find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Freelance Project Finance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Australia
· Vario are looking for freelance lawyers with experience in project finance ideally within the renewable energy sector
View details
Vario Freelance Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Australia
· We are looking for lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Freelance Construction Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· We are looking for construction lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Taliban survives through rule of law

Taliban survives through rule of law

Without a functioning local court system, the Afghan Government has little chance of overcoming the stronger rule of law possessed by the Taliban, author David J Kilcullen told an audience in…

Without a functioning local court system, the Afghan Government has little chance of overcoming the stronger rule of law possessed by the Taliban, author David J Kilcullen told an audience in Sydney recently.

Speaking last Thursday at the 2009 Wallace Wurth Memorial Lecture at the University of NSW, the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism expert said the Government of Afghanistan was losing to the Taliban because it was being out-governed, rather than outfought.

Kilcullen pointed to the 15 Taliban Sharia law courts operating at the local level as an example of how the government is being out-governed by its rival.

"Now, when you hear the term 'Sharia court' you may think of people having their hands cut off for stealing, women being stoned for adultery, beheadings and so on," said Kilcullen. "And that does happen. But, in fact, the majority of the work of these courts is commercial or civil law rather than criminal law."

Kilcullen added that such courts would issue title deeds and resolve land disputes, settle water and grazing disputes, handle inheritances, family matters and basically offer a local dispute resolution and mediation service.

He said the Taliban was acting in stark contrast to the actual Afghan Government, which has no taxes, relies largely on corruption, has no functioning local system and lacks a presence at the local level in about two thirds of the country.

"When it does have a presence, its local representatives tend to act so corruptly or oppressively that they alienate the population," said Kilcullen. "And that's even leaving aside the significant loss of legitimacy resulting from an election that a lot of people saw as fraudulent and flawed."

In this way, said Kilcullen, with reference to similar circumstances throughout history, the Taliban are the real government over much of Afghanistan. "We can beat the Taliban in any military engagement, but we're losing in Afghanistan not because we're being outfought, but because the Afghan Government is being out-governed. "

Unless drastic steps were taken to counter corruption, prevent abusive and oppressive practices by local officials of the Afghan Government and reform local level systems and local government structures, said Kilcullen, "then there's little doubt that we are eventually going to lose".

He added that the Taliban were responding to these weaknesses in the Afghan Government and had established an ombudsman system to take advantage of the situation - offering a means for people to complain if a local Taliban commander did something abusive or wrong.

"That push for fairness and accountability is a direct challenge to the state," said Kilcullen. "It's saying, 'The Government will exploit you, abuse you, the coalition forces will bomb you, there's nothing you can do about it. But we are fair, predictable and just'."

Meanwhile, Kilcullen also noted that the Taliban had a code of conduct that reads like military justice regulations - one which provides a set of rules and guidelines for behaviour and admonitions to treat the population fairly. It's a set of rules that local people are well aware of, he said, and which, combined with the ombudsman system and the Taliban court system, offers a high degree of accountability.

Kilcullen said he believes the best action the international community can take is to ensure their counterinsurgency and counterterrorism people are communicating with the development community and the rule of law community. "These academic and policy communities have been stove-piped for far too long and the more we share insights the better we'll do in the field," he said.

- Angela Priestley

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Taliban survives through rule of law
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Debate rises over Victorian judiciary attack
Jan 24 2018
Debate rises over Victorian judiciary attack
The Victorian Bar has become the latest to go on record condemning recent political attacks on the V...
Michelle Quigley QC
Jan 24 2018
Vic Barrister who helped stop major heritage redevelopment joins Supreme Court
Michelle Quigley QC, who assisted a coalition to oppose the redevelopment of St Heliers villa estate...
Building, construction
Jan 24 2018
Building finish for NSW coroner’s complex slated for early 2019
Efforts to relocate the state coroner’s facilities from Glebe to Lidcombe are on track, according ...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...