On Monday morning (23 July), the Security Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement on the electoral process in Afghanistan. This follows the conclusion of the voter registration process on 18 July for this year’s parliamentary and district council elections and for the 2019 presidential elections. It seems that the Netherlands, the penholder on Afghanistan, intended on the one hand for the Council to send a supportive message to Afghanistan for the progress made, and on the other hand to signal the Council’s intention to follow developments closely, especially the outstanding aspects of electoral preparations. The other members supported the Netherlands’ initiative. It appears that Afghanistan itself, as well as the Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Tadamichi Yamamoto, were also supportive of such a Council product.
The Council has frequently adopted presidential statements in the run-up to, and after, elections in Afghanistan. Most recently, it adopted a presidential statement welcoming the holding of the second round of presidential elections in 2014 (S/PRST/2014/11).
This year’s parliamentary and district council elections are scheduled for 20 October. The statement notes that, according to preliminary data, more than 8.9 million Afghans, including more than three million women, have registered to vote. The statement also points out areas where progress is still needed in order for credible elections to be held, including the establishment of a central database of registered voters and the publication of a final list of candidates for this year’s elections. The Council states that it looks forward to the thorough verification of registered voters, appearing to anticipate that irregularities may occur during the elections. The Council furthermore emphasises the need to fill vacancies within the electoral management bodies (the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission).
Drawing upon agreed language, the Council stresses the need to promote the full and safe participation of women, both as voters and candidates. A proposal from Sweden was added stressing the importance of addressing sexual- and gender-based violence against female voters and candidates.
Language was similarly incorporated in the text on the need for the full and safe participation of minority groups in the electoral process. One member asked to further specify that this term included ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, and this request was accommodated.
The presidential statement requests UNAMA to update Council members on electoral preparations within one month of the adoption of the statement. While one member introduced the idea of a one-page written update, another member preferred to leave the format open, and this option was incorporated into the text. The Department of Political Affairs and UNAMA will therefore have discretion in deciding how to update the Council.
Overall, all members were supportive of the idea of the Council expressing itself on the electoral process in Afghanistan and no sit-down negotiations were needed. The first draft was circulated last week via e-mail and opened for comments. After incorporating suggestions, the text was put under silence, which was broken by the UK and Russia on issues related to how UNAMA would update the Council and how minority groups were specified, respectively. After addressing these points, the draft passed a second silence period.