First draft of new Afghan constitution to be ready by March, UN says

First draft of new Afghan constitution to be ready by March, UN says

In another sign that Afghanistan is on the road to recovery, the country's leaders have set in motion a broad consultative process aimed at drafting the preliminary elements of a new constitution by March, the United Nations mission said in Kabul.

According to a spokesman for the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), once that draft is completed, wide consultations with civil society and experts in all 32 provinces as well as among Afghans in other countries will follow. A final draft is expected to be ready by October, and will be submitted to the Constitutional Loya Jirga for adoption as stipulated in the Bonn Agreement of 2001.

In a press briefing from Kabul yesterday, Afghan Vice-President Naematullah Shahrani, Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Commission, called on representatives of the international community for donor support, noting that the Commission's budget of $2.8 million does not include the future Loya Jirga. He also announced that President Hamid Karzai is working on the establishment of the Constitutional Commission, which will absorb the Drafting Commission.

Mr. Shahrani said that the future constitution would be based on Islamic principles, Afghan legal traditions as well as international norms and standards. "Hopefully," he said, "the new constitution will move the country away from isolation and show the world that Afghanistan wants to be integrated into the international community."

The Constitutional Drafting Commission was inaugurated on 3 November. Its membership consists of nine legal scholars and jurists. UNAMA, with the support of UNDP, will be responsible for coordinating technical and financial inputs to this process.