The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Supporting democracy in Afghanistan

This article was published more than two years ago. Some information may no longer be accurate.

UNOPS is providing operational support to the country’s new electoral complaints commission.


Last year marked the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history, and UNOPS supported the historic moment by setting up and providing full operational support to the Afghanistan Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) right in time for the elections. The newly permanent commission is giving credibility and legitimacy to the electoral process in the country.

UNOPS provision of support to the IECC commenced in October 2013 on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme and in close consultation with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), which provides technical support and assistance to the IECC on all aspects of electoral dispute resolution.

As part of its role, UNOPS recruited 472 staff during 2014, and at its peak the commission had 350 staff to run the secretariat in Kabul and the 34 provincial offices.

UNOPS procured office space – both premises and containers – as well as furniture, stationery, IT and communications equipment, and other necessary supplies, in addition to upgrading security standards for personnel. Making use of emergency procurement procedures, UNOPS promptly met all short-notice and last-minute requests that were necessary to ensure the IECC was operational and functional in time for the presidential and provincial council elections on April 5.

Most people didn't believe the IECC could be set up in time and thought that the commission would fail, resulting in a negative effect on the electoral process as a whole. What we managed to achieve in the face of immense challenges and short timelines was nothing short of remarkable, and came down to the dedication of the project team. We never considered failure as an option.

Dominic Grant - UNOPS Project Manager

Additionally, UNOPS and IFES supported a series of open sessions, where complaints were presented in front of observers, civil society organizations and media representatives, making the grievance handling process more transparent – the first time this had ever happened in Afghanistan. This included helping with the production of public service announcements before, during and after the complaints adjudication process.

Now that the IECC is fully established and operational, UNOPS is developing the capacity of the staff in human resources management, recruitment, payroll, performance evaluations, procurement, logistics, finance and more.

Counting on UNOPS

After the presidential elections took place, the close results spurred the two candidates to opt for a total recount of the over eight million votes, a two-month process that ended on 15 September.

With the recount being conducted in four warehouses during the summer, UNOPS was asked to help alleviate the oppressive heat by sourcing and providing a cooling system and generators, which were quickly delivered, allowing hundreds of people to get on with the difficult task at hand.

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