The UN and the peace process in Afghanistan


Kairat Umarov, head of the sanctions committee of the Security Council of the UN and his fellow delegation visited Kabul on 29 Oct 2017 and discussed the issue of peace and security in his meetings with the Afghan President, Chief Executive and other government officials.

According to the Deputy Spokesperson of the Afghan President, in the meeting between the Afghan President and Umarov, the Afghan President reiterated on the role of the UN to maintain peace in Afghanistan and said that the Afghan government had always kept the doors for negotiations with the Taliban open and that the peace with the Taliban was feasible through intra-Afghan talks. Nevertheless, in his meeting with Umarov, the Afghan Chief Executive has demanded the inclusion of the name of head of the Taliban Mawlawi Hebattullah Akhundzada and other members of the group in the sanction list of the UN Security Council.

The two different demands, one for peace with the Taliban and another for the inclusion of the names of Taliban leaders in the UN blacklist, indicate the differences between the Afghan President and the Chief Executive.  

Peace in Afghanistan is an issue that besides the Afghan government and people, many regional and international countries and organizations are striving to maintain. However, not only these efforts have not led to maintenance of peace in this country but has even further deteriorated the situation.

Here we have analyzed the role of the UN in the Afghan issue, the UN blacklist, and the Afghan government’s call for the inclusion of the names of the Taliban leaders in the UN sanctions list. 


Afghanistan and the UN

In 1945, after the end of the World War II, the United Nations (UN) was established and substituted the League of Nations (LN). This international organization that was first formed by 51 countries of the world had 193 member countries in 2006. Almost all of the countries that are recognized in international levels are members of the UN. Taiwan and Vatican are the only two countries that are not members of the UN. [1]

Afghanistan gained the membership of the UN in 9 November 1946 and Mohammad Kabir Lodin was the first Afghan permanent representative in the UN. After him, Abdul Majid Aziz, Abdurrahman Pazhwak, Besmellah Sahak, Farid Zarif, Shah Mohammad Dost, Nor Ahmad, Khudaidad Basharmal, Rawan Farhadi, Zaher Tanin and Mahmood Saiqal were the Afghan representatives in the UN from 1950 until now. [2]

Until the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979, the UN did not have tangible presence in Afghanistan. However, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, issuing resolutions, the UN protested against it and after seeing the unfavorable consequences of the invasion, the various institutions of the UN started their activities in Afghanistan. The Geneva Accords, signed in 1988, was also a result of the efforts of the UN.

After the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the UN made efforts to find a political solution for the war in Afghanistan. In 1991, the UN proposed a plan based on which Dr. Najibullah had to step down from power and transfer political power to an independent administration and this administration had to pave the way for holding the elections and drafting the Afghan constitution. Nonetheless, with the collapse of Dr. Najibullah’s government this plan failed. [3]

During the civil war in Afghanistan, once again, the UN tried to bring the combating factions and their leaders around the negotiation table. Although these parties sat around the tables for several times, they failed to implement their agreements. During the Taliban regime, the UN tried to make peace between the Taliban and the representatives of the Northern Coalition. Within this period, the UN also formed the group of (Six +Two) to resolve the Afghan issue, but the consecutive meetings of this group did not have any tangible achievements for Afghanistan.

With the collapse of the Taliban regime, this organization started its activities in Afghanistan and committed itself for various missions such as the creation of the administrative system; the convention of Loya Jirga (the Afghan National Assembly defined in the Afghan constitution); maintenance of peace, order, and security; reconstruction; attraction of financial aids; and holding elections. Currently, about 20 institutions of the UN are active in various areas in Afghanistan.


The UN sanction-list

The UN Security Council is one of the pillars of the UN and based on the Article-24 of the UN Charter, it is the primary responsible entity to maintain international peace and security. Based on the UN Charter, the Security Council must act on behalf of the members of the UN to serve this purpose. [4]

Based on the seventh Chapter of the UN Charter, the Security Council can undertake executive measures to maintain and restore international peace and security. These measures include actions from economic sanctions to military option.

The sanction list of the UN, also called “blacklist”, is a means to pressurize particular countries, institutions, and individuals to persuade them to follow the objectives defined by the Security Council without the use of force. A person, country, or institution’s name can be added to this list with the demand of a member of the UN and after the approval of the Security Council. All the member countries of the UN are obliged to implement these sanctions.

These sanctions include freezing assets, imposing travel bans, and banning the direct or indirect sales of weaponry to the individuals and groups that are the subject of these sanctions. These sanctions are applicable until they are lifted.

The sanctions-list of the UN include two parts: the first include the names of individuals and, currently, the names of 642 individuals are included in this list and the second consists of the names of institutions and groups and until now 368 institutions and groups are added to this list[5].


The demand to include the Taliban Leader in the blacklist

The 1267 (1999) and 1988 (2011) committees of the Security Council commonly work on imposing sanctions on the individuals that are involved in “terrorist” activities in Afghanistan. The first committee was established to monitor the sanctions on Al-Qaeda and “IS” and the second committee was formed to oversee sanctions on the Taliban. The 15 members of the Security Council are present in both committees.

Currently, the sanctions list of 1988 committee consists the names of 170 individuals and five institution (Haqqani Network, Two cashier offices and two companies). Most of these individuals are the leaders and some active members of the Taliban. On the other hand, recently, 27 members of the Taliban, Haqqani Network and Hizb-e-Islami were removed from this list.

The Afghan President had demanded the inclusion of the name of Mullah Hebattullah in the UN sanction list about one and a half year ago, now, while he says that peace is an intra-Afghan process, he meets head of the UN sanction committee and talks about how to make peace with the Taliban, something that is a clear contradiction in his stances regarding the peace process.

On the other hand, the National Unity Government seeks peace through imposing sanctions and increasing pressures on the armed oppositions of the government. The spokesperson of the Chief Executive has said that “with the inclusion of the names of the leaders of the Taliban the way for peace will be paved.” [6] The policy of peace through war is a failed policy that is why the Afghan High Peace Council have opposed the position of the Chief Executive.

Overall, the maintenance of peace in Afghanistan requires realistic efforts. Imposing sanctions and many other types of pressures in the past one and a half decade have not only failed to defeat the Taliban and maintain peace and stability in Afghanistan but also have intensified the war in the country. As after the announcement of the new US strategy towards South Asia and Afghanistan, in which the suppression of the Taliban and the continuation of the war have been reiterated upon, the attacks by the Taliban has increased and the current war in Afghanistan continues.



Although the UN has provided large quantities of aids for Afghanistan, particularly after 2001, the UN does not have a bright background in areas of peace in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Taliban have always questioned the impartiality of this organization.

In addition, despite the assistances of the UN, the Afghan government does not have political stability and has been the victim of internal differences since its formation and recently these differences have reached their heights.

In the past 16 years, the Afghan government has failed to undertake an efficient policy to make peace with the Taliban. Currently, although the Afghan government says the peace with the Taliban to be its priority and reiterates that the doors for peace are open, it also asks for imposing sanctions on the Taliban, something that can never help the peace process.

The End

[1] United nation, History of the United Nation, see it online:

[2] Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United in New York:”Former Permanent Representatives”:

[3] Read more here:

[4] Read the complete Charter of the UN here:


[5] Read more here:

[6] Radio Azadi, «عبدالله عبدالله: هبت‌الله و اعضای دیگر طالبان شامل لیست تعزیرات ملل‌متحد شوند» [Abdullah: Hebattullah and other Taliban members must be included in the UN black list.], 8 Aqrab 1396:

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