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Inquiry into Afghanistan and the UK's engagement launched by Lords Committee

24 July 2020

Today the International Relations and Defence Committee launches its inquiry into the UK's engagement with Afghanistan.

Scope of the inquiry

The Committee's inquiry will explore the UK's diplomatic, military and aid strategy for Afghanistan, including scrutiny of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defence. It will consider the UK's work with international partners such as the US, NATO, and the Afghan government. It will also consider the regional dynamics of instability in Afghanistan, the implementation of the agreement between the US and the Taliban for the withdrawal of foreign troops, and prospects for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Chair's comments

“Following the UK's active engagement in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda between 2001 and 2014, the UK continues to have around 1000 troops stationed in Afghanistan in a non-combat role.

“We are seeking to look closely at the UK Government's role and aims in the country, in the context of the planned US withdrawal announced in February 2020. The people of Afghanistan have suffered as a result of instability, conflict and underdevelopment; the Department for International Development recently described Afghanistan as “one of the poorest countries in the world”. The UK has committed significant military, aid and diplomatic resources to Afghanistan since 2001, and has an ongoing interest in a sustainable political settlement being reached.

“We are looking for evidence to inform us about the effectiveness of the UK's engagement in  Afghanistan, and what role it should play in the future. An important part of this inquiry will be the effective scrutiny of the work of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defence in Afghanistan.”

Focus of the inquiry

The Committee is seeking evidence to address the following questions.

Geopolitical Environment

  • Which countries are playing the most significant role in Afghanistan's political and security environment?
  • What are the prospects for the implementation of the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban signed in February?
  • What might US policy to Afghanistan look like under each of the US presidential candidates?
  • Which non-state actors are most active in Afghanistan?
  • What is your assessment of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan?

Domestic Context

  • What is your assessment of the functioning of Afghanistan's constitutional arrangements?
  • What is the outlook for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban following the US Taliban peace agreement?
  • What is the state of the Afghan military and civilian forces? What further international support will be needed?
  • What are Afghanistan's principal economic sectors and trade relationships?

The UK

  • What are the UK's national security and foreign policy interests in Afghanistan? What are the UK's objectives for its engagement?
  • What will be the impact of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan on the UK?
  • The UK is a significant aid donor to Afghanistan. How effective are its ODA programmes and how do they compare to those of other countries?
  • How effective have the UK's military training activities been in Afghanistan?
  • How influential is the UK in Afghanistan, and in international discussions about Afghanistan?
  • How well co-ordinated are the UK's activities in Afghanistan in terms of aid, defence and diplomacy? What impact will the merger of the FCO and DfID have?


  • What impact is the COVID-19 pandemic having on Afghanistan?

For the full list of shared priorities and the issues on which the Committee is seeking written evidence, please refer to the Call for evidence.

Further information