Asian Law Center

Countries in Focus - Afghanistan

In 2004 we expanded the Asian Law Center's focus to Central Asia in the Afghan Legal Educators Project. Renewed in 2012 for an additional five years and funded by a major U.S. Department of State grant, this project underscores our commitment to public service lawyering.

UW Hosts Study Tour for Seven Deans from Law and Shari’a Faculties Representing Seven Universities in Afghanistan

The University of Washington School of Law’s Legal Education Support Program-Afghanistan (LESPA), hosted a study tour for seven deans from Law and Shari’a faculties representing seven universities in Afghanistan. For most participants, this was their first trip to the United States. At UW the group observed classes and met with law school faculty, attended presentations highlighting institutional development, and visited the Tulalip Tribal Court to observe the Law School’s Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic. The group also traveled to New York and Washington DC for meetings at the United Nations, the Embassy of Afghanistan, US government officials, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.

Funded by the US Department of State-INL, LESPA has worked to support legal education in Afghanistan since 2004. In addition to hosting Visiting Scholars, LLM and PhD students from Afghanistan at the Law School, LESPA runs many programs in Afghanistan through its Kabul office. LESPA is currently working with 25 Law and Shari’a faculties at 17 universities throughout Afghanistan and is currently funded into 2017.

UW Law Welcomes Visiting Scholars and Graduate Students for the 2013-14 Academic Year

3 ALC LLM Students

On September 16, 2013, we welcomed the new incoming LLM & PhD students and Visiting Scholars with a reception after their all-day orientation. An estimated 150 students and scholars gathered in the William H. Gates Hall Galleria.

For the 2013-14 year, 50 are enrolled in the Asian Law Center's (ALC) Asian & Comparative Law LLM, Global Business Law LLM, and Sustainable International Development Law LLM program. The ALC is proud to announce that its LLM students represent 16 countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Krygzstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Uganda, USA, and Zimbabwe. Our students also come from diverse working backgrounds such as law lecturers & faculty, firm attorneys and managers, prosecutors, NGOs, small practice and/or business founders, and journalism. 

Asian Law LL.M. Student, Wasima Badghisy, Selected to Carry Banner at 2013 UW Graduation

Wasima Badghisy

Each year, UW chooses four graduate students who exemplify excellence in learning, teaching, mentoring and/or research to carry the banner at commencement. This year, Wasima Badghisy, a 2013 graduate of the Asian Law LL.M. program at the UW School of Law was chosen as one of the four.

Ms. Badghisy is an instructor on the faculty of Law and Political Science at Herat University in Afghanistan. Prof. Badghisy is the first woman from post-Taliban Afghanistan to earn an LL.M. degree from a major U.S. law school. She is a participant in the University of Washington School of Law’s Legal Education Support Program-Afghanistan (UW-LESPA) which has delivered capacity-building programs for Law and Shari’a faculties at universities throughout Afghanistan since 2005.

After graduation, Prof. Badghisy intends to return to Herat University and resume teaching.

U.S. Government Provides Grant to UW Law for Legal Educators Support Program for Afghanistan

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) on April 9, 2012 announced a $13 million grant to the University of Washington Law School’s Asian Law Center to continue an innovative legal education program for Afghanistan. The Legal Educators Support Program - Afghanistan (LESPA) provides graduate education opportunities to Afghan law deans, professors, and other professionals who will return to Afghanistan to continue as legal educators in universities. This grant will fund the University of Washington program for an additional five years into 2017. The program, formerly known as the University of Washington Afghan Legal Educators Program (UW-ALEP) commenced in 2004.

Prof. Clark Lombardi Writes on Islamic Review in Afghanistan

Prof. Clark Lombardi wrote a position paper on Islamic review in Afghanistan for the U.S. Institute for Peace. Prof. Lombardi's paper "Challenges and Opportunities of Islamic Review: Lessons for Afghanistan from the Experiences of other Muslim Countries" discusses "Shari`a Clauses" in the constitutions of Muslim countries. The paper grew out of a keynote address Prof. Lombardi gave in Kabul at a conference on Afghan constitutionalism in September 2011.

UW Afghan Legal Educators Program Runs Highly Successful Program in Herat for 7 Afghan Universities

31 faculty members and 33 students from Albironi, Balkh, Herat, Kabul, Khost, Kunduz and Takhar universities recently participated in an 8 week Academic Legal English program in Herat, Afghanistan run by the UW Afghan Legal Educators Program under sponsorship from the US Department of State-INL. Project Director Prof. Jon Eddy (UW J.D. ‘69) and Project Manager Alice Stokke traveled to Herat for the graduation ceremony which was also attended by US and Afghan officials. The Academic Legal English program works with participants from both the Shari’a and Law and Political Science faculties at Afghan universities. Implemented by Mark Hough (UW J.D. ‘71) and Patti McLaughlin, teaching staff also included several local instructors as well as Prof. Laurel Oates from Seattle University School of Law and Craig Edelman. In addition to improving their English skills, participants studied substantive law topics, competed in a moot court and enjoyed field trips to some of Afghanistan’s cultural highlights in Herat.

Global Mondays Lecture on Rule of Law Projects in Liberia and in Afghanistan

On January 23, 2012, Sheila Weirth, LL.M. Candidate in Sustainable International Development, shared from her experience as a U.S. attorney serving as an international legal advisors for rule of law projects in support of the justice sectors in Liberia and in Afghanistan. After graduating from law school at the University of Washington, Sheila served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Seattle for King County from 1991-2006. In 2006 she moved to Monrovia, Liberia, as an International Legal Advisor with a Justice Sector Support Program. She worked with the Liberian Ministry of Justice, the US government, the UN, and other NGOs to help rebuild the criminal justice system of Liberia. In 2009 Sheila moved to Afghanistan where she was a Justice Advisor in Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat.

UW Conducts Summer Afghan Legal Educators Training Program in Kabul

In summer 2011 the University of Washington Afghan Legal Educators Program (UW-ALEP) conducted an Academic Legal English program (ALE) program to provide almost 30 law and Sharia professors and students from Nangarhar and Khandahar Universities a short term opportunity to increase legal and English skills, understand the value of English as a vehicle towards accessing legal information, and to strengthen the relationship between the University of Washington and universities in the south and east of Afghanistan.

Six Afghan Legal Educators Complete LL.M. Program

In 2011, six UW-ALEP participants successfully completed the LL.M. degree program at the University of Washington School of Law. Participants represent Albironi, Nangarhar and Kabul Universities. The State Department confirmed the program’s success by awarding an additional $1 million. These supplemental funds enable us to bring additional LLM students and visiting scholars and continue to develop innovative programming.

Learning from Tradition: Tribal Justice and the Rule of Law Workshop

The collaborative work of the Asian Law Center and the Native American Law Center on dispute resolution and the rule of law spans from Afghanistan to the Pacific Northwest. During a two-day workshop in June 2011, practitioners and academics who have worked in Afghan rule of law efforts or Native American justice systems exchanged views about synthesizing western rule of law and traditional values of tribal societies.

Since 2007 the U.S. Department of State-INL-sponsored U.S. Afghan Legal Educators Program at UW Law has explored lessons learned from the US colonization of Native American peoples and attempted displacement of traditional justice systems by western adversarial models. Since the United States' abandonment of this effort forty years ago and its replacement with a policy supporting tribal self-determination, unique hybrid tribal justice systems have proliferated. In these systems tribal communities choose when to adopt an adversarial model and when to use traditional methods of dispute resolution. In Afghanistan, the Kabul government struggles to implement its authority throughout Afghanistan with western assistance and pressure to achieve rule of law on a western model. At the same time, a substantial majority of dispute resolution in Afghanistan occurs entirely outside the formal justice system.

UW Workshop Focuses on Recent Controversial Blasphemy Cases in Afghanistan

In June 2011 the UW School of Law Afghan Legal Educator’s Project and the UW Jackson School of International Studies, South Asia Center, with the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, held a public workshop entitled "Who Defines Islamic Crimes in Afghanistan? Lawyers, Judges and the Interpretation of Uncodified Blasphemy Law."  The workshop allowed Afghans and American scholars of classical Islamic law, as well as students and visiting scholars at UW Law, to discuss the recent Afghan blasphemy cases that have been so controversial -- the cases of Abdul Karim, Parwiz Kambaksh and Ghaus Zalmai.

Additional Afghan Legal Educators Complete LL.M. Program

2010 LLM Graduates

In 2010, five UW-ALEP participants successfully completed the LL.M. program. Participants represented Balkh, Herat, Albironi and Nangarhar Universities. Each of these participants also received specialized clinical law training from the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic.

Afghan Legal Educators Participate in Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic

NALC Tribal Criminal Defense Clinic

Since 2009, seventeen Afghan professors and recent graduates have participated in the Law School’s Native American Law Center’s Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic. Working directly with J.D. students on active cases under faculty supervision, participants gained firsthand knowledge of tribal laws and the relationship of tribal courts to our state and federal court systems. Afghan faculty also worked closely with UWLS clinical faculty to gain an instructor’s perspective and learn how to run law school-based legal clinics that can be replicated in Afghanistan. Our collaboration with NALC provides a unique opportunity for a dialogue between Native American tribal justice leaders and the Afghan legal community about analogous challenges faced by the Afghan legal system.

Afghan Legal Educators Discuss the Changing Legal Terrain in Afghanistan with the WSBA International Practice Section

ALE Presentation to WSBA International Practice Section

In May 2010, the International Practice section of the Washington State Bar Association hosted a CLE entitled "Afghanistan: A Changing Legal Terrain." Topics discussed included rule of law, how the legal systems (including Sharia law) differ from that of the United States, the existence of Afghan judicial independence, human rights (specifically the rights of women), and the investment situation in Afghanistan. A total of six panelists - Wahidullah Amiri, Hussain Ali Atefi, Mohammad Bashir Mobasher, Humayoun Rahimi, Mohammad Faridon Sorush, and Mohammad Ayub Yusufzai - formed a very informative and frank panel on the issues facing Afghanistan today.

Afghan Legal Educators Project Trains Afghan Jessup Moot Court Teams

Jessup Moot Cour Competition Opening Ceremony

In August 2009, the U.S. Department of State approved a supplemental grant for our Afghan Legal Educators Project to support training of an Afghan Jessup Moot Court at three Afghan universities; the successful team traveled to Washington DC in March 2010 to compete in the International Rounds and received the Spirit of the Jessup award from their peers. The grant continues to support study at the law school by Afghan students and professors as well as research and workshops in Afghanistan conducted by UW faculty.

Afghan Scholars Discuss the Role of Elders in Afghan Society

In February 2010, participants in the Afghan Legal Educators Program led a forum at the UW Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies entitled “The Role of Elders in Afghan Society,” to better explain the important role of the elders in Afghan society which is often inaccurately portrayed in American media. Wahidullah Amiri, Hussein Ali Atefi, M. Bashir Mobasher and M. Ayub Yusufzai, who are currently pursuing their LL.M degree in Asian and Comparative Law at the UW School of Law, shared from their own upbringing and family structure to demonstrate the cultural and social heritage of respect to the elders. This is a second such forum at the Ellison Center. In November 2009 the Afghan scholars shared from their experience with legal education in the U.S. compared to Afghanistan.

Afghan Legal Educators Program Hosts Dean and Professor from Kabul University Shari’a Faculty

Dean Mohammad Gran and Prof. Lutforahman Saeed of the Shari’a Faculty of Kabul University

Dean Mohammad Gran and Prof. Lutforahman Saeed of the Shari’a Faculty of Kabul University visited the University of Washington School of Law for two weeks in April 2009 under the auspices of the Afghan Legal Educators Project. They met with faculty members from the Law School and other UW departments and attended courses. They also met with faculty in the UWLS clinical law program about the possibility of establishing clinical law programs in Kabul. Dean Gran delivered an address to approximately 70 people at the University of Puget Sound on Islamic Law and Women's Rights in Afghanistan, co-sponsored by the UPS departments of Religion; Spirituality, Service and Social Justice; Politics and Government; and Gender Studies. Prof. Saeed addressed students in Prof. Clark Lombardi’s Contemporary Islamic Legal Systems class on the topic of Customary Law in Afghanistan. They also visited Federal Court in Seattle where they observed a pro se litigant trial and traveled to Olympia where they met with legislators and observed legislative proceedings.

Pioneer Cohort of Female Legal Professionals from Afghanistan Joins Afghan Legal Educators Program

WA Governor Gregoire and visiting Afghan women legal educators

In April 2009 the Afghan Legal Educators Program brought to the U.S. a cohort comprised solely of female legal professionals from Afghanistan for a two week study tour at the University of Washington School of Law followed by several days in Washington, DC.

In Seattle they attended several short courses taught by UWLS faculty in a variety of subjects, visited local and federal courts, and observed tribal court and met with tribal court officials (coordinated by the Law School’s Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic). They spent two days in Olympia observing legislative sessions and meeting the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Supreme Court justices, legislators and other state officials. The cohort also had many opportunities for informal interaction with UW faculty, staff and students as well as members of the community and local bar, including a reception hosted by Fenwick & West LLP.

In Washington, DC the women toured the Capitol, the Supreme Court and enjoyed a private meeting with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They attended a tea hosted by Said T. Jawad, the Ambassador of Afghanistan and met with several officials at the Library of Congress on the topic of publicly accessible web-based research resources.

Law Through Global Eyes Lecture Series: Current Trends in Legal Education in Afghanistan

Visiting Afghan legal educators

On February 19, 2009, Prof. Jon Eddy and eight visiting Afghan legal educators discussed legal education in Afghanistan, focusing on legal education in the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Shari’a, on their relationship with other legal institutions, and on legal careers in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Legal Educators Program at the University of Washington School of Law provides opportunities for advanced training to Afghan legal educators and works to support Afghan legal education in a variety of ways, building relationships between Afghan law and Shari’a (Islamic law) faculties and their counterparts in America and throughout the world. The Program hosted eight participants in 2008-09 including faculty from Balkh, Herat, Kabul and Al-Biruni universities.

First Group of Afghan Scholars Completes Afghan Legal Educators Program

Afghan Professors Wali Mohammad Naseh, Humayoun Rahimi, Menhajuddin Hamed and Mohammad Haroon Mutasem with Professors Jon Eddy and veronica Taylor

In winter 2008, four of the initial nineteen participants became the first group of Afghan scholars and legal educators to complete the program. In their honor, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate with a dinner and ceremony recognizing their accomplishments.

Afghan Legal Educators Participate in Legal Conferences Around the U.S.

ALE scholars meet with U.S. State Department officials in Washington, D.C. to discuss the challenges of integrating Shari’a, customary and secular law

Throughout the program, Afghan Legal Educators Program participants have participated in legal conferences around the US, including at Harvard, University of South Carolina and Washington & Lee University. They also participated in several State Department forums in Washington, D.C. to discuss the challenges of integrating Shari’a, customary and secular law. Several scholars have also attended the annual American Association of Law Schools conference where they shared ideas with colleagues from around the US and the world and collected textbooks to rebuild law libraries at their home institutions.

Afghan Legal Educators Program and Native American Center Initiative

Prof. Mutasem and Kathleen Bowman, Director of the Office of Navajo Public Defender, Window Rock, Arizona

Our collaboration with the Law School’s Native American Center and the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic provides a unique opportunity for a dialogue between Native American tribal justice leaders and the Afghan legal community about analogous challenges faced by the Afghan legal system and the tribal legal systems in the U.S. Working together with Professor Ron Whitener, Director of Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic and Molly Cohan, Clinic Supervisor, we are optimistic that Native American tribal justice systems can be innovative models to accommodate tribal customs within a larger democratic system in Afghanistan.

Participants in the Afghan Legal Educators Program have been introduced first hand to several tribal models. They visited the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in La Conner, WA, where they attended Tribal Court and met with Chief Judge M. Pouley and several tribal attorneys and members of the Swinomish Senate. A visit to the Tulalip Tribes headquarters in Marysville, WA , provided participants training on the Tulalip justice system and culture and provided examples of how the Tulalip Tribes have dealt with the challenge of maintaining traditional tribal law values in a modern court system.

Since 2007, several participants have joined Tribal Clinic law students at a week long training at the Navajo Nation in Arizona where they have worked with the Office of Navajo Public Defender, Navajo Court System and the Dine' Policy Institute. In fall 2007, Chief Justice (Emeritus) of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, Robert Yazzie, visited the Law School and held a workshop with ALE participants and UW faculty to discuss strategies for discovery and implementation of fundamental law from a comparative perspective of the history and culture of both Afghanistan and the Native American tribes in the U.S. Justice Yazzie, in turn, invited Professor Eddy and two ALE participants to present at a later symposium at the Dine Policy Institute.

First Cohort of Afghan Law Professors Arrives in Seattle in Summer 2006

Completion, Summer Institute in Transnational Law and Practice, University of Washington School of Law , August 2006. Participating faculty from the Faculties of Shari’a and Politics and Law, Kabul, Herat and Balkh Universities with UW faculty and ALE Project staff.

Following a year of English instruction in Kabul provided by the Afghan Legal Educators Program, nineteen Afghan professors arrived in Seattle in the summer of 2006 to attend the University of Washington Law School’s Summer Institute in Transnational Law and Practice and to undergo intensive advanced English training and introduction to the U.S. legal system.

In fall 2006 participants engaged in individualized courses of study which included auditing law classes, learning modern legal research techniques, including use of electronic research, and continuing English training. The group also visited legal institutions such as local, state, federal and tribal courts and correctional facilities.

Center Hosts Week-long Seminar for Afghan Deans and Senior Faculty at the UW Law School

Sharia Dean Abdul Aziz (Kabul) and Fallah (Balkh)

In February 2006, the Afghan Legal Educators Program worked with USAID to sponsor a week-long seminar for Afghan Deans and senior faculty at the UW Law School. Participants were exposed to modern teaching techniques, discussed curriculum reform and law school administration, and visited legal clinics and other legal institutions.

For more than 20 years, political unrest and forced isolation under the Taliban regime deprived most Afghan educators of the opportunity to study outside their country. The Afghan Legal Educators Program offers opportunities to both senior and junior faculty members to travel to Seattle for additional training and to undertake research. “Rule of Law requires stable, robust legal institutions. Helping our Afghan counterparts establish viable legal education is an important project ,” observed Professor Veronica Taylor. “This is the first opportunity in decades for many of these deans to visit a law school in an industrialized country.”

U.S. Department of State Selects Asian Law Center for Critical Development Project in Afghanistan

Kabul Univrsity against the backdrop of the Hindu Kush

Professors Veronica Taylor, Jon Eddy and Clark Lombardi were awarded an initial $2 million INL grant to support the education and professional development of the personnel of Afghanistan’s universities who teach in the faculties of Shari’a (Islamic Law) and Law and Political Science.

The grant initially funded a three-year project to help rebuild and educate the next generation of Afghanistan’s legal profession, and allow Afghan lawyers to spend time in Seattle as visiting scholars or master’s of laws candidates to learn about the U.S. legal system. As 2007 drew to a close, INL extended the ALE program for an additional 3-year period. This allows additional professors to commence study towards an LL.M degree at the University of Washington School of Law.

The Asian Law Center is uniquely suited to help address the challenges the Afghan justice sector is facing by providing immediate education and training in areas such as comparative law, criminal justice, human rights as well as international studies and anthropology. The center’s extensive work in Southeast Asia – particularly Taylor and Lombardi’s work in Indonesia, has positioned it to work with Afghan lawyers, who have had limited or no exposure to how legal pluralism operates in transition and advanced economies.

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