UN-mandated assessment proposes new process for Afghanistan with key recommendations

A United Nations-mandated assessment report on Afghanistan, being discussed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members on Friday, has put forward three pivotal recommendations to initiate a fresh process aimed at addressing the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.

Conducted by UN Special Coordinator for Afghanistan, Feridun Sinirlioglu, the assessment recommends the following:

UN-Convened Large Group Format:

The report advocates for the continuation of the UN-convened large group format, the most comprehensive platform in existence. Initiated in May 2023 by the Secretary-General, this Special Envoys format should persist in meeting regularly to uphold international unity and enhance cooperation in engagement, the report says. Meetings could take place at the Special Envoy or, as appropriate, Foreign Minister level, according to the report.

As an initial step to implement these recommendations, the UN is urged to initiate consultations with all stakeholders promptly. This would lead to another meeting of the large group format, where the conclusions and recommendations from the assessment can be discussed, particularly in relation to this format and the proposed contact group, as stated in the report.

International Contact Group:

The report proposes the formation of a smaller contact group, selected from and linked to the large group format. This contact group would coordinate actions and approaches among international stakeholders, sustain and deepen engagement, and play a more prominent role in active and continuous political engagement with Afghan stakeholders, including the de facto authorities (Taliban), according to the report.

The report emphasizes the importance of the contact group having the support of all international stakeholders for enhanced effectiveness. Affirmations of support from the UN Security Council are seen as crucial to bolster the group’s influence, the report says.

Appointment of UN Special Envoy:

The assessment recommends the appointment of a UN Special Envoy to ensure dedicated resources for facilitating engagement among international and Afghan stakeholders.

The Special Envoy would spearhead coordination and connect with proposed and existing platforms, the report says, adding that additionally, the envoy should represent the UN in the international contact group and support its functions and regular convening.

The envoy’s mandate should focus on diplomacy between Afghanistan and international stakeholders, as well as advancing intra-Afghan dialogue, the report says, adding that the mandate is designed to complement the existing role of the UN in Afghanistan.