan is facing a political crisis with no permanent and recognizable government. Under such a scenario there is no political representation in the country to take care of the day to day civil machinery.
As an organization of international order, the United Nations is responsible for taking the lead in a situation like the one Afghanistan is going through. Taliban is infamous for its irrational and violent methods. With violation of all human rights at the hands of the Taliban, the children, women and people of Afghanistan have no one to look upon for assistance. There are high chances of a civil war in Afghanistan if the present situation remains unchanged. To avoid further destruction the United Nations should take the requisite measures. Under Chapter 7 of the UNSC, the council is “allowed to determine the existence of any threat to the threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken by Article 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security”. The UN should expand UNAMA with the humanitarian corridor.
Under the UN Peace Keeping Mission, the member countries give military assistance under a combined force. The UN should deploy such a mission in Afghanistan as soon as possible to provide civilian protection and maintain peace. The world community must step forward to ameliorate the situation in Afghanistan. The UN as an international platform must establish a human rights watch agency that ensures the protection of women, child and human rights in the country.
Many countries have invested in various sectors in Afghanistan in the last two decades. Sadly a continuous threat persists for these nations. The international forces in Afghanistan can be of immediate help in safeguarding the assets of major stakeholders in Afghanistan.
The forces can have a major impact in maintaining the morale of the people by signifying their presence for the locals. Foreign forces have been present in Afghanistan for the past two decades and they should try to maintain their feet amongst the countrymen. Proper relations and approachability with forces are quite important for the psychological and physical well being of Afghans. The forces can also help in maintaining smooth cross border trade so that the country doesn’t run out of resources shortly.
Another major question that the situation has poised before the world community is who will come for the rescue of Afghan nationals. Every country is trying to airlift their diplomats and citizens out of Afghanistan. The UN on the other hand is striving to rescue international diplomats and workers in Afghanistan. The main issue is who shall come forward for the liberation of Afghan nationals? UN must take cognizance of the issue and take needful demarche.
An additional problem that is hanging around is the issue regarding refugees. Many of the countries have made themselves available for taking Afghan refugees under their asylum. The majority of these countries are already battling poverty and lack of resources. The UN must fund these countries. This will kill two birds with one stone. The countries providing refugees will be in a better position to help the refugees and other nations will also encourage other nations to take refugees from Afghanistan. Apart from this, the UN must build the necessary infrastructure for the survival of Afghan nationals who have stayed back in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s illegal opium. Taliban control in the country has adverse implications in the matter. Inadequate planning and execution on part of International authorities may turn out to be deadly for humans.
Afghanistan is torn by the current situation. It is high time that the UN should take the matter into its own hands and provide security and assistance to Afghanistan in whatever way possible. The international organization cannot stay mute keeping a hand on hand. Sheer violation of human rights in Afghanistan is heart-wrenching. International and collective response to the problem is necessary and much demanded. Grave violations against children and women will be on the rise if nothing is done. Children in Afghanistan are seeing terrorizing and inhumane conditions when youngsters from their generation are visiting schools and are getting trained for the future. Women have no rights and chances to raise their voices in such a situation. People are missing necessities and rights. Afghanistan has a good population of multi-faceted youth which is finding forays in the international domain. International guardian figures must ponder on their duties in Afghanistan and must make attempts at mitigating the situation and protecting the rights of all these communities.
Shubhangi Verma, is a student pursuing law from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University. She has a budding interest in Human Rights, Constitutional Law and International Law.