Eighth anniversary today of 2001 Afghan Interim Authority

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It has been eight years since the inauguration of the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) created by a group of Afghan leaders who - under the auspices of the United Nations - drew up plans in Bonn, Germany on how Afghanistan should be governed.

Eight years ago today on 22 December 2001, the AIA was established upon the official transfer of power from the government of then Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani to the 30-member AIA whose six-month interim administration would be chaired by Hamid Karzai.

The participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan had earlier invited the former King of Afghanistan, His Majesty Mohammed Zaher, to chair the Interim Administration but King Zaher indicated that he would prefer a suitable candidate acceptable to the participants.

Before this historic date, Afghanistan had been without any national government for 22 years since 1979.

As Afghanistan ushered in a new Interim Administration in Kabul eight years ago, Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Representative in Afghanistan of then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the historic chance for stability in the war-shattered country must succeed.

"With the Interim Administration that is being established today, the people of Afghanistan have a unique opportunity to put behind them the divisions, hatred and bloodshed of the past two decades and rebuild a peaceful and stable nation," said Mr Brahimi during the hand-over ceremony in Kabul on 22 December 2001.

"After years of bitter war and conflict, power is being transferred from one administration to another - not under the fire of guns, but peacefully, and pursuant to a political agreement," the UN envoy added, referring to arrangements earlier worked out during the 5 December 2001 UN-sponsored talks among Afghan factions in Bonn.

Otherwise known as the "UN talks on Afghanistan," the Bonn Agreement was officially titled the Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions. It is a series of agreements that intended to recreate the State of Afghanistan after the country was invaded by US forces following the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Under the agreement, "The Interim Authority shall consist of an Interim Administration presided over by a Chairman, a Special Independent Commission for the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga, and a Supreme Court of Afghanistan, as well as such other courts as may be established by the Interim Administration."

To adopt a new Constitution for Afghanistan, the Bonn Agreement had also mandated the AIA to convene a Constitutional Loya Jirga within eighteen months of the establishment of the Transitional Authority.

And to assist the Constitutional Loya Jirga in crafting the proposed Constitution, the Bonn Agreement further tasked the AIA to establish - with assistance from the United Nations - a Constitutional Commission within two months of its commencement.

Used as the basis for the making of the new Constitution was Afghanistan's old Constitution of 1964. The New Constitution would be adopted by the Loya Jirga on 4 January 2004.

The Bonn Agreement had also requested the assistance of the United Nations in the establishment, among others, of the following institutions:

The Judicial Commission "to rebuild the domestic justice system in accordance with Islamic principles, international standards, the rule of law and Afghan legal traditions";

The Central Bank of Afghanistan that will "regulate the money supply of the country through transparent and accountable procedures";

The Independent Civil Service Commission "to provide the Interim Authority and the future Transitional Authority with shortlists of candidates for key posts in the administrative departments, as well as those of governors and uluswals, in order to ensure their competence and integrity"; and the

The Independent Human Rights Commission "whose responsibilities will include human rights monitoring, investigation of violations of human rights, and development of domestic human rights institutions."

"This agreement, though far from perfect, has been warmly welcomed by the people of Afghanistan, and strongly supported by all the countries of the world," noted Mr Brahimi who then assured Afghanistan and the international community that the United Nations "will do everything it can to assist in the implementation of the Bonn Agreement and the success of the Interim Administration."

By Aurora V. Alambra, UNAMA

Read the Bonn Agreement and the 22 December 2001 UN News Centre article on the hand-over of the Afghan government to the Afghanistan Interim Authority.