UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Mandate Renewal*
This afternoon (15 March), the Security Council is expected to vote on a “technical rollover” resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for six months until 17 September.
While five rounds of negotiations of the full Council and several bilateral meetings were held among Council members on the draft, the decision to pursue a technical rollover was taken after two members remained deadlocked on whether to maintain a reference to the Belt and Road Initiative in the context of welcoming regional economic cooperation. This reference to the Belt and Road Initiative in the context of regional economic cooperation has been included in the past three UNAMA resolutions.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a development project spearheaded by the Chinese government designed to strengthen regional cooperation and connect regions trans-continentally through infrastructure and investment projects.
China maintains that this initiative and other regional cooperation efforts help to promote socioeconomic development and contribute to overall stability and security in Afghanistan and the broader region. The current US administration has been critical of the Belt and Road initiative, expressing concern about its impact on US national security interests.
It appears that the reason why members have decided to roll the mandate over for six months, rather than a shorter period, is that they do not want discussions of the mandate to interfere with preparations for the upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan, which are scheduled for July. At the Council briefing on Afghanistan on 11 March (S.PV/8481), several members emphasised the importance of holding credible presidential elections in July, and reiterated their support for UNAMA.
The draft resolution to be adopted today is under two pages in length. (Resolution 2405, which was adopted in March 2018 and renewed the UNAMA mandate for one year, was just under 12 pages.) Among other things, in addition to extending the mandate for six months, the draft resolution in blue recognises that the renewed mandate “is in support of Afghanistan’s full assumption of leadership and ownership in the security, governance, and development areas”, and calls upon “all Afghan and international parties to coordinate with UNAMA in the implementation of its mandate”. The draft also requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months, including on progress with regard to benchmarks for the implementation of the UNAMA mandate.
* The second paragraph of the story was slightly edited on 15 March for the purpose of accuracy.