Afghanistan’s Political and Constitutional Development

Chris Johnson, William Maley, Alexander Thier, Ali Wardak

Allbwn ymchwil: Llyfr/AdroddiadAdroddiad aralladolygiad gan gymheiriaid


The events of 11 September brought dramatic changes to the political landscape of Afghanistan. For the first time in more than two decades, there was a real possibility of peace and stability in the country. Unlike in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, this time the international community pledged not to walk away. Yet Afghanistan remains riven by factional power, and progress towards the broad-based and fully representative government envisaged in the Bonn agreement remains elusive.

This report – the product of hundreds of conversations with Afghans as well as key members of the international community – aims to identify ‘the key issues underpinning Afghanistan’s constitutional and political development’ and the ‘key policy options for the Afghan Transitional Administration (ATA) and other members of the international community’. It argues, however, that achieving
the constitutional and electoral processes provided for under the Bonn Agreement will first and foremost depend upon
improvements in security throughout the country. This qill require substantially greater progress than has so far been seen in the formation of a professional, multi-ethnic national army; the demobilisation and reintegration of armed personnel; and measures to reduce warlord power and action on drugs.

At the heart of the debate on the constitution and elections is the wish to build a peaceful and stable state. To achieve this, the government must build a minimum level of legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. The achievement of such legitimacy is a complex process. This report is concerned primarily with the formal systems of governance, including the constitutional and electoral
processes. Equally important will be issues regarding fiscal policy and reform of the public administration.

This report argues that there is a need for a wide-ranging public consultation on the draft constitution, and that the lessons from the Emergency loya jirga must be acted upon in the organising of the Constitutional loya jirga. Getting the relationship between the centre and the provinces right will be one of the key challenges for those tasked with deciding upon the structures of government. More broadly, structures and systems of government that maximise representation and stability and reduce the tendency towards conflict will be vital if Afghanistan is not to return to war.

A key element of any state is its justice system, and this report considers both the formal system and its relationship with traditional mechanisms of dispute resolution. It argues that the two need to work together to produce a service that is accessible to all, fair and free of corruption. Justice also requires an ending of the long-standing climate of impunity in Afghanistan, and ensuring that human rights are both fully guaranteed within the constitution, and protected in practice. This must include the rights of women, so long denied under both the Taliban and previous administrations. As part of action on human rights, there needs to be political, financial and administrative support to the independent Human Rights Commission.

If elections are to be held according to the timetable agreed at Bonn, major improvements need to be made in security. Substantial and credible human, material and financial resources must be committed soon, and an independent electoral commission should be appointed in order to address the many complex questions associated with the election process. If security does not improve, and free and fair elections cannot be assured, the election timetable should be renegotiated.

In order to fulfil its pledge to Afghanistan’s people, and to have any chance of seeing peace and stability, the international community needs to sustain its engagement in the country over the coming years. Specifically, it needs to maintain a long-term political engagement with the country; commit to long-term funding at an adequate level for reconstruction; ensure that this funding is provided in a principled, accountable and transparent fashion that supports the state rather than factional interests; and commit to a long-term presence for international security assistance forces.
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Man cyhoeddiLondon
CyhoeddwrUK Department for International Development
Nifer y tudalennau54
ISBN (Argraffiad)0850036356
StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 2003

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