Could the Taliban, with military and technological capabilities far inferior to those of Western armies, have won the war through law?
The international coalition set up an inadequate legal system plagued by corruption, whereas the Taliban established hundreds of courts in the countryside. They insisted on due process, impartial judges and the enforcement of verdicts, and their system of justice became one of the few sources of predictability in the lives of Afghans. “The Taliban court is for everyone, but the government court is only for rich people,” said one resident of Wardak province. How did the Taliban gain the trust of the population? How did they succeed in putting themselves in a position to regulate social relations? What are the consequences of these developments for Afghan society? Based on extensive fieldwork in the various provinces of Afghanistan, Baczko’s research provides new perspectives on a country that has been at war for four decades. He also offers original analyses about the place of law and courts in civil wars.
Adam Baczko is a CNRS Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies (CERI), Sciences Po, Paris. He conducts research on the formation of legal institutions by armed movements and international actors in the context of armed conflict, with a particular focus on Afghanistan, Syria, and more recently Mali. He is the author of La guerre par le droit. Les tribunaux Taliban en Afghanistan (CNRS Editions, 2021), currently under translation and titled The Talibans’ Courts: Waging War through Law in Afghanistan. He has also co-authored with Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay, Civil War in Syria: Mobilization and Competing Social Orders (Cambridge University Press, 2018).