Afghanistan Constitutional Reform Resources

(L) Initialling of agreement on National Unity Government (full text). Right to Left (seated). Muhammad Haneef Atmar,Wahidullah Shahrani. Witnessed by Jan Kubis, UN SRSG and John Cunningham, Ambassador of the U.S. in Afghanistan.

(R) Exchange of signed copies of Agreement on National Unity Government. (Abdullah Abdullah (left) and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai)

After long and difficult negotiations, on September 21, 2014, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah signed an agreement to form a National Unity Government. This signed agreement implemented a previous informal agreement between the two candidates brokered by U.S. Senator John Kerry on July 12.  Later that same day the Independant Election Commission announced that Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai had won the elections without providing the specific vote count.  The candidates had agreed to withhold the precise results in order to prevent the re-emergence of protests over alleged electoral fraud.

John Kerry, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, and Abdullah Abdullah, press conference, Kabul, July 12, 2014 | © R Gul of AP

The July 12 agreement included short-term provisions to resolve the dispute over who won the election, medium-term pro visions to form a national unity government, and long-term provisions to establish the office of prime minister. Such a change in the system of government would require a constitutional amendment enacted by a Loya Jirga, which the new administration will convene within two years. Afghans hope that constitutional reform will prevent future crises over winner-take-all elections.

Lakhdar Brahimi, Abdullah Abdullah, and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Constitutional Loya Jirga, Kabul, December 26, 2003 | © Barnett Rubin

Creation of a prime minister's office might facilitate power sharing – but only if the powers of the president and prime minister are designed to prevent a deadlock. Sharing power in an effective government can help stabilize the country. Sharing powerlessness in a paralyzed government will not. During the constitutional process of 2002-2004, the Center on International Cooperation's Afghanistan Reconstruction Project (now Afghanistan Regional Project) commissioned papers by international experts on questions facing the constitutional commission. These papers were published in English, Dari, and Pashto in Afghanistan: Towards a New Constitution (Center on International Cooperation, New York University, July 2003) and posted on a dedicated web page for ease of reference. In support of the implementation of the July 12 agreement, CIC is re-posting those papers relevant to the debate over amending the form of government in the Afghan constitution.

We also include an article on the drafting of the Afghan constitution by CIC Director Barnett R. Rubin. All papers express the views of the author(s) only, not CIC.

Afghan Constitutional Consultation Resources 2002 - 2004

Title Source Author Date
Afghanistan Towards a New Constitution |افغانستان: بسوي قانون اساسي جديد Various Various July 2013

Agreement between the Two Campaign Teams Regarding the Structure of the National Unity Government

CIC Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah September 2014
Crafting a Constitution for Afghanistan CIC Barnett Rubin July 2004
An Options Paper for the Constitutional Commission of Afghanistan | The System of Government CIC Yash Pal Ghai 2003
Center-Periphery Relations in the Afghan State: Current Practices, Future Prospects


CIC Helena Malikyar and Barnett R. Rubin June 5, 2002

Unitary or Federal: A False Choice? Decentralisation of State Powers in Afghanistan


CIC Yash Pal Ghai 2003
CIC  Bereket Habte Selassie 2003
CIC  CIC 2003
CIC  Barnett R. Rubin February 2003
Australian National University  Benjamin Reilly February 3, 2003
Duke University  Donald L. Horowitz January 2003 
CIC Jose Cheibub 2003
CIC William Maley 2003