Statement Attributable to the Spokesman of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) wholeheartedly welcomes the inauguration, of the Constitutional Review Commission. The 35-member commission, chaired by Vice-President Neamatullah Sharman, has a historic and challenging mandate, namely to conduct public consultations throughout the country and abroad in order to ascertain the aspirations of Afghans with regard to their future constitution. On that basis, it will review the work of the Drafting Commission and prepare the Draft Constitution to be submitted to the Constitutional Loyal Jirga in October 2003.

The Mission acknowledges the efforts of the Islamic Transitional Administration of Afghanistan to ensure that the Commission represents the regional, ethnic, professional and religious diversity of the Afghan nation and the full participation of women in the constitution-making process.

We are encouraged by the fact that the Commission’s Secretariat has recruited and trained staff who are now deployed in all provinces of Afghanistan as well as in Iran and Pakistan. They will inform the population about the process, in cooperation with civil society organizations, and prepare the ground for the public consultation scheduled to start in late May.

The international community is honored to provide assistance for this process. UNAMA and United Nations Development Programmed (UNDP) note with satisfaction the pledges of financial support made by a number of donors towards the work of the Commission and trust that the constitution-making process will thus be given a solid financial underpinning.

We are aware of the difficulties the 35 commissioners will face over the next five months. In addition to the logistical challenges involved in holding a meaningful dialogue with very broad segments of Afghan society, constitution-making necessarily raises controversial and emotional issues; and it does so in a society that is still reeling from years of civil war. But this process can make a unique contribution not only to the building of a more representative state but also tithe forging of stronger national unity. We wish the Commission every success in this undertaking and pledge the continued support of the United Nations.