Center Wins Grant to Help Establish Rule of Law in Afghanistan

Veronica Taylor, ALC Director Late this summer, the school’s Asian Law Center will begin providing practical legal education to faculty at Kabul University Law School in Afghanistan. By autumn 2006, a handful of those scholars will arrive in Seattle as they embark on an LL.M. at the School of Law.

The goal of the program is to train those who will be instrumental in legal reform and in establishing the rule of law in Afghanistan. To do so, the Asian Law Center is partnering with Kabul University’s faculties of Law and Politics and Shari‘a to provide post-graduate legal training to faculty members, and to develop a curriculum that will further train Afghan lawyers, professors and members of the legal community. Currently, the Afghan legal system is a plural system, with Islamic law, European-style civil law and some common law concepts—such as criminal justice, procedure and regulation—coexisting.

“Rule of Law requires stable, robust legal institutions. Helping our Afghan counterparts establish viable legal education will be challenging and time consuming, but it is an important project that is consistent with the public interest priorities of UW law school and with our long-standing expertise in Asian and transitional legal systems,” said Veronica Taylor, director of the Asian Law Center.

During the first year the center expects to offer seminars and short course training in areas of immediate need and interest to Kabul law school faculty. During the second year, select faculty will travel to Seattle, some as visiting scholars and some to enter a one-year LL.M. program. The center also plans to convene two conferences—potentially one in Seattle and one in Afghanistan—analyzing the progress of, and the vision for, the development of law in Afghanistan.

Clark LombardiThe project is the result of a $2 million grant the center won this year. In addition to expertise in law reform in developing countries, faculty expertise in Islamic law and development played a role in the center’s winning of the grant. Professor Clark Lombardi, country expert for the project, earned his Ph.D. in Islamic studies, has expertise in comparative constitutional law, commercial law and Islamic law, and is fluent in Arabic. Alumnus Jon Eddy (’69), who has extensive development law experience in Ethiopia and Indonesia, will be the project manager.

The faculty are enthused about the opportunities associated with the project. “Decades of war led to a catastrophic neglect of the legal and educational systems in Afghanistan, but Afghan judges, lawyers and educators today have tremendous vision and dedication. It is an honor and responsibility to work with our colleagues at Kabul University to ensure their law faculties are a major resource for Afghanistan as it re-establishes the rule of law,” said Lombardi, who for more than two years has been working pro-bono with the Afghan Government on a series of law reform projects.