Afghan-ElectionsVia the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program
By Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law, Robert Bordone 

During the past week, many voices have raised questions about the negotiated agreement resolving the disputed election in Afghanistan. Although the agreement was lauded in some quarters, others have asked whether the agreement will last or whether the parties are in fact fully invested in the power-sharing arrangement. My question is about why the vote count wasn’t announced—and about what that means for the legitimacy of the democratic process in the election.

There is an inherent tension between transparency and secrecy in negotiation, particularly in high-stakes political situations. The strong association between full transparency and democracy in the American public’s imagination has only grown more inextricable as our awareness of own government’s covert activities has deepened. The assumption seems to be that if the parties aren’t sharing information with the public, there must be something amiss about what is being discussed behind closed doors.

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