NATO Review 2009
Edition 1: The Arctic: too hot to ignore?
Edition 2: NATO at 60
Current Edition:
Law, order and the elections in Afghanistan
In the next issue Finances & Security
All archives - Schedule
Due to translations, the other language editions of NATO Review go online approximately two weeks after the English version.
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Law, order and the elections in Afghanistan
Afghanistan cannot develop without law and order. Even without the insurgency, drugs and crime, the Afghan legal system has many problems. For example, corruption, a lack of trust in the judiciary, a strong informal system and threats from the Taliban. In this issue, Afghans and westerners alike look at how to put law and order on its feet in the country - and how this year's elections could help.
NATO Review talks to Afghanistan's first and only female Governor about how the country sees women, religion - and tourism.
Farah provincial Governor Roohul Amin outlines his thoughts on this year's elections, the effect of poppies now and what must happen to the Taliban.
Sari Kouvo claims that the negative spiral of the Afghan public’s declining trust in the state needs much more than just tinkering with law reform.
David Nauta looks at what needs reforming in Afghanistan’s judicial system - from corruption to substandard prisons. And finds that a lack of coordination could be the biggest problem.
Christian Dennys outlines his firsthand experiences of seeing Afghans create their own law and order through local councils.
With Afghanistan facing elections later this year, Professor Wadir Safi explains why he feels security issues could overshadow the whole process
Afghanistan’s forthcoming elections could either unite or divide Afghans. Dr Mayoddin Mehdi looks at the possible outcomes.


The Taliban are great salesmen. They use modern techniques, have strong messages and make offers that many cannot refuse - at least not if they want to live. One of the 'services' that the Taliban are looking to sell constantly in Afghanistan is law and order.

It may sound ironic, but the Taliban can point to a good record of providing justice - albeit blind, summary and often instant. Just look at what happened when they were overthrown at the end of 2001: one of the first consequences was the UN aid agencies claimed that there was a major breakdown in law and order which bordered on anarchy. The agencies had their offices looted, their vehicles stolen and their staff attacked.

A process started then which continues to this day: replacing and rebuilding Afghanistan's law and order system. Today, the threat is not only the Taliban's efforts to disrupt and disable the new Afghan system: it is also an internal threat of corruption, lack of training and lack of accessibility. This is an area where the international community knows more effort is needed.

In the meantime, the country's informal conflict resolution system has been working well. But how can Afghanistan switch from a cultural, traditional method of local councils, to a modern, codified judiciary? That is the question dealt with many of this edition's contributors. And they also look at the effect that this year's elections could have on the spread of law and order.

What's clear is that none of them have bought the Taliban's promises.

Paul King