This article explores the delivery of strategies for human security, protection and empowerment, using as case study the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) during 2002 and 2003. This UN operation took place in the context of the international interventions in Afghanistan and was a direct consequence of the US-led war on terror and the post-conflict state-building process which ensued. It was tasked to address the immediate human insecurity. The analysis of this mission highlights the pertinent issues which relate to the development of an effective human security approach and which apply to UN operations in general. It is vital, in this respect, to examine the compatibility between the strategies of protection and empowerment, as human security now forms a central value of UN operations. This exploration, in turn, questions the distinct role of the UN in dealing with human insecurity in post-conflict situations.